Chatting to my aunt today, we were discussing the similarities and differences between coaching, counselling and psychotherapy – so called “talking” approaches.
Coaching, counselling and therapy each have a different focus, but they have in common a particular outcome to be achieved; they require a willing subject who wants to participate, and a skilled listener who will enable the client to open up and gain new insights about themselves and how they think. Some clients come to coaching and may have previously dealt with issues from their past with a counsellor or therapist, some may not. Many people though still may not be familiar with the different focus of each. My aunt said that a friend of hers had once explained the difference between counselling and therapy as follows.
When you go to counselling, it’s like a car going to the garage to have, let’s say, a flat tyre fixed – a specific problem, that may have a root cause, perhaps a problem with the tyre to begin with. With therapy, there’s a much more endemic issue; in the case of the car, it won’t drive, we may not know exactly why – so we need to go back and look at how it was built, how the problem arose, perhaps take it apart to some extent and rebuild it.
So we discussed how coaching fits into that analogy, and we concluded that coaching helps the driver to figure out where they wants to go and how to get there, sometimes identifying the road blocks, dealing with occasional false starts, and striving to become a better driver. I thought it was a useful model to underline both the commonality and differences.
It reminded me of an old joke – so forgive me for paraphrasing “How many coaches does it take to change a tyre?… Just one, but the tyre has to want to change”. Yeah, I know, sorry, but thanks Auntie Cel!
Your further insights and comments on this topic always welcome!
Liz Barron, Realize Coaching – www.realize.ie
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