These are just my opinions, and, I’ve thought about this a very long time. I’ve been a licensed, certified professional counselor for 20 years. It’s not new.
I want my counseling clients to achieve their goals and develop challenging, satisfying, meaningful personal lives, just as with my coaching clients…but there is a difference. It seems that the difference, at least in my mind, is in how the work is approached and what has to happen along the way to achieve those goals.
Counseling and psychotherapy are, now at least, offshoots of the medical model of mental health. In some ways that’s a good thing, and in other ways, it’s a limitation.
From what I hear about counseling in the “olden days” before my time, counseling might just have been very like coaching is now, but over time, counseling has shifted to working with people more from a medical, pathology perspective – and that’s accurate for some/many people. Not all, but there definitely are wounded folks who need and deserve quality, consistent, proven help to overcome their wounds or whatever is holding them back in their lives. Some illnesses are definitely biological, some are an after-effect of bad things that happened to them, and frankly, the brain is a meat organ in our bodies, so physical processes can and do affect brain functioning.
However. We are more than brain, we also have mind.
A brain does not walk into my consulting room, people do, and there are so very many influences on a human being – culture: global, national, local, familial, even when you were born in which century! Religion or spirituality, making meaning in life… how you fit into (or don’t) your family’s structure, if you have a family, how you came to that family… how do you express yourself? Where is your creativity? Happy healthy people make things. Are you physically well? Do you have conditions you struggle with? Are you a caregiver? Are you safe? Where are your friends? Who are your friends? Do you have nurturing relationships? What do you do to make your living? Who are you when you are not making a living? What do you love? What do you hate? What offends you? What are you willing to stand up for, or against? Is your life happening to you or are you driving your life choices? Are you hurting yourself? Are you healthy?
Coaching is not counseling and it is unencumbered by the medical model of mental health. Likewise, that can be a good and bad thing.
There can be overlap, but with respect to guidance from my state’s mental health board of practice, we have to be explicitly clear that a) Coaching and counseling are not the same process; b) My counseling clients cannot become coaching clients with me until a two year (minimum) time period has passed with no clinical contact in the interim; c) Coaching clients cannot become counseling clients of mine (although I may be able to refer you to someone else who can help you in that regard), until that same two year time period has passed with no coaching contact in the interim.
There has to be a clear and definable boundary between the two roles –it is meant to be protective to the client-type-person so that undue influence is not exerted, so there is no blurring of roles and no dual relationships occur, and so that the best interest of the client-type-person, whether counseling or coaching, is protected. I will abide by these requirements of Nebraska’s BOMHP.
So…what IS coaching? It’s helping a person FLY ~ helping them really take off in their lives!
My wonderful job is helping an individual move their own boundaries or limitations out of the way so they can maximize and craft a meaningful, satisfying, fulfilling life that is MORE than it was for them before they obtained my services.
So that list of things that influence people, that I wrote in the overly-long paragraph up above? They also influence a coaching client, but in coaching we are focusing — really drilling down — on the individual and moving forward.
In coaching, it’s dreaming, scheming, planning, moving toward goals and blasting through anything that stands in the way unnecessarily. It’s actualization – moving toward and living your full potential, as exhilarating and terrifying as that is!
I help with that. The client does the work, but I can guide and chivvy, inspire and coax and sometimes just plain old-fashioned butt-kick along the way, to help you achieve and BE more than you ever believed on your own that you could be.
It’s exciting! It’s hard! It’s wonderful, and it’s worth it. YOU are worth it!
So…I’m both. If you are interested in or need counseling, there is a separate website for that: www.slscounseling.com If you’re on this page, this blog, this is not counseling and in no way does the content of this website, my posts, or any links or products stand for counseling or medical advice.