Doing Life Together

learn-2004900_1920Coaching is popular today. People hire coaches for all kinds of reasons related to achieving personal or professional goals. When you have a desired outcome, a coach can partner with you to achieve that outcome. Here is an example:

Kelly knows she wants to lose weight, but fears her husband will sabotage her dieting attempts since this happened in the past. A friend of Kelly’s recently hired a wellness coach and suggested Kelly look into coaching as a way to move her forward on her weight loss efforts and handle her relationships concerns.

Kelly is thinking about it, but wonders how coaching is different from counseling. “I don’t want to get into a bunch of issues between my husband and I. I just want to know how to handle him when he unintentional sabotages my efforts. I need specific strategies. ”

It’s good to have the distinction between coaching and counseling in your mind since the line can be blurred at times. Coaches are limited as to what they can do even when they are certified. In coaching, if significant psychological problems are discovered, the person should be referred to a mental health professional. In counseling, professionals are mostly dealing with problems. So if you are spending too much time talking about negative emotions and things aren’t progressing, you probably need a counselor, not a coach.

Coaching is more about helping people set goals and guiding their path to reach those goals. Coaching is present and future focused, not examining the past, and is more preventative and wellness focused.

I see coaching as more educational and discovery based. People often want to self-explore and find better ways of optimizing their potential. For example, I had a highly successful client who wanted to push herself even more. She saw me to help her find balance in her life as she moved up the corporate ladder. She didn’t want stress and anxiety to overtake her, nor did she want to jeopardize her relationships. She knew she had a tendency towards workaholism and wanted to prevent this. So we set goals and she instituted several prevention measures and accountability markers regarding her time and energy.

Counselors want to get at the root of problems. In Kelly’s case, a counselor would want to explore the history of the couple’s relationship and inquire about the relationship dynamics between Kelly and her husband. Counseling also focuses on alleviating symptoms and resolving emotional issues. Counselors make diagnosis and establish treatment plans. In contrast, coaching aims to improve skills and focuses on performance. Coaches work by setting goals and improving performance.

When deciding to hire a coach or go to counseling, keep in mind that there are similarities between coaching and counseling,but also differences in credentials, degrees, and the purposes of meeting together. Basically, if you are focused on specific goals to improve your performance, choose a coach. That said, counselors can help in those areas as well. However, their approach will be slightly different based on training and the process of therapy.



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