I get asked occasionally what the difference is between a coach and a counsellor, or therapist. It’s a confusion I can understand - we’re both working in a similar field, and we both use a similar type of language.
So, I thought I’d put together an explanation of the differences, and how each of the two disciplines can support you in your personal and professional development.
Let’s start with therapists. Therapy is all about processing what’s going on with us emotionally. They’re exploring all those hidden places in our minds where our negative experiences live, in an attempt to help us understand how those experiences are affecting our perceptions and our behaviours in the present.
Therapists are much more focused on our mental health than on personal growth, although I will not deny that these two are intrinsically intertwined. They’re interested in exploring our conscious and unconscious mind, helping us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves in relation to our experiences so that we can live a balanced, healthy life.
They’ll support us if we’re struggling to deal with our emotions, if we’re feeling burdened by the weight of negative past experiences, or if we’re battling with anxiety over the future. It will be a longer commitment of time, because we’ll be working through some challenging feelings. We’ll need space to reflect on what we’ve discussed in session, to process and understand what’s come up.
Coaches, on the other hand, are about personal growth. Although we use very similar techniques to therapists, and there is a lot of crossover between the disciplines, our goal as a Coach is to take you from your current Point A and get you to your desired Point B.
We do this by empowering you. Giving you the tools and techniques to be able to coach yourself going forwards. I don’t want a client to be on my books forever, which from a business standpoint seems crazy, but it’s not what coaching is about. I want a client to get to a point where they become self-reliant and self-empowered, shake my hand (social distancing restrictions permitting), and say “thanks very much, I’ve got this”.
What’s stopping you from getting from A to B are obstacles in your thinking. That’s what we’re working with in a Coaching relationship. It’s more about creating actionable strategies and defining achievable goals, than it is about analysing where our behavioural traits come from and exploring past experiences (although there will, inevitably, be some reflection on this).
Coaching relationships will be shorter than therapeutic ones, as well. We’re lead more by a framework, which will generally look something like:
- Discover what your desired Point B looks like.
- Explore and understand the obstacles that are stopping you from getting there.
- Create strategies and define objectives so that we can reach Point B.
- Empower you with the tools to keep you moving forwards in your journey of personal development.
I say “so that we can reach Point B”, because it’s both of us going on this journey together. As Coaches, we form a collaborative relationship. We’re not sitting back and telling you what you need to do. That’s what a Guru does. We’re down in the mud with you, working through it together.
If you'd like to find out more about whether or not Coaching could be beneficial to you, or if you feel like dipping your toes in the water to see what it's like, I'm open for a free discovery session. Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a message on WhatsApp, and let's start a conversation.