The therapist role is best characterized by the analogy of being head coach of the student’s entire treatment. This means that the therapist is guiding and directing the opportunities, interventions, and interactions which the student is to encounter while in the program. Much like any athlete on a team who is being coached, the athlete can be provided with techniques, opportunity, direction, care, compassion, and relationship, but must choose to trust and become accessible and vulnerable to the coaching which is being offered.
The role of head coach incorporates providing these same coaching characteristics (techniques, direction, guidance, empathy, etc.) to every member of the team, especially to parents/guardians. The parents and the student’s ability to work as a team and develop the trust necessary to create authentic change is the most essential dynamic of the treatment. The therapist facilitates this growth and change through direct coaching of parents by providing specific interventions, meaning and experience of attunement, accurate expression of empathy, and effective accessing of core issues. This coaching is done through the direct modeling of the therapist and the specific guidance and direction to implement boundaries, experience authentic attunement, facilitate reciprocity, and sustain safety within the relationship.
The goal of the head coach is the emotional and behavioral health and functionality of the team through the development and experience of trust and emotional intimacy of the individual members. The therapist as the head coach is constantly focused on accurately meeting the needs of each member and developing an emotionally intimate relationship with them. This experience of emotional intimacy based on trust, vulnerability, empathy, and attunement becomes the experience for which the primary attachment figures (parents/guardians) learn to function and create safety, dependability, and reliability for healthy emotional and behavioral relationships with each other and their student.
A head coaches responsibility is being able to create experiences where the individuals within the team learn to function interdependently through their ability trust one another as well as themselves. This experience relies on the individual members of the team to trust in the guidance and leadership of the head coach (therapist). The question then is asked, “Are you developing a trusting relationship with your team’s head coach (therapist) where vulnerability, accessibility, and meaningful coaching are being experienced and embraced?” Make the choice to express your fears, struggles, and difficulties with your team’s therapist and develop the necessary skills to be successful at having a trusting relationship with your student.