Counseling vs Coaching

Which is more appropriate for me: Counseling or Coaching?

Counseling or coaching

We all go through challenging situations in our lives.  Some are easier to navigate through than others.  There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for a little added support from a professional counselor when you need it.  Knowing when to ask for help is a trait I admire; it shows you have self awareness and are actively looking to make changes in your life.  That’s a very positive step in the right direction.  Plus, getting another perspective from a professional can provide you with the knowledge and tools for long lasting improvement and the strength and confidence to tackle future challenges that come your way.

While there are several foundational similarities between coaching and popular counseling in today’s world, there are enough differences such that they are not interchangeable.  Where counseling may look into your past, present and future and dive more deeply into who you are and why, coaching focuses more toward where you want to be in the future and provides you with support through transitions to get there.  Counseling is more about uncovering and recovering, while coaching is more about discovering.  Today, the biggest distinction between the two is often described as a difference in thinking about the significance of one’s past as it relates to the present and the future.

If you’re still not sure which may be the best model for you, we can work that through together in our first session to determine which fits your goals and situation the best.

What Should I Expect from Counseling?

Since we’re all unique but similar, every therapy session (incidentally, I use the terms “therapy” and “counseling” interchangeably) is different and will be tailored to you and your specific needs and goals.  Typically during our sessions, I will ask about how things have been since our previous session and discuss your current issues and concerns.  We may meet weekly, or more or less frequently depending upon what and how much you’d like to accomplish with each session lasting about 50-minutes unless we agree that shorter or longer sessions would be more beneficial.

Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal issues or growth.  I may at times suggest you do things to your benefit outside of our sessions such as reading an appropriate book or keeping track of specific thoughts, behaviors, or outcomes.  A key to our success is your active participation both in our sessions as well as in between.  You will glean the most benefit when you actively work toward self growth and change, develop a deeper self awareness, and assume responsibility for your actions.  I will be with you to guide you along the way with respect, understanding, and compassion.

What Should I Expect from Coaching?

Many people are reluctant to see professional counselors for any reason as there is still a widespread perception that only those with serious problems seek out counseling or “therapy.”  It is for this reason that in addition to relationship counseling for individuals and couples, I also offer relationship coaching, as well as life, executive, and career coaching, either in person or via phone or a Skype-like video call application.

Professional counselors are often associated with a “mental health” label and cumbersome insurance reimbursement processes that require a diagnosis.  The danger here is that a diagnosis will follow you everywhere and could potentially hurt you in the long run.  Coaching is a supportive relationship between you and a professionally trained coach and focuses more on future possibilities than any mistakes of the past.

I partner with you to help you to reach your personal and professional goals.  We will work together in a trusted partnership, helping you identify your greatest strengths as well as your deepest challenges and work on the skills necessary to ensure your success.

A significant number of the clients in my practice are simply seeking coaching and more direction, and they shy away from having to fill out all the ugly paperwork that implies that they have mental health issues.  Many clients want to talk about their careers, relationships at home or at work, general life issues and what is holding them back or causing problems.

The International Coach Federation (ICF), which claims to be the largest coaching credentialing and support organization in the world, defines coaching as:

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that the client already has.”

A coach is like a mentor who joins us on our life’s journey.  With my coaching hat on, I will assist you in defining your goals, your direction, and your passions and together we will develop the action plans to get you to where you want to be in your relationships, your life, and in your career.

If you’re looking for someone to partner with you on to provide extra support and guidance through a challenging situation or you’re just ready to move into a new chapter in your life, I can help you or happily refer you to someone who can, be it on a counseling or coaching basis.  Call or email today to find out which area of focus is right for you.