Do I Need Coaching or Counseling?
To help you better answer this question, I have included some written statements about the difference between coaching and counseling and a list of questions for you to answer.
Counseling vs. Coaching
A woman is feeling depressed and anxious because she and her husband have been drifting apart for years. Another is feeling more hopeful about her marriage but just seems stuck in a rut after having kids. She shows no symptoms of depression or anxiety, but wants to move forward enjoying her marriage and making the most of life with her kids.
Should these women see a therapist or a relationship coach? Or both? And what exactly is the difference between the two?
A therapist helps by focusing on past issues, resolving old wounds, and dealing with personal problems that need to be analyzed and solved.
The coach, on the other hand, is a mentor or guide. Coaches focus on making one’s future vision and dreams for their marriage, parenting, or family relationships come alive now with accountability and action steps co-designed by the coach and the client.
Leslie Lupinsky, a master certified coach, states, “So much therapy is about the past and present and all about focusing the client toward healing. Coaching, on the other hand, is about helping a client look forward so they can expand their options and take action."
Relationship coaching is not about fixing a root problem per se, but rather helping a client get out of their mundane routines and comfort zone, and get more out of their life and relationships now.
Although therapy also can be experienced in the present moment, it often focuses on the family of origin. On the other hand, coaching is a process whereby the client is consciously choosing a preferred future and at the same time living life fully and purposefully now. Coaching clarifies what the client wants to improve upon, whether it is their marriage relationship, parenting strategies, use of technology, dating or premarital process, or even spirituality.
Is coaching or counseling the best option for me at this time?
Consider the following questions:
1. Do I have any symptoms that I suspect may be depression such as extreme sadness, fatigue, trouble sleeping, lack of interest in pleasurable activities, inability to focus at work or accomplish tasks?
2. Do I have any symptoms of anxiety such as restlessness, fearfulness, extreme stress or panic attacks?
3. Have you had thoughts of suicide in the last 12 months?
4. Has anyone in your life expressed concern over your use of a substance (drugs or alcohol) or a behavior they feel might be harmful to you? Are you concerned about your use of a substance or a behavior, like pornography, that you have trouble controlling?
5. Have you experienced a traumatic event in your life that still creates difficulty for you (troubling memories, nightmares, flashbacks, fear and anxiety, etc.)?
6. Do you suspect that the challenges or problems you are facing today are related to an event or a time in your past or are related something you may have experienced as a child or teen?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, counseling/psychotherapy would most likely be the best choice for you at this time.
Or consider these questions:
1. Do you feel stable in your relationships at this time, but would like to grow or improve in a specific area (marriage, parenting strategies, relationships, spirituality/faith)?
2. Are you going through a time of transition in your life (following a loss, divorce, job change, illness, retirement, graduation, etc.) and need support and direction with relationships through the transition?
3. Have you found yourself "stuck" in a particular area of your relationships where you have not been able to move forward or accomplish goals (parenting patterns with kids, marriage relationship, faith, dating relationships, etc.)?
4. Do you have dreams for your life, marriage, parenting, relationships, or kids that you want accountability and support in achieving?
5. Do you want to be better at some aspect of your relationships (parenting, communication, conflict resolution, spiritual disciplines, etc.)?
6. Are your challenges/problems in relationships focused on today and the future?
If you answered yes to some of these questions and did not answer yes to any of the previous questions, then coaching is probably the best choice for you at this time.
I look forward to best serving you,
Joshua Straub, Ph.D.
Marriage, Parenting, & Leadership Coach
*Please note: Dr. Straub provides marriage, parenting, and leadership coaching and education, and does not provide psychological treatment or therapy.