What Makes Life Coaching Unique?

Life coaching is sometimes confused with teaching, mentoring and counselling. In practice, all of these approaches share some common elements and a coach may draw on aspects from each one. There is often a degree of education involved in the coaching process, and the coach may sometimes act as a mentor, sometimes as a counsellor. In addition, coaches often draw on techniques originally developed for use in counselling or teaching situations.

Coaching and Counselling

As noted above, there are some similarities between these two areas and, indeed, many life coaches are also qualified counsellors or psychotherapists. The differences lie in emphasis and approach. A life coach will not undertake therapeutic work with a client. Even if a life coach is also a qualified therapist it can be confusing for the client if the life coach were also to provide therapy – far better to refer them to another counsellor or psychotherapist for this part of their journey.

Most counselling approaches and all psychotherapy focus on the past as a way of making sense of the present. They are largely about explaining emotions, feelings and reactions, and the experiences that combine to make us the people we are. They are based on the premise that by understanding an event, and working through the associated emotions, we can reduce its power and move nearer to our full potential as human beings. In bereavement counselling, for instance, the client will be encouraged to untangle the complex maelstrom of feelings they have about the death. By identifying the feeling, and giving it expression, it loses its power. Life coaching, in contrast, focuses almost exclusively on the ‘here and now’ and the future.

Life coaches do not believe clients necessarily need to know why they behave in the way they do in order to change it. As suggested above, however, there are times when clients may need to deal with past issues before they can move forward in their lives – this is particularly true when trying to change their belief system.

Life coaching places more emphasis on teaching clients coping strategies and techniques than do most forms of counselling and psychotherapy. However, all three approaches seek ultimately to enable the client – so that they can make their own decisions, plan their own future, and find their own life balance.

The life coach may draw on a range of models and techniques when working with clients, for example:

Neurolinguistic programming – NLP involves a series of techniques and procedures that can be used to explain and plan behaviour; the emphasis is on performing to one’s full potential.

Cognitive behavioural therapy – CBT is based on the idea that the way you think about events in your life profoundly influences the way you feel about them; change the way you think and this will, in turn, change the way you feel.

Time management – this may involve a range of organisational tools and techniques, but the central principle is simple and profound: Spend your time doing the things you value or the things that help you to achieve your goals.

If after reading this article you decide that counselling or psychotherapy is more suited to your needs visit Counselling-uk – there you can find local therapists as well as counsellors working by telephone, skype or email.