Myth: Counselling is about the past and coaching engages in the present and the future.
There is some truth in this but in reality it is more complex than this. When I am coaching a clearer goal has been agreed with the individual and we are usually aiming for change that will facilitate this goal.
With counselling it is sometimes a lot less clear what the issue is and what the change needs to be. The start point is often that the client wants to feel less anxious or depressed and this can take a consider amount of time to resolve.
However, counselling is not always about going over the past. As one example, I worked with one client who was being bullied at work. I saw him for twelve sessions and we agreed that this would be the sole focus of the counselling. There was never any discussion of his personal life. He felt that everyone close to him was bored with him talking about being bullied and he needed someone to fully hear him experience. This gave him the support that he needed.
Coaching can also be about patterns of behaviour that reach back into the past and sometimes these need to be deeply explored in order to gain new perspectives and for change to begin.
Myth: coaching is designed for performance and counselling is designed for healing trauma.
This is an outdated view. Coaching can be used to address emotional issues and the majority of counselling that is offered by doctors and employment assistance programmes are short-term (often one assessment followed by six sessions).
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Sue Houghton, Coaching Today, January 2013.