So often I hear people confuse the terms coaching and counseling/therapy. But let me first emphasize that I'm proud of anybody who looks for support in their personal growth. That's the most effective way to accelerate your personal development. However, choosing the right support channel is not as easy as it seems. When do I need coaching? And when do I need counseling? It is of paramount importance to choose the right type of support so you can maximize the positive impact.
But why is it so difficult to tell the difference between coaching and counseling/therapy? We believe this is mainly caused by marketing, clients' misinterpretations, and the similarities of the two disciplines. Marketing messages that aim to convince clients of how a company can help can unintentionally inflate the capabilities of that company.
Further, the jargon of the coaching and counseling industries is prone to misinterpretation. For example, both talk about improving mental wellbeing, but within a different context. Lastly, there is a lot of overlap between the two disciplines. Both can make use of therapeutic tools like Cognitive Behavior Theory (CBT), Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), psychological techniques, hypnosis, etc. That's also why it is insanely difficult for clients to understand the difference.
In this post, I'll share when counseling/therapy can help in your personal growth, when coaching can help and what the rough difference is between the two.
Coaching is more present- and future-focussed. A coach's main focus is to help you grow towards the life you want to live. They use techniques and tools like "the wheel of life", personal values and mission statements that enable you to develop towards your desired life. Your coach will also help you to gain clarity, harness your strengths, and grow your capabilities. They will act as a confidante, facilitator, and thought partner in maximizing your potential. Coaching presents the opportunity to learn and grow.
In this simplified explanation of the difference between the disciplines, the focus is on the future or the past. Often counselors/therapists are very capable of helping you reconcile with your past. Counselors/therapists are educated in using the right techniques to let you process past events adequately. Whereas coaches are trained to help you reach the next level in your life. Encapsulating this all into two sentences: Coaching helps clients to live their best lives by setting goals, determining the process towards their goals, and coping with anxieties emerging on the way towards life goals. Counselors/Therapists enable you to live in a balanced way and will help you with issues like trauma, sexuality, family dynamics, and mental health conditions.
That said, there is a lot of overlap between the two disciplines. A coach wants to enable clients to live a balanced life as well, but will most likely use more of a future focus. A counselor/therapist wants to help clients to grow and reach their goals as well, but will most likely use more a reflective focus towards growth.
At Amplio Coaching, we occasionally experience a coaching trajectory that develops such that a counselor/therapist would be better suited for certain areas. In these cases, we support our clients in finding the right support in these particular areas. We believe that a coach and a counselor/therapist should work in parallel to ensure optimal personal growth.
There are areas where a counselor/therapist and a coach can both help. But the majority of questions are more suitable for one of the two.
For the sake of readability, this explanation is highly simplified. We did not go into deep detail. Nonetheless, we do recommend this article that explains the differences between coaching and counseling/therapy accurately.