Whenever I tell people I am a coach, it is normally followed by the question, 'What is that?' In my experience, compared to coaching, counselling is much more widely understood. You have a problem and you talk to a counsellor. So where does a coach come in?
A coach can come in anywhere, for any issue, the same as counselling. The main difference between the two is that counselling tends to be more focussed on talking through your feelings to help you to make sense of them. Counselling is particularly beneficial for helping people to work through the grieving process and heal from past traumas. Coaching can also help clients to process these issues but the sessions are more focussed on the future and helping to you to take steps to move forwards. In coaching sessions, you still spend time exploring how you're feeling and identifying what is not working in your life but then you look more at the...'Ok, I feel like this. What next? What action can I take?' Often the changes you can make through coaching can be more rapid than in counselling for that reason.
Many people are familiar with business coaching and perhaps think that it is only for business owners, the HR department or people wanting to move further in their career. That is certainly one area of coaching that is available and one aspect of coaching that I do. However, I am a predominantly a Wellbeing and Mindset Coach. This means I am passionate about working with people wanting to improve their overall physical and mental health. I believe everything in your life is interconnected and every aspect of your life has a knock on effect on something else. If you're living on takeaways and drinking every night then you're probably not sleeping great and will probably not have the energy in the morning to help you to skip out of bed and into some exercise. If you're not exercising, you're probably not operating at an optimal level of health and wellbeing. All of these things overtime will undoubtedly affect your mental health, beliefs about yourself and ability to step out of your comfort zone and grow. Work, relationships and heath will suffer. So not only do I help you to achieve your specific goals, I will help you to evaluate all areas of your wellbeing to remove as many barriers to your progress as possible. Another big part of what I do is to help you to develop a healthy, confident mindset. I can help you to challenge and change the negative beliefs you have about yourself and empower you to try new things. I will help you to create a positive, growth mindset instead of one that is damaging and limiting.
I see counselling as sometimes being the first part of the journey of change. It can be helpful to process what has created or led to the problem. Counselling helps to raise your awareness to your thoughts, emotions and behaviours and that of others. Once you have more of an awareness, you have more choice as to what you do next. I have had counselling on and off for a number of years and I got to the point where I knew exactly where my issues came from but I still felt stuck and fell back into old patterns of behaviour. This is where coaching can be really beneficial. I had exhausted all of my conscious resources through counselling and for me, it was time to dig deeper to access the unconscious root of the problem and make changes there. My coaching is centred around NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which helps to rewire your brain so that you can stop repeating unconscious negative patterns of behaviour and replace them with healthier ones. Once you have processed and dealt with the past, coaching helps you to make changes in the here and now to help create a better future. Coaching helps to take you to that next level.
There is a big and quite obvious difference between counselling and coaching sessions and that is the price. It took me a while to get my head around the difference as they are equally as beneficial. The increased price of the coaching is not a reflection of the amount of time you have spent with the coach, it is a reflection of the outcome you can achieve.
My coaching sessions are around 2 hours long as I find it is not until a good hour and a half has past before we start uncovering the meaty stuff that's been getting in the way of your happiness. If you've ever experienced counselling yourself, you may have noticed that you've been talking for nearly an hour and then in the last few minutes when the session is drawing to a close the real work starts, as the true nature of the problem is uncovered and revelations are made. As a therapist this can feel somewhat frustrating at times as I fear that that piece of work will have been lost in the week or two until the next session. A lot can happen in a week and the focus of the sessions can go off in a completely different directions. Coaching allows you to delve deeper but then keeps you focussed on the goals you wanted to achieve.
Counselling and coaching are incredibly similar and can be used to support people with the same issues but another big difference is in the style that the support is delivered. Counselling is often more of a gentle approach, allowing you more space to talk and explore your thoughts and emotions. I may challenge what you've said at times to help you uncover other possilbilities and perspectives but this is done in a gentle way, allowing you to have control over the direction of the session. Coaching can feel more collaborative with ideas being bounced between us. The sessions can be more intense, directive and structured as I help you to focus on moving forwards to achieve your goals. I may set you a number of tasks or homework to help you to make progress and keep the forward momentum going.
Another difference is that counselling is strictly boundaried with communication being limited to the hour long sessions. The coaching process allows me to support you in between the sessions, if needed. You are able to contact me to share any troubles or triumphs in between the sessions; I will be there by phone or email to give you a boost if you feel you are struggling to stay motivated; I can answer any questions you have; set you further tasks to push you to the next level and generally be your personal cheerleader! And who doesn't need that?!
So, to sum up...in my opinion counselling and coaching are incredibly similar and both lead to life changing results. If you would like a more exploratory experience to heal emotions related to the past then counselling is probably more suited to you. If you are hungry to make changes and are ready to put the work in to move forwards in your life then coaching is probably more suitable.
I hope this helps. If you wish to find out more about the support I offer and to work out what is best for you then please don't hesitate to contact me.
Stay safe and well.