This week I’m wading through the murky waters of the coaching and counselling industry… I’m sharing an analogy and some questions to help you understand the difference between the professions, talking about qualifications, guidelines and laws and also shedding some light on the term mentor. Finally I offer some advice to help you know which counsellor/coach/mentor is right for you and some considerations to keep in mind as a client.
I’m not an expert, but I am in the industry and these are my observations. You may very well disagree with my interpretations, but I was keen to share my views and hopefully offer some guidance. Let me know what you think over on Instagram, @katbluejay.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here.
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- Happiful article – do I need a counsellor or a coach?
- Happiful article – 5 questions you should ask yourself when you’re searching for a counsellor
- More information on counsellor qualifications guidelines
- Some key counselling professional bodies
- Some key coaching professional bodies
- How to find a coach that’s right for you
- Why is everyone becoming a coach?
So in this week’s episode, I really want to wade through the slightly murky waters or mentoring, coaching, and counselling. I want to outline what I perceive the difference to be and how you can tell which professional might be right for you.
So, as always, I am merely sharing my own thoughts on this subject. You may agree, you may disagree. I always encourage discussion about these things. But I wanted to put something out there that might just help you understand the industry a little bit better and help you see what professional is right for you.
So, ready to dive in? Let’s go!
Hello everyone and welcome back to the podcast! I hope you’re doing well. So we’re going to be talking about coaching, counselling, and mentoring in today’s episode. And the reason I want to get into this is because I feel like, as a society, we’ve become much better able to recognise when we need support from a professional. And, of course, this is absolutely amazing, but there are so many different professionals out there, it’s quite tough to know which one is right for us! And there’s just very murky waters when it comes to coaching and counselling and mentoring. So I really want to shed some light on those waters and help you navigate that a little bit better.
So, I want to start by telling you about my weed analogy. And no, it’s not that kind of weed! I find this can be quite helpful, especially coming from somewhere- someone who talks about self worth a lot.
In this analogy, I feel like when we lose self worth, for whatever reason, if it’s chipped away, if we struggled to develop it, there’s a space. And in that space within us, weeds can grow. And when I say weeds, I mean things like mental health problems. And when this happens, we need counsellors to come and help us clear the weeds. So they are the professionals we need to either come and pull up those weeds completely and get rid of them, or contain them. So some mental health conditions you’ll live with forever, some kind of deep seated issues you will probably have for your whole life. But what counsellors can do is help you put them in a little corner, stick a pretty little fence around it, and help you manage it. So if they start to overgrow, they can help you cut them right back.
Now, where coaches come in, is when you’ve got that clear space. So counsellors can help you clear that space and then coaches can come and plant new seeds, things like self belief, confidence, help with your career, and they can help you grow and nurture a brand new garden and help you look after it in the time to come.
So that’s my analogy and I think that can be quite helpful to understand the difference between coaches and counsellors. But, if you’re still not sure, I have put together a few questions that might help you figure out what it is you need.
So the first question is: am I coping day-to-day? So, is your everyday routine, are you doing okay, are you really struggling with it? If you are struggling day-to-day, then that’s definitely an area to discuss with your counsellor. I think counsellors can help you get back to a base level where you’re coping and you’re handling the day-to-day.
The next question is: is my problem deep-seated and potentially related to past experiences? Now, there are some coaches that can probably help with this, but, in my experience, this is more in the counselling area. So if somethings’ related to a past experience, for example, a trauma that you’ve experienced, I definitely think counselling is the right way to go.
The next question is: do I need external accountability and support? Now, this is where coaches can really step up. So if you are looking for someone to help you with something, cheer you along, give you somebody to report back to if you need that accountability, coaches can help you with that.
And the last question I’ve got here is: do I need help achieving goals and making things happen? Again, this is where coaches thrive. Helping you with goals and making things happen, actioning stuff, yeah. That’s coach’s jams, that’s what we do!
And I do want to mention here quickly that I have written a Happiful article all about the differences between coaching and counselling and how you can figure out which one you need, so I’ll definitely make sure to add that to the shownotes.
Now I want to move onto the area of qualifications.
Ugh, this is such a murky, murky area! But what’s interesting is that, for this entire industry, so for counsellors and for coaches, there are currently no laws in place in the UK regarding counselling or coaching.
So this means the titles aren’t legally protected, so anyone essentially could call themselves a counsellor or a coach. However, there are guidelines in place for the counselling industry. These guidelines say that counsellors should have completed at least an appropriate diploma or completed a course that was a minimum of 400 hours therapy training. So if you are looking for a counsellor, those are definitely some minimums that I think you should look for. See if they’ve done a diploma or some kind of training that has 400 hours or more therapy training.
Now, for coaches, there are no guidelines whatsoever. Ugh, so this means a lot of people decide not to do qualifications and not to do training. And I’m not going to sit here and tell you whether or not that’s right or wrong – I think that is really really dependant and varied, but my personal thoughts on this is that, if you’re a coach and you’re working in a therapeutic capacity, so if you’re supporting people with quite deep stuff. So, for example, let’s take myself. I work in the area of self worth and self care. That’s some pretty heavy stuff and for me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that without any training. So I got myself an advanced certificate in life coaching and I feel that that has given me some of the training that I need to do the work, but I’m definitely up for doing more and I would want to do more.
Another area, when we’re talking about training, I want to touch on, is mental health training. So this is interesting because some coaches will have this and some won’t. So, for example, I have got mental health first aid training, which may mean that I’m a little bit better able to handle it if somebody comes to me as a client and they do also have a mental health condition. But the thing is, I’m not trained to help them with that specific issue.
So let’s say someone suffers from panic attacks. If they come to me and want me to help them with panic attacks, I can’t do that. I don’t have the training necessary to support them with that. However, if they want support with setting up a self care regime that’s going to help them, that I feel like I can do. And if they happen to have a panic attack on the phone with me, I feel like, because of my mental health first aid training, I’m a little bit better equipped to deal with that if it happens and I can maybe support someone in that way. But, as I said, I am in no way trained to help somebody with a mental health condition.
Right, now we’ve covered counselling and coaching and qualifications, I want to touch on this term mentors. So it’s a term that I keep seeing, I’ve been seeing used more and more, especially in recent years. And it’s often by people that are in the business or career sector who want to use their experience in it to help people in a really specific way. And often these people will use their years of experience as their kind of training ground, so they may not then go on to have coaching qualifications or anything like that. But instead, use the experience they have as maybe running their own businesses, or in their own jobs, somehow to help people with specific things.
And I think what’s really important here is whatever title someone gives themselves, whether they give themselves the title of mentor, coach, whatever, is to be really clear with people what it is you can offer them and what you can’t offer them. And I do feel like a lot of mentors that I see are very good at this – they are very clear in how they support people, what they can do, and what they can’t do. And this is so, so key.
Right, now we’ve covered that, now I want to talk a little bit about if you get to a point where you’ve decided whether or not you want a coach or a counsellor of a mentor, but you don’t know which one is right for you. So, maybe you’ve found five counsellors, for example, that seem really good. How do you know which one is right for you?
So my advice is to first of all talk to them, if you can. Maybe counsellors and coaches offer free consultation calls where you can speak to them, find out a bit more about how they work, and find out whether or not you think you’re going to gel with them. You can read up on them, if they have their own websites this is a really good place to start. If they’re on social media, give them a follow. See if you like the kind of stuff that they come out with. See if their values and their beliefs align with yours. Do you feel like this is someone you can trust? If they run a blog or if they offer some free resources, definitely check them out too because imagine if their free work is amazing – if the free stuff they’re giving out, if the quality of that is really good, just imagine what their paid-for stuff would be like.
And, finally, I will say, if you are concerned about qualifications and things like that, you can check to see. First of all, you’re 100% within your rights to ask them about that, ask what qualifications they have, make it clear for you. And, secondly, you can always check to see if they’re a member of a professional body. So, within counselling and coaching, there are professional bodies, which, if people want to join them, they have to be at a certain level in their career, they have to have had a certain amount of training. So you can check professional bodies’ websites, see what criteria they have, and then you might want to look for someone who is a member of that professional body.
That just gives you a little bit more peace of mind and often professional bodies will have a complaints procedure, which means that if anything goes wrong for whatever reason, if you want to make a complaint, there is a way for you to do that. And one last thing which I realised I haven’t mentioned yet, is insurance.
So this is really important if you are a coach, or if you’re a counsellor, having insurance is really, really helpful, not only for you, but also for your clients. So if you’re a client looking for a professional, qualifications and insurance are two things to definitely check, if you’re worried about that kind of thing.
Right, and before I wrap this up, i really want to make clear that if you have started sessions with a counsellor, a coach, a mentor, whatever, and you’re not happy with how it’s going, if you don’t feel like it’s going in the right direction, if you don’t think it’s working out, that you feel that you can trust them, if it’s not helping you, you are completely and utterly within your rights to stop sessions. So speak to them about this, if this comes up, if you feel like something’s not gelling, you might want to try and work it through with them, see if they can figure out another approach that would help you, or you might just want to say, look, this isn’t working out, I need to end this and start with somebody new.
Essentially, it’s breaking up with your therapist or coach, which I know can feel really tough and really hard to get your head around, but honestly finding somebody who really works for you – it makes such a difference and you’ll really know it when you experience it. When you start working with someone who gets you, who really understands you, it clicks and it just comes together.,
I won’t say that it’s always completely easy, and you might have sessions that are difficult, especially in counselling, you might come out of a session feeling a bit shit, but, the thing is, if week after week you’re not feeling better and you don’t’ feel like you’re making progress, then you have your right to speak to them and ask to stop sessions. And instead find someone who will help you progress!
And there we go! I really hope that’s been helpful. It’s definitely a bit of a jungle out there and I’m by no means an expert, but these are just some observations from someone who is in the industry and just what I’ve learned since being in the industry.
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on it. Please please please let me know whether or not you agree with me, whether or not you disagree and think I’m talking absolute shite. Definitely let me know! I’m always willing and open to learning. But yeah, hit me up over on Instagram, I’m @katbluejay, and yeah. I will be back with you next week for another episode!