Mark Twain said “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” He understood existential social work or the critical role meaning plays in our lives. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker I am often in the role of a Life Coach. Since acquiring my Master’s degree in Social Work in 1995 I have realized that regardless of my clinical framework, most of my clients need to figure out the purpose of their life, why they are here and how they can thrive. In order for someone to benefit the most from therapy or life coaching, one needs to ensure that they are seeking support from a professional, one with at least a Master’s degree and state licensure. Whether they need support and guidance around substance abuse/addictions, or the need to manage mental illness, caveat emptor, buyer beware. Hanging a shingle outside of one’s office does not make them qualified to guide, support and facilitate deep long lasting change.
Think of it this way, if you are learning how to play golf, you might not seek out lessons from a friend who is also learning the sport. You would find a golf teacher who has an impressive handicap and perhaps played on the PGA tour. You might not trust the swing advice of just anyone, as then you might learn poor form and create bad habits. The same holds true for your mental health and/or personal and professional goals. Hire the most qualified professional, one with experience, education, licensure, and glowing testimonials.
Once you find that Life Coach or therapist, listen to how they can help you. What are their unique professional skills? How have they helped others in the past (without breaking confidentiality)? How does he/she see their role in the client’s life? Do they just listen or do they offer specific skills or tasks to challenge you to grow? Is that therapist or life coach have a framework from which they operate? Where and how were they educated?
So when you get knocked down, need to find your purpose or your meaning in life, remember in the words of Confucius, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do”. So reach out, get the support you need in order to get up and make the changes you need to thrive and live life to its fullest.
Belina N. Fruitman, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Additions Counselor lll, owner of A Woman’s Way to Recovery in Denver, former Adjunct Professor of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver.