When a person wants to make a positive change in his or her life, whether it’s professionally, like making more money or a career change or personally like getting over a fear of dating, often one starts researching to find the best way to achieve their desired goal. Of course, we turn to our know-it-all friend, Google, or we ask our closest friends for their ideas, referrals and suggestions. There are so many choices to pick from and often times people come across counseling and coaching and wonder which is the best for them. There are numerous types of services that mental health professionals can offer for instance: psychiatry, marriage and family therapy, or counseling for specific types of issues. There are also many types of coaching such as: business or executive coaching, life coaching, health coaching, or even financial coaching.
I have heard another therapist and coach use the analogy of the hole and the mountain to describe the difference coaching and counseling. I think it is pretty right on, and might help you decide which is best for you. When you are in the hole it’s often dark, you can’t get out, you feel trapped and often are feeling less than your normal, average self. When you are in the hole you might attempt to use your normal strategies, supports and solutions yet they remain ineffective, you continue to struggle, and feel that life isn’t working. In this instance, therapy or counseling might be a good option. When you ready to take on climbing a mountain you often have a good base. You need coaching, support guidance and someone to help you and hold you accountable assisting you in scaling to the next level. Let’s take a comparative view at the both of them.
When people are dealing with things like depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, unhealthy relationships or painful, unresolved issues from their past, they need to seek counseling with a licensed trained therapist who specializes in the area of need. Many people seek out therapy when they are feeling below their typical level of functioning. Therapy often focuses on bringing people back to their average state of functioning often without moving advancing much beyond that. Therapists are highly trained experts in their field who nurture a person’s emotional and mental state back to health to make them stronger. Mental health professionals dedicate years of study in master’s and doctoral programs, as well as participate in ongoing training programs and receive numerous certifications. Therapists are well equipped to handle difficult emotional issues that people are dealing with. Therapists are also bound by certain laws and ethics that protect the client as well as help them navigate the best possible route to helping someone back to a better emotional state.
Coaching is a method used to take your life, career or business to the next level of success. Coaching helps in increasing peak performance, overall life satisfaction and taking things from good to GREAT! A coach helps you define and set the right goals, formulate a strategy, guide you through tough decisions, aid in breaking through obstacles, motivate you and structure your personal and professional life to help you achieve success. Maybe it’s a professional goal like starting your own business or a personal goal like getting over your fear of flying. Whatever it may be, a coach is there to hold you accountable and provide expertise that will speed up the process of achieving your goals. Coaching keeps the focus on the present and the future keeping in mind what is possible, identifies effective strategies, and creates goals with a plan helping clients design their lives. A life coach usually goes through a few weeks or months of training before they can become a certified professional.
Which one is right for you?
There are many options to choose from when it comes to bettering yourself. The stage you are at, emotionally and mentally, will determine if you need counseling or coaching. It is very important to note that life coaching is not counseling. When people are feeling bad and have not resolved past issues or traumas, it is extremely difficult for them to start working with a life coach and take action to achieve success. These unresolved issues become roadblocks that stop us from getting what we want in our lives. A life coach is not trained to handle these past emotional issues and these people need to seek counseling with a licensed, highly trained mental health professional. Coaching focuses on making changes in the present in order to achieve defined goals in the future. A person who is stronger emotionally and feels they can handle the challenges associated with turning a dream into a reality is ready to seek help and guidance through a coach.
In certain departments and stages of our lives, we need a therapist while in others we need a coach. I find, wherever your starting point is, we need to use bits and pieces from both strategies. My therapeutic style combines the best of both worlds. I also intertwine many elements of being a coach, as well. As a therapist, I provide a safe place to seek the healing of emotional wounds and begin personal growth while making an action plan and providing clarity, accountability and encouragement like a coach. I enjoy guiding and leading people by using evidence based strategies that will help shift a person’s awareness, thinking and insight. My role is to help you heal the past, resolve issues in the present and create a more successful future. If you feel you would benefit from my style and are ready to take the next step, call me so we can get you scheduled.