True confessions, one of my favorite shows on TV is “The Voice.” I love how people are judged purely on their voice and performance to gain entrance into the competition. One recent contestant was a former minor league baseball player. He spoke about how much he missed playing baseball, yet also how much he was looking forward to some coaching to take his musical career to the next level. Why? Because he knew coaching had been critical to improve himself as an athlete, now he expected the same for his musical career.
DBT coaching is similar to athletic or vocal coaching. It’s meant to be some timely support and feedback to help you navigate difficulty. So often there is resistance to reaching out for a coaching call, and yet doing so with clear intent to improve longstanding reactions/patterns actually promotes faster change. Much like with athletics/music there are areas where we are stronger, and areas where we struggle with technique. The DBT skills class, individual therapy, and diary card help to identify where there are skill deficits. Then the goal is to build up the skill(s) over time; and with increasingly more challenging scenarios. I have often done coaching calls which lasted less than 10 minutes because the skill(s) in question needed only a simple redirection and reminder. The caller had been practicing, but just wasn’t proficient enough for the current circumstance.
There is a reason they are called “coaching” calls and not “I must be failing” calls. If you are reaching out then part of you believes you can manage what’s occurring, you just need a short, clear reminder on how to get through the moment. Granted, oftentimes another part of you truly feels like your “failing,” and yet your therapist steps in as your coach to remind you of what you’ve already done or discussed in the past. They are invested in your growth in real-time.
So take the leap to reach out for coaching calls. Sometimes the act of reaching out creates change; sometimes you need to talk it through. No matter. What matters is that you step out of your comfort zone, ask for the input, and then learn from the entire experience. Slow and steady wins the DBT race!