I don’t want you to make the mistake that many people make when they use the word coaching as a synonym for mentoring training and counselling. They are not the same – not at all.

Many people use the word coach interchangeably with mentoring training and counselling, but this is a mistake.

Although properly trained ICF competency based coaching skills do enhance the skills of mentors, trainers, therapists and counsellors, it is still an entirely different modality and profession.

The confusion probably arises, because there are at least 3 overlapping skills and because some of the intentions of these modalities are the same.

The overlapping skills that are shared by good quality teaching, mentoring, counselling and coaching include:

 

Listening skills

All of these professions need to learn to listen well. So professionals are taught listening techniques. The most common of which is reflective listening techniques.

Just make sure that you aren’t using the old-fashioned reflective listening methods that start sentences with, “So if I understand you correctly…

This is overused and can actually be very irritating. Also, make sure that you don’t get taught to put what you hear into your own words.

Amazingly, this is taught to many professionals. It’s outdated and can actually break trust and rapport instead of building rapport.

Instead learn a listening skill that is easy to use and natural such as, backtracking which is the preferred listening technique that we teach at InnerLifeSkills.

Rapport building skills

To build trust with others all these professionals need to learn rapport building methods.

Some methods are cheesy and manipulative — used by con artists and unethical sales people. To build trust we earn the privilege of changing lives so I believe that it is important to do this in an ethical and natural way.

As professional coaches, we are not trying to manipulate people instead we respect them and earn their trust by being willing to build the bridge to them. All professionals are taught trust building skills.

Questioning skills

Psychologists, counsellors, mentors and teachers are usually taught how to ask questions, they are not always taught the difference between empowering and disempowering questions. In fact some coaches are also not taught this properly.

InnerLifeSkills Coaches are taught what we call spiral up questions, which are questions that help us to focus on the solutions rather than the problems, the future and present potential rather than the past and on the positive rather than on negativity.

The intention behind good quality teaching, mentoring, counselling and coaching at a high level is also simply to empower and help people.

So what are the key differences then?

First of all coaching focuses on the present and the future.

It does not dig into the past or the problem. This doesn’t mean that it ignores the problem it simply focuses on finding solutions and moving people forward.

This is why, the many psychologists and counsellors that we have trained, have enjoyed coaching so much. Because once they have helped somebody through the trauma work, coaching is a natural bridge to help somebody to move forward and rebuild their lives.

Imagine my surprise, when a psychiatrist who was training with us said to me after only six hours of training, that she was disappointed.

When I asked her what she was disappointed about, she said that she wasn’t disappointed in her training, but that she was disappointed that for the 12 years that she worked as a psychiatrist, she’d never known how to coach.

She said this was the perfect modality to complement her existing work, and that suited people that are basically well and looking to improve their lives.

 

Here is a breakdown of key differences between coaching and some of its complementary professions.

1. Coaching versus Training

PURE INNERLIFESKILLS
LIFE COACHING

  • Gives Advice 0% 0%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 10% 10%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 100% 100%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 100% 100%
  • Excavates inner strength 100% 100%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 100% 100%

PURE TRADITIONAL TRAINING AND TEACHING

  • Gives Advice 100% 100%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 100% 100%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 10% 10%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 0% 0%
  • Excavates inner strength 10% 10%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 10% 10%

A trainer transfers their knowledge and skills to others by teaching them what to do and giving them advice.

A coach does not give their knowledge and skills or advice to othersinstead they wake up the best of someone’s knowledge and skills so that someone helps themselves.

  • A trainer says, “Here are 3 solutions that are commonly used to overcome that problem.”
  • An InnerLifeSkills life coach says, “What are 3 possible solutions that you can think of to overcome that problem?”

Unless a coach is using a blended approach of both training and coaching, they would not tell somebody what the solutions were. Neither are they instructing or giving their own knowledge to another person. In fact according to the International Coach Federation, if you teach or consult by giving advice or knowledge to someone, you are in breach of coaching ethics.

Remember that it is entirely possible to use a combination of coaching and other methodologies, we call this blended coaching.

 

I became a much better trainer, mentor and author because of learning coaching skills.

2. Coaching versus Mentoring

PURE INNERLIFESKILLS
LIFE COACHING

  • Gives Advice 0% 0%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 0% 0%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 100% 100%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 100% 100%
  • Excavates inner strength 100% 100%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 100% 100%

PURE TRADITIONAL TRAINING AND TEACHING

  • Gives Advice 100% 100%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 100% 100%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 30% 30%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 10% 10%
  • Excavates inner strength 10% 10%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 40% 40%

A mentor uses their extensive experience to guide someone on a similar path to their own.

So for example in business, if you wanted to learn at an accelerated rate how to get a promotion, you might ask to be mentored by a senior person who has already walked the path that you are on.

Mentors give advice and show others how to navigate a path forward. They share their expertise and their experience.

The mentor says, “This is what I have done to reach the success that I have.”
A coach says, “What could you possibly do to reach the success that you want?”

If we mentor someone, we are helping them to get to where we are.

When we coach someone we help them to help themselves to get to where they want to be. As coaches we don’t tell them how to do this, so the pressure is off us.

When you give someone advice you’re liable for that advice.

We make ourselves responsible for others when we tell them what to do. So we need to be very sure that we are licensed and legally covered to do so.

This is why professions that give advice for a living usually have liability insurance. As coaches we are less likely to encounter these kinds of legal difficulties because we don’t give advice. Instead, we help people to find their own best solutions, to come up with their own actions and to take accountability for their own progress.

If I want to mentor a brain surgeon, I’d better know everything there is to know about brain surgery because I’m going to be giving advice.

But if I want to coach a brain surgeon, I don’t need to know anything about brain surgery, I only need to know how to coach at professional levels. I’m going to help the brain surgeon to help themselves.

This means that coaches can coach anyone.

You don’t have to be an expert in the topic that you are coaching. It helps to be credible if you choose a coaching specialty for example, if you decide to coach executives you should understand the professional corporate world of executives.

The true professional coaching means that you can coach anyone, anywhere, on any topic. This makes coaching a plug and play profession.

This makes it quite different to teaching and mentoring.

2. Coaching versus Counselling

PURE INNERLIFESKILLS
LIFE COACHING

  • Gives Advice 0% 0%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 10% 10%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 100% 100%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 100% 100%
  • Excavates inner strength 100% 100%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 100% 100%

PURE TRADITIONAL TRAINING AND TEACHING

  • Gives Advice 100% 100%
  • Transfers knowledge and skills 100% 100%
  • Facilitates thinking exercises to gain new insight 10% 10%
  • Helps people to overcome their inner obstacles 0% 0%
  • Excavates inner strength 10% 10%
  • Liberates Inner Wealth 10% 10%

The counsellor or therapist is happy to navigate in the territory of pain, problems and the past.

In many styles of counselling and psychology, the root causes of suffering are looked for in the story. In pure coaching, we don’t avoid the story of the past but we gently move the client’s attention towards the present in the future.

If somebody needs therapy, we as coaches refer them to a therapist.

Amazingly, well trained coaches can change lives without giving advice, without digging into the past, without focusing on the problem.

The counsellor says, “Why is that so painful for you?”

The coach says, “Why is it important for you to heal that pain?”

A coaching session is usually quite focused in comparison to a counselling session. Although InnerLifeSkills master level coaching is very flexible, intuitive and creative in its style, all coaching still must contain a focus on goals, solutions and some kind of action plan.

Even if the goal is an emotional, creative or spiritual one. Coaching doesn’t always have to be practical; in fact, master MCC level coaching emphasizes coaching holistically, whereas ACC entry level coaching is more surface.

9/10 times, a coached meeting or session achieves something tangible for the client, that helps them to move forward towards a clear destination — a goal or objective that the client has determined.

There are certainly counsellors in the world that use more of a coaching approach, but on the whole counselling doesn’t have this focus of creating tangible forward moving outcomes in every meeting.

Poorly trained coaches don’t know how to make quick progress for their clients. But properly trained coaches can help their clients to make very real progress towards a goal in even half an hour of coaching.

This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between coaching and counselling.

 

Summary of the difference between life coaching and counselling, training and mentoring.

• Life coaching is significantly different to counselling, mentoring and training.
• Counsellors, mentors, trainers and psychologists all enjoy learning to coach because coaching adds another dimension to their work.
• Professional life coaches (if they follow the ICF global standards) don’t offer advice and therefore they are not legally liable and do not carry the responsibility of giving advice. This also means that professional life coaches can coach anyone who wants to make progress towards a goal.

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