One of the biggest misconceptions people have about professional coaching is that it is synonymous with counseling. In fact, that’s partly why I offer my first meeting at no charge; I want to be sure that there is clarity around what coaching is and isn’t, and that we both understand the expectations of our time together before a client invests any money in the process.

(Another reason is that I want to be sure our personalities are a good match. Trust is vital in coaching, and it’s important to gauge chemistry before going deep in coaching.)

It’s important to understand that coaching is not counseling. Both are personal growth services, and at times, there might be some brief overlap in an individual session. But I emphasize the word “brief.” It’s important that a coach stays in her lane and sticks to coaching.

So what’s the difference? Well, in counseling or therapy, you spend a lot of time processing your past and seeking to discover how you got where you are so that, with the assistance of a mental health professional, you can address personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties. Counseling is an invaluable service that helps people grow and change, and I am grateful for the time I have spent working with some excellent counselors and therapists over the years.

With coaching, on the other hand, you are looking almost exclusively toward the future, identifying goals and working with a professional on the tangible, practical steps necessary to achieve those goals.

Coaching is very action-oriented, while counseling is often more reflective. Again, you will likely spend some time with your coach doing reflective work, particularly if you are stuck on something and struggling to figure out why. But you won’t stay in that reflective space for long. If you have multiple sessions with the same goals, and you find that you are unable to move forward on the action steps you identified in a session or series of sessions, it might be time to re-evaluate whether coaching is what you need.

Occasionally, when I am working with a client, it becomes evident that what they would benefit from most is counseling. In those cases, I do my best to gently encourage them to pursue that route. If I know my client is also seeing a counselor, I might say something like, “That would be a great topic to address in your next counseling session!” If my client is not seeing a counselor, I might say, “We’re starting to veer into the counseling lane, which is outside my skillset or qualification. Do you have someone to connect with so you can dig deeper into that topic?”

Coaching is an invaluable relationship that leads to more clarity, empowerment, and equipping for tackling life’s tasks and goals.

Curious to learn more? Want to see if coaching might help you move toward where you want to be? Click here to schedule a consultation and first session at no charge. I’d love to see how I can support you in reaching your goals.

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Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

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