Difference between Life Coaching and Counseling
At different times in people’s life journeys, they need different support. For those who are in emotional pain, suffering the traumas of childhood and adult tragedies, their support will come from psychotherapists and counseling programs. In the initial stages of recovery from addictions, sponsors and recovery programs will provide the specialized support necessary to get through those troubling times.
Once lives are mostly free of past hurts and the task at hand is to live life to its fullest and to grow emotionally, spiritually, and skillfully as a mature person, many folks find that it is quite useful to have a life coach to walk along side them, to provide support as they explore the possibilities and develop the skills needed to live wonderfully successful lives.
With a master’s degree in counseling psychology and many years of counseling and therapeutic experience, I have a deep understanding of that process and just how it differs from Life Coaching. I do not do therapy when I am coaching. If I feel that a Life Coaching client’s needs would be better served by being in a therapeutic counseling relationship, I will suggest that the client seek therapeutic assistance. Of course, I will coach the client through the process of finding a suitable therapist.
Sponsorship as I see it
The main purpose of a sponsor is to teach to sponsee how to work the 12 Steps. After that, the sponsor acts as a source of continual support for the sponsee as he or she initially works through the Steps. The sponsor also acts as a guide and interpreter of the Steps as the sponsee continues to apply them throughout his or her life.
Life Coaching as I see it
A coach is a person who has the training and the life experience to be able to assist clients to exquisitely walk through life’s tribulations, transitions and joys. A life coach is well versed and experienced in the teaching of life skills, such as effective communications, both with others and with one’s self; relationship building; setting and achieving goals and, in general, leading a more fulfilling life.
When I work with people in recovery, I require that they have a sponsor and that they have at least finished their initial fourth and fifth steps. Even better, I would prefer that they have completed the first nine steps. I set this prerequisite because I believe that the purpose of coaching is to assist people to work through the growth process that only occurs after they have cleared out most of the old emotional garbage (bad feelings, resentments, etc.) that they accumulated prior to getting into recovery. I find that people who have not done a rigorous and complete fourth and fifth steps are still living, feelings-wise, in the fears and traumas of their old lifestyles with all the drama and knee-jerk reactions that those feelings will trigger. They have little ability to grow beyond the basics of “not using just for today.” Life Coaching is for people who are incorporating the 12 Steps and the other tools the Program affords into their lives and are now in the process of tackling all those other things that people walk through when their lives are no longer consumed with chasing the next high.