You don’t have to be Freud to figure out that the $1 billion executive-coaching industry is an opportunity. So psychoanalysis is expanding off the couch and into the boardroom. It’s a specialty that requires no special training–anyone can be a coach–yet fees reach $1,000 an hour. At the American Psychoanalytic Association’s annual meeting last month, nervous newcomers quizzed established coaches on everything from confidentiality to marketing. “Much of it goes against our training, having to focus on group dynamics instead of the individual,” says Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist. Another presenter, Kathleen Pogue White, says a constant challenge is patients who show up only because the boss orders it. In one case, she had to figure out how to nudge a manager to improve his sales numbers after his supervisor, another client, confided that the manager would be axed otherwise.
With such built-in conflicts, executive coaching is a “total, chaotic mess,” says Kenneth Eisold, a psychologist. But Eisold says his commodity-trader clients can already see a difference. “When they talk to me, they listen to themselves,” Eisold says, “and they trade much better.”
Written by Kathleen Kingsbury