What is a coach or life strategist? How is that different from a counselor? What is the advantage of using coaching services? What are the limitations of a coach?
First things first. Therapists and coaches have cross-over in the roles they may play in your life (sounding board, confidant, supporter) which requires a similar skill set. They both ask questions, challenge assumptions, help provide clarity, and assist in finding resources. Most importantly, neither one of them plays the role of problem-solver in your life. YOU are the expert in you and ultimately must live with the outcomes of your decisions.
The differences? Here are a few: 1) Therapists are licensed to counsel clients ONLY in the state in which they reside (unless they carry licenses for more than one state). 2) Therapy is for recovery (from the past, addiction, trauma, unwanted behaviors, etc.) and self-nurturance. 3) There are state and national standards for therapists.
Anyone, with any background, can call themselves a coach. There are no state or federal standards that must be adhered to. However, there are programs that offer certification in coaching and are held to the standards of the International Coach Federation. [I chose a program recommended by the ICF (Life Purpose Institute) and am in the process of earning my certification.] This is a disadvantage to you, the client, looking for a coach. You have no idea what kind of training or education, if any, the potential coach has had.
So, what is coaching and the role of a coach? Coaching is about DOING and DISCOVERY. It’s about the future. Goals, hopes, and dreams. Coaching is not for analyzing past hurts and figuring out why they play a role in your life today. Coaching is about the here and now and bridging the gap to where you want to be. You may be looking for an assessor (of skills, needs), mentor, facilitator, demonstrator, advisor, supporter, fact finder, motivator, organizer, or planner and a coach can be any or all of these. This is how you will start to narrow down the right fit for you!
A coach will work with you to address your individualized goals from beginning to end and all the stuff in between to develop your full potential. The “in between” often includes blocks and obstacles that may be emotional, or literal, and will need to be addressed to keep you moving forward and on track to living the life you want. How does a coach do this? Motivational interviewing to help gain self-awareness and clarify goals; solution-focused practices to achieve objectives; and a willingness to walk with you through overcoming self-defeating behaviors and unlocking your potential. Even the most highly motivated client can get in their own way and when that happens, I can dig into my tool bag and use evidence-based tools to help you reach your destination.
Let’s talk advantages and limitations to coaching. Advantages to working with a coach includes finding the right fit for you and your goals, wants, dreams, and needs ANYWHERE! You may be in po-dunk Montana (like me!), but the right coach for you may be in London. Scheduling is often more flexible, and you get to meet from the comfort of your own home! You get similar benefits as you would from therapy including personal development/growth, improved skills and changed behavior, and increased self-awareness. The focus of coaching sessions is to set and meet goals (humans are good at setting goals…not so good at achieving them without support and motivation) in a shortened, focused time frame. Finally, coaches serve as a continuous source of inspiration, motivation, and energy to guide you in life transitions and career advancement.
But it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. There are limitations and disadvantages of choosing coaching services over therapy or nothing at all. The biggest disadvantage I see with coaching, is that it can be costly. Where counseling is often covered by insurance carriers, coaching services are strictly out-of-pocket expenses (but check with your HSA! The services may qualify!) and rates vary widely based on location of the coach, educational and experiential backgrounds, and type of services offered. For example, an executive coach in L.A. may bill at a rate of $200/hr!!
Other limitations of coaching?
Well, remember, we are not here to tell you what to do. If that is what you are looking for- coaching is not the right fit.
Coaches are also not here to sell you discontent and unhappiness with the life you currently have. If your life is good or good enough- congratulations! We could all use a little less of the FOMO that seems to be highly contagious these days!
If you hate change, coaching and/or therapy, is not right for you. At least, not right now. Having said that, know that you are not unique in wishing for something different but then fearing the thought of having to do the work to get there. It has become commonplace to hear someone say, out loud, how they wish their present was different in some way only to immediately roadblock themselves with the fear of everything that goes in to making lasting change happen.
Finally, coaching is NOT a replacement for therapy. If you need professional counseling services and are unsure where to start, call 2-1-1. In many states, dialing “211” is a shortcut through the maze of health and human service agency resources and operators can help direct you to appropriate referrals.
Here is what I want you to take away from this post: As a coach, my role is to propel you into discovering and achieving future goals. Our time together will be motivational, and solution focused. I may not have a crystal ball or the gift of foresight, but experience has taught me that a failure to plan is a plan to fail…and the best way to predict life?? Design it!
I would love nothing more than to be of assistance in preventing failure from happening to you! The best way to know if coaching is right for you? Start asking questions! Give me a call/text/email/message and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.