How Is Coaching Different from Counseling?

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So, what exactly is coaching? For the past 30 years growth coaching has continued to gain prominence as a viable means by which individuals and groups can develop a vision of where they desire to be in life and take steps towards making their vision reality. Modern growth coaching has developed from three main approaches:

  • executive and business consulting that strives to improve the culture and functionality of large organizations,
  • counseling and psychotherapeutic methods healing individuals and families from emotional pain and trauma,
  • practitioners in the more recent personal growth movement that desire a more personalized means to move forward in their life, known as growth coaching.

    Growth and development coaching has become a primary means by which people move forward in their dreams, aspirations, and objectives that they have determined as important to them. The coaching relationship between practitioner and client is like a partnership that purposes to help the client take gradual steps toward the realization of this desired state. Coaching works to help people take action and provides an atmosphere of accountability to ensure that they are moving forward in specific areas of their life.

    The process of coaching is all about forward movement. Initially, practitioners work with clients to develop a vision and clarify core beliefs and values that align with their vision. For instance, if a client desires to have a healthier emotional state, a coach will work initially to help them understand how they would like to optimally think, act, and behave, and how that aligns with their values. The next step would be to identity resources that will help them achieve that optimal growth, whether that be people, books, or experiential means. The practitioner will then help the client break down the vision into small, attainable goals that are meaningful yet not so difficult that growth is hard to grasp. Finally, the coach will work to hold the client’s vision as the goal and works to move with them along every step, small and large, towards attaining that desired place.

    Much like the therapeutic relationship, coaching relationships are generally weekly meetings for 45 minutes to an hour. Most coaching relationships will last for months and some even years if the coaching proves productive and the client has multiple areas in which they would like to see their life improve. With meeting at a weekly rate, most coaching partnerships last 3-6 months at the very least to ensure that their desired development is achieved.
    Coaching differs greatly from therapeutic counseling. Coaching does not have the same oversight nor necessary qualifications in education and training as psychotherapy preparation. A basic way of understanding differences between the two forms of people helpers is that therapy works towards healing while coaching works forward into growth. Below are some of the more general differences between therapy and coaching.
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