Everyone online seems to have an opinion about coaching. But is there really a conflict between counseling & coaching?
Personally, I don’t think so. As a licensed mental health counselor who naturally coaches, I’ve been studying both fields for over 7 years. I am very transparent about the fact that I am a counselor who also coaches. Having read conflicting advice over the years, I’ve decided to clarify my position.
Licensed mental health counselors are uniquely equipped to practice both therapy & coaching.
I believe all licensed mental health counselors are over-qualified, natural coaches. Foremost, we stay true to our profession by following our state legal and ethical guidelines; however, after that, it’s the relationship – not the counseling or coaching – that ultimately matters. What counselors do particularly well, is establish an ethical relationship. We lay the ethical groundwork upfront (confidentiality & privacy) so that the client can then feel safe to explore what works for them.
Licensed mental health counselors have the tools and skills to decide when to use counseling & when to use coaching. The difference between counseling & coaching ultimately depends on the process of uncovering what the client needs & wants. For counselors, we have undergone thousands of hours of supervision to demonstrate our dedication to providing the highest quality of service.
One argument I’ve heard is that coaches produce “outcomes”. Again, however, as a counselor who coaches regularly, my clients and I work on outcomes every single session. I can explain this process simply. A client comes to counseling. I complete their intake & assessment. Then we collaborate together to formulate an action plan within the first three sessions. This treatment plan consists of “goals” and “objectives” with a typical timeline of 3 to 6 months. My client’s goals are clear and the results are measurable.
Not only do I help clients accomplish their tangible goals; but I also get measurable results. How?
One example is by using assessment tools. When appropriate, I conduct evidence-based measurable assessments with my clients to help us demonstrate improved scores with screening tools such as the BDI, PCL-5, GAD, Wellness Assessment, and dozens of other inventories that I’ve been trained to use. If you have ever worked with trauma, depression, and anxiety – you know that assessments are crucial to truly understanding how deeply debilitating symptoms of unnamed disorders can be.
For example, a client comes in with severe social anxiety. She says, “I’m terrified of talking to people because I feel so uncomfortable.” After a couple sessions, I start noticing that her symptoms sound like trauma. The client and I complete the PCL-5; and we both discover that, yes, her symptoms indicate moderate levels of PTSD. What a relief to my client! Now she can name the reason for her discomfort & we can formulate realistic goals. Once my client & I can measure the severity of symptoms, we can start to work to a place of clarity and understanding. That is the counseling part.
However, the other crucial side to this is coaching.
For most people, coaching is more appropriate, ethical, and effective.
Most people do not have any “mental health issues”. They have normal lifespan, relationship, identity, cultural, and career issues. Coaching (also, known as MI, ACT, brief-CBT) helps me teach the best evidence-based psychology tools to take my clients insight and awareness to the next level. Counselors are uniquely trained in: career, professional, dating, life-span, marriage and family, and business coaching. The outcome here is to boost clarity, confidence, and productivity. That is my role as a counselor who also coaches. That’s the authentic, honest, and genuine part of being a trained therapist who also wishes that all my clients experience success in taking their lives to the next level of thriving. Licensed clinicians have the tools and the foundations to provide excellent coaching and therapy.
So what should you choose? It is simply a matter of personal preference. Both coaching and counseling produce sustainable change, healing, and transformation. Regardless, of whether you choose coaching or counseling, both will give you measurable life-changing relief & results quickly.
Choosing a professional licensed counselor who coaches is one great way to have the best of both worlds!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email and share your tips, words of wisdom, and stories with us.
Remember, you’ve got this & keep up the good work!
The Wellbe To Go Team
© 2018 Wellbe To Go