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Coaching 101: 3) Coaching, Counselling, Therapy : how do I choose?

Two things generally happen when you ask someone about Coaching: either they do not know what is it (see previous articles) or they mix this specialty up with other specialties (see the article below).

But now that you know Coaching is helping people to find their own solutions, following a concrete methodology, using proven tools, according to a regulated technical framework and now that you know that Coaching is performed by an appropriately trained professional to help you navigate on a personal level or on a professional level, in an atmosphere of goodwill and bond by confidentiality, it is high time to clarify another point: how is Coaching different from other approaches to work on yourself and on your life? So, let's compare Coaching with two other spheres to answer this question…

First, we often think Coaching is Counselling. We often expect a Coach to give us advice and solutions, like a Counselor really, while the approach is in fact the opposite. In Coaching, we do not give answers nor solutions, but we do provide processes and tools to find these answers and solutions within yourself. This, incidentally, allows you to rely your own resources, to be more confident and to reinforce your independence.

Let's be clear though: it is undeniably useful and sometimes compulsory to seek advice, to learn a procedure, to get superior expertise and to follow external instructions. These two approaches are equally valid and needed. Keeping balance between them is key though. (Even if the current trend is to believe the outside world is smarter than us and even if you think you are completely stuck in a situation).

So, the choice between Counselling and Coaching depends on your intention and the situation: do you need guidance and information from the outside, or do you need to be assisted to go and find information inside?

What's more, if a Coach can sometimes give advice, it must only be done in certain circumstances and with care.

For that matter, we also need to proceed with care not to meddle with another discipline which also often gets mixed up with Coaching: Therapy.

(And by "Therapy", I do not only mean "psychotherapy". Therapy actually includes several approaches, disciplines and specialties, each presenting different characteristics and different angles. For example, psychanalysis and psychiatry (just to name a few) are part of therapy too. So here, Therapy means all managed mental work/treatment).

In Therapy and in Coaching, you are at the center of the sessions, you bring the things you want on the table and you get "ahah" moments to free yourself from limits to your evolution. But when Therapy generally focuses on the past and on complex and painful knots, Coaching is generally more focused on the present and the possibilities and resources, as well as on the actions for the future.

Once again, these two approaches are both equally valid and needed, and the key is still to find balance between them. (Even if the current trend is to believe all the keys are in the past and only mental work can change things).

So, the choice between Therapy and Coaching depends on your intention and the situation: do you need to untangle things deep in the past, or do you need to move on mainly from the present to the future?

(I will further explain this difference of approach in the next articles, for you to get a better image (literally). Stay tuned!)

If Coaching seems to be your thing, please visit the L'Atelier Mind website (and particularly the English version here). There you will find our specific offers. (Stories of clients who benefited from Coaching will soon be available in English but do not hesitate to take a peek in French out of sheer curiosity ;).)



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