What's the Difference Between Therapy and Personal Growth?
-Frank DeDominicis/January 26, 2014
Coaching isn't a substitute for counselling but both may augment each other. Counselling provides coping skills. Coaching equips self-actualization skills. For the 'right-fit' individual, a combination of both approaches works well.
From the traditional medical and psychoanalytic community first came the "deficiency model" of mental health. This concept was illustrated with the discovery of the source of scurvy to be a vitamin C deficiency. Many practitioners still use the medical model of human health. Therapy provides awareness and definition of core coping and functioning problems; i.e., "deficiencies,' with responsibility for change resting on the practitioner, not the patient.
The medical model acknowledges that for those repairing their minds from losses, therapy, "talking" counselling may help the 'deficient' patient acquire coping skills. However, the educational model is often preferred by those whose lifestyles are positively proactive and who tend to invest in lifelong learning and experiencing new things. A recent mental health study reveals that a blend of medical (counselling) and educational (coaching) approaches is preferred by and works well for some individuals, but not for everybody.
In the 70's the medical community spawned biofeedback, proof of self-regulation. The physiological evidence served as a no-brainer metaphor for simultaneous and interdependent processes: the rewiring of neuronal pathways affected by self-regulation. Significant frontal lobe rewired personality changes are observed in the adolescent brain as it deletes old, minimally used applications and reinforces new behaviours and their associated attitudes, especially during what Michael Bradley refers to in his book Yes! Your Teen is Crazy as "the four years of hell."
Epigenetics, the newest neuro-science which explores the brain's wiring adaptability and behaviour patterns, suggests that behaviour and synaptic rewiring are practically simultaneous cause-and-effect to each other. Behavioural psychology studies show that significant, positive peak experiences can change us at depth, at a gut level that transforms core values. Hence, I urge others to create guilt-free "eustressors" positive life events, to offset the impact of negative stressors. Studies show that, biochemically-speaking, five positive emotional events are required to offset one negative emotional event, to balance one's amygdala chemistry. The amygdala is like your computer processor which instructs your frontal lobe hard drive and triggers the Hypothalumus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis.
The martial arts teaches us that breathwork calms oneself, conserves and focuses energy. The superior warrior is not upset but instead calmly executing an intentional strategy which relies upon forcing the opponent to respond to well-executed tactics such as provoking and using the opponent's energy, ultimately forcing compliance.
It's no small wonder that personal change processes involve deep relaxation processes such as biofeedback, guided meditation, breathwork, yoga, mindfulness and other holistic modalities. Through self-regulation, a concept espoused by military theorist and general Sun Tzu in 440 BC, one can change oneself; i.e., can choose the best attitudes and behaviors to respond to specific challenges for optimal results. Sun Tzu cautioned soldiers to imprint their memories with the fact that "the difference between the defeated warrior and the victorious warrior is that the defeated warrior goes to battle and tries to win. The victorious warrior wins first, then goes to battle."
United States Army Captain Timothy A. Boone at Fort Ord, California, a leadership development laboratory facilitator and organization consultant, has taught personal growth skills which equipped United States Navy Seal Team 6 to maintain mental calmness and focus while executing precarious, "surgical" missions in Kenya and Iraq. Personal growth processes, real transformation, is about real growth, not at relieving or resolving past issues and pain.
Recall that human nature's six common fears and the habit of mentally and verbally complaining are self-reinforcing, locking oneself into a vicious dance of negative self-talk and low expectations. Do you know anybody who lives down to the expectations of others or down to their own bad expectations? Is that person you?
The educational model of health is ancient and based on the premise that the locus of personal responsibility lies ultimately and totally with the individual for their own life, a position favored by Will Schutz and Fritz Perls. The humanistic personal growth leader does not "do something" to the client but merely makes available generally accepted best practices and processes which guide individuals through experiential, affective learning experiences, encouraging interdisciplinary exploration and noncritical exploration of with one's values, attitudes and personal codes.
Many psychotherapists employ the "personal strengths" focused wellness model of health as well as personal growth facilitators. What is the difference between psychotherapy and personal growth? The answer lies within the definition of the locus of control and responsibility for change. Catherine Ponder, in the closing chapter of her book The Dynamic Laws of Healing, suggests that the healing activator is accepting one's sense of personal responsibility in the right spirit.
*(FD&A services offered are not for everyone. If you seek treatment, call a therapist. If real professional development transformation you desire, and you're courageous, contact me.