Counselling or coaching – what’s the difference?
Both are support mechanisms for living life well. Counselling is a therapeutic approach to support emotional wellbeing. Coaching is more like a life planning support to help you find the direction you need.
In practical terms, both generally offer hour-long sessions, often a series of 6 at a time; once a week or once a month, depending on what suits you.
Whether you opt for counselling or coaching, the introductory session is an important opportunity to test the chemistry between the support person and the ‘client’ before committing. That’s critical. We get good vibes from people we click with and it can be harder to work through difficult issues if we don’t feel we quite ‘get’ each other. It’s just as important for the counsellor or coach; they won’t be offended if you decide they’re not right for you.
Some individual practitioners offer counselling or coaching services and you can discuss at your first session what you’d like to work through so they can agree with you what sort of support might fit best. A coaching session can feel like a counselling session at times, when we dig deep and begin to address the real underlying issues that stop us moving forward.
Fees for counselling or coaching can vary greatly between £30 and £100 an hour – depending on the market. Well worth the investment to take care of yourself.
Counselling offers a safe and confidential place where we can talk about ourselves, our life and anything we may be finding difficult or painful. It offers the opportunity to express and explore the thoughts, feelings and experience of loss more fully and can help find ways of supporting our own way through life.
In a counselling relationship, the client is always in control; deciding what they do and don’t want to talk about and all in their own time.
There are lots of different strands and approaches within the broad term ‘counselling’ – Gesthalt, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Person-Centred. You can ask your counsellor what their school of thought or base of practice is.
Coaching – sometimes called ‘life coaching’ or ‘personal coaching’ (or in the business world, ‘executive coaching’ or ‘talent management’) – is a great support to help plan and manage life. This can be hugely helpful after a big life change… like living with illness or coping with loss and bereavement.
Coaching has a more active, goal-orientated approach. A coach brings a process while you identify goals and decide how to tackle them. A coach won’t tell you what to do but they’ll help explore options, costs and benefits and support you to develop strategies for going forward.
Don’t be put off by the corporate feel of some coaches websites. Many coaches work with big organisations as well as individuals and have fee structures and approaches that accommodate both.
See our Marketplace for a directory of counsellors and coaches.