I have often wondered about Life Coaching, in terms of how different it might be from Counselling, and whether it is possible to integrate it into my practice. I find that I occasionally experience a sense that I have been ‘coaching’ rather than ‘counselling’ during a session with a client and have thought this is more to do with my Humanistic training in the Person Centred model, which is non-directive – so that when I feel I have moved away from that, I feel a tinge of guilt, and hope that I have not let my client down.
In fact, many clients would not know whether I have been true to my essential approach to therapeutic counselling, and often the feedback is that they have really benefited when I have stepped outside it. Sometimes, if a client feels really stuck, a slightly different approach, allowing for some focus on areas which come to light through exploration of what the ‘stuckness’ feels like, and more to the point, what needs to happen for that feeling to disappear, can bring about a solution which feels right for the client, but which they might not have recognised in the somewhat slower journey which develops from being entirely Person Centred. I have used a Solution Focused therapeutic model to enable this.
I also use some techniques which come from the Transactional Analysis therapeutic model – providing some ‘client friendly’ and accessible imagery to show what might be going on, and my own pull in this direction has always shown me how much I value this illustrative approach and that’s ok because my training ‘allowed’ me to use it! Coaching, as such, seemed outside my core training.
However, I recently attended a very valuable training day where the emphasis was on how it can be possible to integrate Coaching skills into a Counselling practice, using two, quite different models, and how it can feel right for some clients who come for counselling and find that the coaching really helps to focus on their goal. It can also feel right for clients who might be seeking Life Coaching, but who find that they receive some counselling as well – enabling a deeper exploration of where their problems arise.
It seems perfectly possible to explore your past, gain understanding and become more self aware, develop self compassion – all benefits which arise from therapeutic counselling – and then to focus on the changes you want, using some coaching strategies for recognising how to make that happen.