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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Why Is This Oven So Dirty?


Yesterday, I spoke with my dear friend “Jammies” about her aspiration to begin the process of becoming a professional life coach. We discussed foreseeable challenges she may face, as evidenced by my over 30 years of experience with coaching.


Aside from the prospect of encountering help-rejecting complainers who seek guidance though undermine almost every solution to their problems which is offered, I cautioned my friend about what I call a “shifter.” This is the individual who shifts between different interventions while not fully committing to a single strategy that may actually help.


For the sake of clarity, when I speak of “interventions,” I’m referencing actions taken to improve a situation. As an example, the shifter may consider psychotherapy, psychedelics, psychopharmacological treatment, and other intervention strategies.


Regarding this sort of person, I invited Jammies to consider the metaphor of cleaning day within a home. Floors need to be swept and mopped, mirrors require de-steaking, counters can be wiped, an oven may need special attention, etc.


All of these items comprise the whole of a purification process concerning one’s home. This is akin to a person presenting to life coaching intervention with complaints of multiple problems.


Perhaps the individual would like to work on interpersonal relationships, depressive symptoms, body image, anxiousness, over-reactivity when driving, and a host of other issues. Assessing the person’s interests and goals upfront is useful in order to prioritize how to coach this individual.


Still, the shifter tends to present with most problems ranked at an equal degree to one another. This is like saying that the oven is dirty, the countertops are filthy, the floor is cluttered, the refrigerator is messy, and all of these matters require immediate attention and all at once.


When encountering this sort of individual, I encourage pragmatic prioritization of problems worthy of addressing in the limited time we have per session. Just as cleaning day has a finite amount of time to which one may devote effort, so do coaching sessions.


However, the shifter tends to switch from topic to topic while avoiding focus on one particular matter. Moreover, shifters will often present to their initial appointment with complaints of having undergone multiple other intervention strategies which were apparently ineffective.


Some of these individuals have flown to other countries for expensive and extreme shamanic interventions with psychedelic substances. Others have run the gamut of psychotherapeutic intervention to where they can accurately recite the tenets of various modalities.


When asked about what the shifter has found unhelpful about religious or spiritual practice, addictions treatment, an ayahuasca retreat, different counseling approaches, or medication, the individual can’t always pinpoint the issue. “I don’t know” isn’t a productive place to start when beginning a helping relationship.


As mentioned, not only are shifters unable to identify why interventions haven’t worked, they tend to struggle with focusing on distinct problems worthy of address. Everything’s the problem all at once.


When encountering this type of clientele in a life coaching dynamic, I find it useful to have the coachee pick one item within the home that is most meaningful for immediate intervention. This doesn’t have to be the most difficult problem.


For the sake of discussion, let’s say a dirty oven represents interpersonal relationships. With multiple different intervention strategies having been tried, the coachee may reasonably ask, “Why is this oven so dirty?”


Usually, when exploring hurdles to success, individuals may discover that unwillingness to fully commit to the intervention underlies the reason their oven isn’t clean. Therefore, the shifter has been willfully stuck—rigidly hampered by one’s own refusal to actually get better.


How Jammies will address a shifter is up to her. Personally, I incorporate Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) techniques into my approach with a fundamental focus on personal ownership for one’s own reactions to the self, others, and life in general.


Cleaning an oven may prove to be a challenging affair, depending on what has soiled it. Still, I argue that while perhaps uncomfortable, it’s more reasonable to push through discomfort on a task-by-task basis rather than abandoning the intervention altogether or trying to clean all items within the home at once.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW





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Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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