(Image courtesy of IOMRH)

I recently completed training as a Health and Wellness Coach and would like to give you an overview of how coaching works. 

I’d also like to distinguish between coaching and counselling, as there are similarities but also differences. 

This blog post will give you a brief summary of how coaching works.

Differences between Counselling and Coaching

Counselling works with people who usually require a focus on mental health issues (although normal day to day issues may also need the help of a counsellor)and provides an ‘expert’ approach with a treatment plan, specific counselling interventions, and psychoeducation.

Coaching helps people to focus on any area of change in their lives including health, career, business, fitness, spirituality, and so on. A coach does not take on an ‘expert’ role as the client is seen as the expert of his/her life. If education, information, or advice is warranted, the coach will ask the client’s permission to provide this. A coach works with regular, day to day areas of change or issues, but not with mental health problems. A coach also believes that people have the potential to be resourceful and creative, and can design their wellness future.

How Does Coaching Work 

  1. A client is assessed, and a VISION (a statement about an area of sustainable change in the future) is created. This vision is related to your wellness, and the coach uses strategies to motivate the client and move them forward in a respectful way. A vision is about what you’d like, why you’d like it, what obstacles lie in the way, and how to overcome those obstacles. For example, ‘I’d like to have more energy in my life so I can be patient with others and be a good role model for my children.’ You will then discuss obstacles and strengths to assist with a plan or goals: ‘My greatest obstacle is my tendency to work long hours. By changing my hours at work and doing exercise, I can increase my energy levels. My strength is my commitment and determination to take action when I seek out change.’
  2. Taking Action is about turning your VISION into reality by setting goals. A coach starts off with setting three monthly goals in line with the VISION, as well as weekly goals that will lead you to those consistent behavioural goals in three months time. The three-monthly goals are new behaviours that you will do consistently in three months time to move you towards your vision. For example, ‘I will be exercising at the gym three times a week for thirty minutes in three months time.’
  3. The first week’s goals are planned, allowing you to work towards your three-monthly goal of consistent behaviour. For example, “I will call the gym on Monday at 12.00pm to make enquiries about joining the gym.’
  4. The coach will follow up with those first weekly goals, then create new goals for the following week. The coach identifies your obstacles, strengths, past successes, and looks at any modifications needed to the goals. You discuss any ambivalence or resistance about the goals so that goals are achievable and realistic. You may need to tweak the goals for the following week.

Coaching, like counselling, is about building a connection and relationship with a client. You establish a sense of safety, so the client feels comfortable sharing vulnerabilities and issues. It’s not easy opening up to a stranger, which is why you need to feel comfortable and safe within the session.

In conclusion, coaching and counselling are different in nature, but both approaches focus on building a rapport with the client. Coaching is more client-directed, and the coach creates a safe structure in which to provide that freedom for the client. The client is seen as the expert. When this is the case, you can create sustainable change as you are focusing on your deepest wants and needs that come from your deepest core.  Good luck!