Coaching vs. Counseling

coaching counseling Sep 08, 2021

 “What is life coaching?”

I get asked some version of this question a lot.

Sometimes it sounds like, “I don’t really know what coaching is, but I like you.”

Sometimes it’s more, “Isn’t coaching just counseling in disguise?”

Sometimes it’s, “If I have a coach does it mean that I’m broken?” or “Do I have to be broken to have a coach?”

I totally get it.

Coaching sounds a little hokey right? (Is that even how you spell that word?)

I had all the same questions, did all the research, read all the blogs for YEARS before I decided to even dip my toe in the water with coaching.

So since I get this question a lot, I thought I would take a different tone to my note today to answer it. (Check out my Instagram page to hear a more personal story about my experiences with both counseling and coaching). 

Sometimes the easiest way to answer this question is to compare it to counseling, because that is something that is more familiar to a lot of people. 

(Note: Counseling is a term that is often interchanged with psychotherapy, psychiatry, therapy, and other terms. While I recognize there are different purposes behind each of these roles and specialties, I’m using “Counseling” as a catch-all term to simplify the discussion.).

The easiest way I can think to describe it is, counseling begins in the past and works toward the present. Coaching starts in the present and works toward the future.

Counseling typically seeks to help people understand and work through past traumas and issues that are having a negative impact on their lives and behaviors today.

Coaching places more of a focus on the future, and a life coach works with the client to help them identify and achieve their goals. 

Through specialized techniques, tools, and sometimes medication, counselors help their clients find healing from past events in order to have a better future.

Through active listening, powerful questions, and other tools, a life coach helps the client understand the obstacles and behaviors that are keeping them from their desired results. 

Counselors are trained to handle mental illness, chemical imbalances, or other disordered behaviors. 

A life coach and the client work together to help the CLIENT change their thought patterns, limiting beliefs, and actions to improve their quality of life.

Both counseling and coaching help people make positive changes in their lives and work to create a positive future. It just depends on what your needs are to determine what is best for you.

A fellow coach, Natalie Clay, put it this way:

“If you can’t get out of bed to go to work in the morning, you need a counselor. If you can go to work but hate your job, you need a coach.”

For me, life coaching is valuable, because I’m already doing well. I’m thriving and have a wonderful life, but I have big goals and want to do a little bit better.

Specifically, I was trained at the Life Coach School, because their philosophy most closely aligned with how I see the world.

Their methodology helps me intentionally decide what I want to think and feel, so that I can take the actions to achieve any goals I want.

They also taught me how to show up as a good coach by creating a space without judgment for the client, listening intently, and helping people learn to solve their own problems.

A life coach helps me achieve my big dreams and be more than I thought I could do on my own.

In all honesty, coaching has changed my life.



P.S. If you’ve been curious about coaching, but have let the uncertainty of what it entails stop you, message me for a free session. Come try it out. It may be THE most important hour of your life.

Originally Published 1/12/21

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