Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What You Should Think About Before Seeking A Trading Coach

I'm getting a flood of emails regarding traders' desire/need for coaching in response to the recent posts on self-talk and information-processing biases.

Before a trader seeks coaching, I would encourage a thorough self-assessment. These posts may aid such an assessment:

* Trading Psychology Checklist

* Five Things to Know About Trading Psychology

A trading coach can be helpful for such problems as performance anxiety and tuning out distractions from trading. These tend to be situational problems that specifically impact trading performance.

What trading coaches in the psychological sense *can't* do is teach you how to trade. Nor can they help traders eliminate frustrations that stem from inability to trade well. Psychology cannot substitute for skill-building.

Nor can most trading coaches adequately address long-standing psychological problems that interfere with multiple spheres of life--not just trading. There are licensed therapists and medical professionals far more experienced in such matters.

Some years back, I had a trader at a large firm talk with me about problems focusing, concentrating, and executing trade ideas. A brief assessment found that this was happening in other areas of life. I recommended a full medical workup, and the results showed a hypothyroid condition. The answer to the problem did not lie in counseling or trading. That trader could have spent thousands of dollars and many hours in "coaching"--all to no avail.

Coaching has its value, but also its limits. Before you seek help for a problem, make sure you accurately assess what the problem is. The best treatments are of little value if they're not preceded by solid diagnoses.