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Coaching or therapy? It can be confusing to know what is the best form of professional support for the challenges you face. Find out how coaching can benefit you.

Should you choose coaching or therapy?

It can be confusing to know what is the best form of professional support for the challenges we face. Should we work with a mentor, a life coach, a business coach, perhaps a psychologist or mental health practitioner, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist or a counsellor. Even with therapy, many different forms exist; person centred, cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic, group, emotion-focused and more.

Here, I offer an insight into life coaching to offer perhaps a better understanding of how it might benefit you.

People of all ages come to coaching, from teen to those heading towards retirement, whatever their culture or background or sexual orientation. Across my many years in coaching, I’ve met clients from all over the world including Iceland, Switzerland, China, Poland, South Africa, the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland and France. Coaching is inclusive and celebrates diversity. Clients with emotional struggles and with physical disabilities come to coaching. Health is no barrier to coaching.

I like best to describe coaching as a forward focused, action oriented, sometimes challenging, frequently exciting form of professional support. My coaching looks at the whole of you; your personality and behavioural preferences, your experience and skills, your self worth and more. This holistic approach considers your life in its entirety.

At a starting point in coaching, it looks at what is happening right now, or not happening often and then looks to understand what steps are needed to move forward to achieve what’s important to you; happiness, meaning, fulfilment, contentment, success, goals and dreams in areas related to life such as relationships, finances, health, social life, personal life, learning, wellbeing and so forth.

It has awareness of our past but doesn’t focus there. It appreciates that all our experiences to date, physically and emotionally lead us to now. Coaching concentrates on the present and into the future; next week, next month, next year.

There is a momentum to coaching in terms of taking action and thereby undertaking agreed tasks, emotionally and practically, in between sessions to move forward. This creates change, step by small step or through giant leaps.

In her recent book ‘In Therapy, the Unfolding Story’, Susie Orbach the famous psychotherapist outlines how conversations with psychotherapists really work. She reveals that the work of therapy is to open up people on three levels: feelings, words and ideas. The same is relevant to coaching.

Furthermore she mentions, and this is poignant, ‘therapy doesn’t seek to fix the problem in a simplistic way, although good therapy always addresses the problem that is brought in.’

This is fundamentally where coaching differs. Life coaching really does look to fix the issues and challenges now. The importance of action here differentiates too. This is about agreeing what is needed to be done differently, to change where you are at, discuss what steps need to happen to unravel life’s events and/ or to move forward.

If you’re feeling more caterpillar than butterfly, coaching can help you find your wings. And more.

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