Life coaching is very similar to and very different from other helping professions such as counseling/therapy, mentoring, and consulting.
Many helping professionals agree on the following differentiations adapted from the manual, Becoming a Professional Life Coach by Patrick Williams and Diane S. Menendez.
Counseling looks to the past as the root of problems. It often involves dealing with and recovering from trauma of some sort, and emotions often run high and are expressions of something wrong. The counselor or therapist diagnoses the problem and then lays out a specific plan for treatment.
Mentoring involves an expert/learner type situation and training of some sort. It is generally performed by someone in your field who has more experience and/or education than you do. In this relationship, the mentor also has the answers. The client observes the behavior and expertise of the mentor and then receives the mentor’s guidance and wisdom when he or she begins the task individually.
Consulting involves an expert who is invited to observe performance. Emotions are generally not part of a consulting relationship since it is generally more business oriented than other helping fields. The consultant stands back, evaluates a situation, and then tells a client how to fix the problem. The consultant is the one with the answers. The client executes those answers.
Coaches deal with a person’s present. They guide the client helping her to attain the future she hopes for. Unlike other helping professions, coaches are not seen as the expert who tells the client what to do and how to do it but as an equal. Emotions are seen as natural and normal and it is recognized that all journeys have ups and downs. The coach uses skilled, careful questioning and dedicated listening to stand with you, identify challenges and work with you to turn challenges into victories, and holds you accountable for reaching the goals you set.
If you have more questions about coaching or what The Right Path (TRP) Life coaching can do for you, please contact me at Strahlen@TRPLifeCoaching.com