Coaching Compared to Tutoring and Therapy

Tutoring & Therapy: How Success Coaching Fills The Gap between Tutoring and Therapy

Kara, co-founder of Beautiful Minds Coaching for Teenagers, was at the end of her rope last year when her youngest son was a junior in high school. After making some decisions that did not serve him well, he’d lost his way and seemed unconcerned with moving forward towards graduation.

I tried to reach him in all the ways I knew how. I had nothing left to do or give,” she says, “And it was a very frightening time for me as his mother. I lived with constant worry.”

Kara tried family therapy but found it ineffective and expensive. A teenage boy may not feel able to talk about his feelings with a stranger and his mother in the same room – and there was no educational guidance. Her son didn’t exactly need a tutor; he was very bright and could easily handle his coursework – he just didn’t seem to care anymore. Everything was grinding to a halt, and she was very concerned he wouldn’t ever graduate high school.

“I felt so out of control. I tried every angle to connect with him and motivate him – from bribery and rewards to threats and consequences. Nothing worked. And I lost a lot of sleep!”

Then Kara met Phyllis Coletta, her son’s online learning teacher, and the world began to change.

“I remember telling Kara to just breathe,” Phyllis says, “Your son needs to connect with a caring adult, someone that is not you right now. Let us take this burden from you and we’ll take it from there.”

With this kind of coaching, Kara’s son began to take more initiative and get focused on what he had to do to march towards graduation.

“After Phyllis told me that,” Kara recalls, “I slept for the first time in months.”

Parents Suffering from Stress

So many parents are suffering high levels of real stress as their middle and high school students struggle through school closures and online learning. Thrust into the role of The Enforcer (and teacher, cook, nurse, and counselor) parents are enduring more pressure than any time in decades. On top of trying to educate their kids, many parents have lost their jobs, can’t pay the bills, and feel completely out of control. There is a family mental health crisis in America right now.

When schools closed initially in March 2020 parents reported immense frustration at having to constantly remind their teenagers to log on to school and get work done. Teenagers retreated to the recesses of dark bedrooms and started to fall behind academically. The estimates are that most students are months behind where they should be because of the pandemic. All that yelling and frustration takes a toll on family dynamics as relationships fray and fracture while parents watch their children disengage from education.

Inspired to Serve

Kara and Phyllis were inspired to start Beautiful Minds in early 2020 when they realized online learning was here to stay; this meant even more teens to serve and so many parents to support.

I just couldn’t stand that kids were suffering and falling off the radar,” Phyllis says, “And I knew Kara and I had the skills to help.”

Success Coaching bridges the significant gap between tutoring and therapy, to provide connection, support, and motivation one-on-one with teenagers ages 13-18. Tutors are subject matter experts, and their areas are very discreet. A child may struggle in math but not Language Arts, for instance. Tutors range anywhere from $25 – $80/hour and only work on one subject. Success Coaches, on the other hand, approach the student in a holistic way, building a relationship and then teaching the  concrete skills the teen needs to succeed: time management, intrinsic motivation, problem-solving, and effective communication with teachers, to name just a few. Coaches, focused on the whole playing field – from academic progress to life and career skills – help struggling students to engage in their education and life. 

Our Success Coaches create a container of space for the student to flourish: they connect and engage by identifying the child’s interests or passion and then they work on schedules, routines, and strategies for getting academic work accomplished.

A therapist addresses family and personal dynamics in the context of emotional and psychological well-being. While counseling may refer to school as a discreet part of a young person’s life, they are not trained or equipped to work in the academic realm. When parents begin to see progress in their teenager’s schooling, they are flooded with relief.

Since my daughter’s started (with Beautiful Minds), she is more confident,” says Harlow Morgan, “And I find we can talk about her homework without the usual stress and defensiveness I’ve seen in the past.” 

Easing this stress can positively impact family relationships and dynamics. Once a parent and child can clearly see the path through high school and beyond, parents can breathe a sigh of relief.

My son was very fortunate to find this level of service and compassion from adults who cared about his well-being, accepted him exactly where he was at, and believed in his ability to find a new healthier path in life,” Kara says, “Our relationship is strong and he is on the right path.”

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