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Counseling vs Coaching; What's the Difference?


Counseling vs Coaching; What's the Difference?

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Life Coach? Psychologist? Marriage Counselor? Who do I choose and what's the difference?

Our love and relationships are important to us. And when we’re looking to overcome challenges or strengthen our bond with our partner, it can be hard to know where to turn for help. It’s frustrating enough to be in need of advice, and not knowing where to find it can only make things worse. While it may seem like there are no clear boundaries between Life Coaching, Mental Health Counseling, Psychiatry and Psychology, they certainly are different from each other. Let’s explore the differences.

Where Do You Start?

When talking about the differences between counseling and coaching, there’s a simple answer, and of course, a more complex answer. The simple answer is:

• Mental Health Counseling, Psychiatry, and Psychology are all designed to address the issues of your PAST, with a focus on diagnosing and treating Mental Illness. These professionals are most helpful if you are having moderate to severe emotional difficulties, have a chemical imbalance, or ingrained behavioral problems due to past/recent/current trauma. Mental Health Counseling generally centers around the five major categories of Mental Illness, which are; Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia Disorders, Dementia, and Eating Disorders. Because of all that is involved with these kinds of challenges, licensed counseling can often involve medication and be a slower, more complex process than coaching.

• A Life Coach works with your FUTURE, helping to alleviate situational stress, evaluating your current life situation, empowering you to create a plan of attack for the future and offering supportive guidance to help you achieve your goals. While Life Coaches will always take into account where you’ve been, a Coach’s goal isn’t to dissect the past, it’s to get you where you want to be. Effective Life Coaching will motivate you to move forward and overcome your specific challenges. It’s important to note that Life Coaching should never be used to take the place of seeking professional mental health services when they’re necessary.

The complex answer starts with an understanding of when you should seek Mental Health Counseling, Psychiatry, or Psychology over Life Coaching. There are many factors to consider, but generally, if you are experiencing persisting symptoms in any category of Mental Illness, it’s a good time to have a discussion about your issues with your Primary Care Doctor, who can further refer you to a specialist for your needs. While chronic mental health issues are serious and can be debilitating, the good news is that there are many excellent licensed providers that can provide you with successful treatment, should you decide to seek them out.

Psychology and Psychiatry generally work off of a system called Psychopathology. Psychopathology is a process used by mental health professionals to diagnose a mental health issue and find the right treatment, based on a patient’s individual medical needs. This process largely takes into account your past and present circumstances to promote mental health and stability. Coaching does not (and should not) take the place of this vital medical process.

But that’s not to say that coaching isn’t an effective way to create positive change in your life, even for those who are living with a mental illness. Coaching is an incredibly powerful tool that encourages you, the client, to find your own answers and can be VERY effective, especially in addition to Mental Health Counseling.

We’ve all been coached before and we’ve all coached others. Maybe you had a Grandparent or Supervisor who went above and beyond to mentor you, build your confidence, and offer you support and new perspectives based on their experience? Maybe you’ve spent time encouraging your friends to have healthier relationships, or motivated a co-worker to hit the gym and work out with you? These simple, every day ways we build each other up help to develop our skills and deal with issues and challenges before they become bigger problems.

We are all capable of empowering ourselves and overcoming life’s challenges. But no matter how hard we try, many of us are still left feeling that we’re just not coming up with any practical solutions. We’re right on the edge of moving forward towards our goals, but what we’re trying just isn’t effective.

That’s where coaching comes in. A qualified Life Coach will walk you through the process of asking different questions. Questions that open up new perspectives, which lead to completely new answers and opportunities. It’s not a detailed analysis of your weaknesses, your past, or your trauma. It’s about finding clarity and practical solutions so you can have the life, relationship, and success you want.

While both Coaching and Counseling can offer different types of value to people depending on their needs, most experts agree that Life Coaches and Mental Health Professionals can coexist together, and that their clients will likely benefit from access to both services.



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About the Author


PolyRick has contributed 8 sexy blogs.

Rick Broider is a popular Open Life Coach specializing in personal growth and healthy sexuality. Rick has many years of experience working with ethically non-monogamous lifestyles (polyamorous, swinger, etc.), and unconventional relationship structures as well as with individuals and couples representing many sexualities. He also has a long history supporting anyone who is in or exploring Open/Kinky/BDSM relationships and is an incredible resource for couples looking to strengthen their primary bond while opening their relationship to new possibilities.

In addition to his success as an O.P.E.N. Relationship Workshop Leader and Educator, you can find Rick presenting at events from Maryland (D.O. Fusion) to Jamaica (KS Week 2016 / 2017). Rick is the former host of the Tampa Bay Area Munch, a monthly event that has provided resources and support for those who are kink-curious in the Tampa Area for over 15 years.

Rick is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sexuality, and offers advice to his clients and the public about issues such as monogamy, open relationships, long term relationship health, and self-compassion. He writes about these and many other sexual/relationship topics on several online blog sites.

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