I have recently started a coaching course, a 20 days course, over 6 months, as part of my continual development. Although I have lots of experience in counselling, I thought coaching was an area I wanted to find more about as many of my clients are referred by coaches.
On the course, and in coaching books, a distinction is made between coaching, counselling or psychotherapy.
Coaching focuses on improving performance or creating results. Coaching is not good for traumatic events, mental illnesses or situations where we lack control.
Generally it is understood that counselling/psychotherapy focuses on problems and coaching on solutions. Counselling/psychotherapy focuses on the past and coaching on the future.
The International Coaching Federation describes coaching as "Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential".
In reality, from my experience and talking to other counsellors/psychotherapists, I have found that no matter what clients bring to the table, the direction it takes depends on the situation and how proceedings turn out.
We may start with a complaint, something the client wants to get rid of, but what actually turns out to be beneficial is that they practise doing one thing that will make the problem disappear. Often in a therapy I would bring elements of coaching. i.e. with depressed clients, teaching them to becoming mindful of what they are doing, to be more present and aware, in small tasks, such as making tea, and then increasing the scope of the task.
The reverse is also true. People go to see a Coach because they don't get to do what they are supposed to do, such as clearing their house, or doing their tax return. A Coach may succeed in helping their clients in doing so. They may break down the task in smaller pieces, like spoon feeding the mind with mini tasks it is happy to accept.
Often the reason the coaching works is beyond the obvious, like relational aspects, the client unconsciously wanting to please a person of authority, so they do what they are supposed to do. When the Coach is not "watching" though... the client may revert to its procrastination pattern.
Many coaches talk about being frustrated and not understanding clients who seems to do the right thing and yet do not progress.
The reasons people procrastinate are many and can be insidious and pernicious. They are usually not even conscious of it. The mind conceives good reasons for a desired outcome not to happen. Someone putting off what they are supposed to do can be addressed by a coach, and it can be successful, but underlying patterns are best addressed by a counsellor/psychotherapist.
Next time I will explain the differences between various psychotherapies.
Coaching Development, where I do the course:
The International Coaching Federation