Are Coaching and Counselling really very different from each other?
Or, are coaching and counselling just the same process by a different name? In fact, whilst they have many, many similarities, they're actually quite different in some significant respects.
Coaching is (usually) a psychologically-informed process aimed at guiding you, motivating you, and supporting you in your achievement of ambitions, goals, further self-development and self fulfilment in whatever areas of life you wish, or need, to improve. This can be in any aspect of your personal life, or your sexual, relationship, work / career, educational, health, or emotional wellbeing areas of life. My own coaching focuses, of course, on helping you to take more control, achieve your personal goals, and advance your mind and body wellbeing and self-care in areas of stress, anxiety, sexuality and relationships in any aspect of your life. This includes climate change or viral pandemic related stress and anxiety. Coaching of any kind always starts from where you currently are and focuses solely on the present and the future. The best coaches will have a strong professional experience background - and, often, university degrees and certificates - relevant to the area(s) that they coach in. In my own case my professional background is in international education, counselling / therapy and coaching, with relevant university degrees in Education, Geography, Counselling and Psychotherapy.
By contrast, Counselling is a form of talking therapy that allows you to discuss your emotional and behavioural problems, worries and any difficult feelings which you are experiencing, working with a non-judgmental professional who is psychologically trained in psychotherapeutic procedures. The aimed outcome of this is for counselling to help you develop a better understanding of your feelings, thought processes and behaviours, and bring about helpful changes in these areas. As a result of these changes in thought patterns, feelings and behaviours, you may move on in your life by creating practical and workable solutions to your problems in all aspects of your personal life, work / career, sexuality and relationships. Counselling often focuses on in-depth exploration into your personal life-history, in order to help you understand where your problems arose.
Whilst a coach may only offer coaching, a qualified counsellor may offer both coaching and counselling. This may be either as separate activities, or used as an integration, skilfully combined into a very complementary single approach. This doesn't mean that coaches are "second best" however, far from it. There are, to be sure, some coaches with no worthwhile qualifications or background at all, just as there are also poor counsellors. The very best coaches, however, will have impressive and relevant life and professional career experience, and this may also include professional university degrees, certified training and outstanding background experience in one or more professional or business fields. In fact, some of the best coaches have far more impressive qualifications and relevant professional experience than do many counsellors / therapists.
In general, you would come to coaching because you’re not satisfied with, or worried about, one or more aspects of your life. You would wish to make effective changes and achieve your goals, possibly even reinventing aspects of your life, supported, guided and encouraged by a professional coach who is trained and / or sufficiently life-experienced in that area to motivate, support and help you make improvements. Support, great positivity and motivation are crucial aspects of coaching. For example, as a coach focused on working with your stress, anxiety, relationships or sexual wellbeing, I work closely with you to identify your positive areas, your strengths (which you will certainly have, I promise you), and your wishes for where you’d like your coaching to take you to. By contrast, much counselling tends to be very in-depth, and (sadly) often focused on “fixing” people, “putting them right” and dealing with the perceived negatives in someone’s personality.
Sometimes, of course, where serious emotional, psychological and behavioural issues are deep-rooted they require a deeper exploration – and, in this case a counselling or psychotherapy approach, or even deeper clinical approaches, are essential. Where increased self-care, improved mind and body wellbeing, or goal achievement and self-development are the aim, then coaching is most appropriate.