For the Love of Clients: lessons in how coaching can transform the therapeutic relationship

Love Coach Sheila Pearl

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Content Advisory: This session is intended for therapists. There is no content in this session specific to plurality. It relates to the call by Dr. E/Emma and Buck/Crisses for changes in the therapeutic relationship, and empowerment of clients, and thus relates to the message of the conference for empowerment, inclusivity, respect, and improving treatment of plurals who seek out therapy. There are also many plural therapists who may find this session interesting for improving their own practices.

Traditionally therapy has inherited a "doctor knows best" approach where the client, a helpless patient, seeks out an expert savior who can make them better. This disempowering approach is especially harmful for people who have been repeatedly traumatized. Over the years, many therapists have increasingly adopted coaching techniques into their practices to help empower their clients, transform the therapeutic relationship, build rapport faster, and attain more client investment in lasting results. What lessons from life coaching techniques can be brought safely and easily to therapy by either the therapist or the patient — and why?


Sheila Pearl (singular life coach) graduated from Wurzweiler School of Social Work with a master’s degree in clinical social work (MSW) in 1981; she was a practicing psychotherapist several years before licensing was required. While in private practice over 35 years ago, she began to feel that there was a missing piece in the therapeutic alliance. She wasn’t the only one who was feeling the tug: about 20 years ago, she first heard about a new modality called “life coaching” and became one of the first trained and certified life coaches in the Hudson Valley in 2003. Since becoming a coach, she dropped the “therapist” label and hasn't looked back since. She now is a "love coach" specializing in loving relationships with yourself and others and has been enjoying a successful coaching practice for over 16 years.