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Coaching vs Therapy



International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaching

Bobbi L. Parish, MA CTRC-S


      Trauma Recovery Coaching is differentiated from other types of coaching and therapy in many ways:

  • We recognize the unique, complex and specific needs of trauma survivors.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaching is specifically designed to address trauma. The methods, resources and techniques our coaches use are tailored to help our clients recover from the aftereffects of trauma. It is the sole focus of our work. We teach our coaches about trauma first, then we teach them our coaching model.

  • Other mental health professions and coaching training programs teach counseling, coaching or therapy skills first and then have their students shape those methods to fit around trauma.

  • As Trauma Recovery Coaches we do not pathologize the trauma responses our clients have. We don’t label what they are experiencing as wrong or bad. Instead, we recognize that they are having normal reactions to trauma – which are abnormal experiences.

  • We oppose our clients being labeled as disordered or ill because they have experienced trauma and have responded in ways that they believed were in service to their survival.

  • There is no power differential in Trauma Recovery Coaching. We work with our clients as peers and equals. Our relationships are mutual, collaborative and intradevelopmental.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaching is always client led. Just as we have innate responses to trauma that facilitate our survival, we also have innate capabilities to recover from trauma injury – to respond in ways that help us to reconnect with ourselves, our bodies, our emotions and others.

  • We believe our clients have within them – just as they have the programming to respond and protect themselves from trauma – the tools to heal from trauma, to allow the trauma response to complete and move out of their bodies.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not ascribe to particular schools of theory or theoretical orientations. We recognize that every client is different and every recovery journey is unique. Our clients and their experiences are the framework for their recovery.

  • As Trauma Recovery Coaching is client led and we do not establish a power differential in our work, we don’t set treatment plans or prescribe a course of activity for our clients based upon our interpretation of what we feel they need.

  • We don’t set goals for when we feel they will be “recovered”. To give our clients answers and to set their path for recovery disempowers them and impedes their recovery, potentially causing further harm. Instead, we set Recovery Goals with our clients. We believe that inside themselves they know what they need to do to have the life they want to live. They may need resources to uncover it, but the answers exist in them, not ourselves as external forces.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches are well versed in understanding the limitations of their profession. We do not operate outside of our scope of competence to treat or diagnose mental illness. Nor do we give advice or information about psychotropic medication. We also do not work with minors, families or couples.

  • We have detailed protocols for dealing with the safety issues that arise with trauma survivors who are often dealing with deep emotional pain and shame. We are the only mental health and coaching profession to have standardized, detailed safety protocols to ensure every client receives the care they need to cope with behaviors that threaten their health and well-being.

@2022 Bobbi L. Parish, MA, CTRC-S – The International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaches

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