The Difference Between Connection Coaching & Counseling/Therapy

We all come with baggage.  We all go through periods of struggle, fog, stagnation, internal and external conflict, and shame spirals.  We've all got a history with small t trauma and some of us with big T trauma.  And we all want a future with more peace, fulfillment, deeper connection, wisdom and clarity.  We all come with a Past, Present and Future.  

Both coaching and therapy work toward the same goals for the future, but tackling different obstacles and aspects of the journey in getting there.  The counseling/therapy field tends to focus on helping us heal and clear the things from our past that are interfering with our ability to live presently and into the future the way we desire.  Coaching is a relatively new field that has emerged as a result of our conscious evolution and the subsequent desire to more intentionally create our future.  I prefer to view these 2 interrelated fields as a Venn diagram, both addressing our emotional, mental, spiritual health with the common goal stated above.  However, while therapy/counseling tends to focus on the past and healing trauma and coaching tends to focus on the future, the two overlap at times, as many related professions/fields do.   Both fields typically address the present and there may be some future focus in therapy and some past focus in coaching.  Depending on the focus and expertise of each individual coach and counselor, the philosophy, approach and interventions will vary and there are certainly exceptions to the above generalization.

For 15 years I have worked as an occupational therapist in community mental health, in the schools with children with significant trauma history, and with elders in long-term care with dementia and mental illness.  I have worked in close collaboration with related professions including social work, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.  I have been well trained in providing trauma-informed care, not just as an OT but as I approach all people in all contexts from any role I may have with them.  I very clearly understand the boundaries of my expertise and qualifications as an OT and a Coach, and always respect and maintain those boundaries to ensure the well-being of my clients and my professional integrity.  This is true for all related fields, we are fortunate to have so many fields which address all aspects of our experience of living and I believe strongly that we must work collaboratively as professionals, by referring out to other professions when we see that need for our client.  

So how do you determine if a therapist or coach is best for you right now, you ask?

If you find yourself struggling, and have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with that closet in the attic that you never wanted to open, or have a feeling like you've always been running from your past, then finding a counselor or therapist to help you clean out that closet is a big step toward building the future you want.  On the other hand, if you feel well acquainted with the skeletons in your closet and your past does not feel like anything to run from, but you still find yourself or your relationships lacking a sense of fulfillment or connection and would like to remedy that, then coaching is probably just what you need. 

That said, often when we're struggling we do not always know right away what we need or why we're unhappy, in this circumstance I say go with your gut instinct- listen to and trust yourself.  If you find someone who really resonates with you, try it out!  If it's not the right fit, then you will know and can keep looking until you find the right person... or the professional will know and refer you on to someone who might be a better fit.  Either way just take a step and try it out, you can always reserve the right to change your mind! 





Ellen TannerComment