Is mental health coaching the same as mental health counseling? Do they do the same thing? Do they treat the same people? If not, what are the differences?
The Definition of Mental Health Coaching
Mental health coaching helps clients envision life without depression or other obstacles to emotional well-being. It is a niche within the coaching field which touches on therapy, but it does not work with or attempt to treat mental illness. Coaches in this niche don’t view mental health in terms of illness or psychological problems; they view it as an issue needing life goals clarification and identification,, support and guidance, behavior modification, and life skills training.
These are the main areas on which mental health coaches work:
- Identifying, clarifying, and defining goals.
- Creating a plan that will use the client’s skills and strengths to reach those goals.
- Holding the client accountable for progress and achievement of those goals.
- Providing structure, inspiration, guidance, motivation, and support.
The Definition of Mental Health Counseling
Counselors have a broader range of clients they can work with than coaches. They can work with individuals with normal cognitive processes who have experienced difficult life events, just like coaches, but they also work with people who have serious mental issues like bipolar disorder. Counselors often work as part of a mental health care team, which can include physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.
he Differences Between Mental Health Coaching and Counseling
Here are a few of the differences between coaching and counseling:
- Counselors often use the past to deal with obstacles and issues. Coaches remain in the present most of the time, touch on the past occasionally, and look to the future.
- Counselors frequently work with clients who have been advised by a health care professional that they need therapy or counseling. Coaches work with people who elect to use a coach of their own volition.
- Counseling is almost never a quick fix – it may takes years to work with some serious mental disorders. Coaching is sometimes a quick fix, though it usually takes a few months to help people overcome fears, phobias, and self-created obstacles.
- Counseling usually starts with the belief that there is something wrong or broken about the client. Coaching usually assumes nothing is really broken, and works to improve healthy individuals.
- Counseling usually works on specific problems. Coaching tends to pursue a more holistic approach to happiness and well-being.
Coaching Compared With Counseling
Let’s use an example of someone afraid of learning how to drive a car to show the difference between mental health coaching and mental health counseling. This individual had a counselor and a coach ready to help. How would they approach the problem differently?
A counselor would talk to you before you got in the care, delve into your past to find out what negative experiences you’ve had with the driving and cars.
The coach would ask you to get in the driver’s seat, sit next to you in the passenger seat, ask you where you want to go, show you the map of how to get there, hand you the keys, explain the basics of the car, and offer support and guidance as you drove away.
Though there are significant differences between mental health coaching and counseling, there is an overlap. Counselors provide many of the same services as coaches, and coaching borrows from psychology to work with clients. Both do a great job of helping clients, and they can coexist side-by-side to help people overcome mental health issues and work toward their life goals.