by Brenda Chand
Coaching is a positive, future-oriented form of psychology which focuses on finding fulfillment, enhanced performance, team building, vision casting, career growth, and reaching one’s goals and dreams. Coaching enables people to set and reach goals while focusing on the present and the future, possibilities, getting unstuck, and turning dreams into realities. In coaching sessions, the coach and the client (or friend) are equals who work together to bring about change. The best coaching is typically done with people who have training in coaching skills such as listening, asking powerful questions, and encouraging.
Counseling, on the other hand, often focuses on problems, dealing with conflicts, insecurities, spiritual struggles, and emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, and anger. Counseling fixes what is wrong while focusing on the causes of problems that arise from the past and on bringing healing and stability. Unlike the coaching relationship, in which the coach and client are equals, the counselor is the expert who treats clients, providing healing and direction. For this reason, counseling requires credentials and expertise in psychology, psychopathology, and therapeutic skills.
Mentoring, while appearing to be similar to coaching, is significantly different. A mentor is typically a more senior individual who imparts knowledge and skills in the areas of wisdom, opportunities, and counsel to a more junior person. A coach builds the person’s decision-making ability by asking him or her to think things through in a structured way, while the mentor teaches the person, letting him draw information from the mentor or learn from the mentor’s experience. In other words, coaching is helping people learn and pull out from within themselves, and mentors teach the person from what is within the mentor.
Consulting is similar to coaching; however, consultants are paid to analyze a situation and give expert advice. Consultants usually work with several groups at a time, asking questions and analyzing an organization in order to give direction in specific areas. In the business setting, a consultant can be used to analyze existing problems and practices, suggest better marketing and business strategies, and help companies and organizations to improve performance and develop future plans. They are experts at analyzing and making recommendations.
Coaching, then, can be as informal as two friends helping each
other tackle a problem or as formal as a professional arrangement to
accomplish the client’s specific goals.