As I am about to start welcoming my first intake of coaching clients I make it absolutely clear that I am not a therapist. That is, I do not have the medical knowledge, training, or correct skills for any kind of therapy work necessary for those with any kind of mental illness, disorder, or poor health.
Whilst coaches do operate in a kind of therapeutic space, it’s essential that we make it clear what we can and cannot do.
This is of the utmost important when we are working with people on such a personal level. It could be too easy to cross over into therapy, and real damage can be done with responsible coaches being careful and aware of their impacts.
You might be thinking, whoa! Elizabeth, this is all a bit intense. And you’d be right. People’s mental health is absolutely a serious matter, and one I take very seriously. I have no qualms about referring a client on if that is in their best interest. I am not about putting money before somebody’s health. There are some folk out there who might do so. But integrity is an important core value for me. I will not knowingly endanger or adversely affect any other human beings wellbeing.
And that’s what I’m here for after all. I care deeply that wellbeing should be accessible for all. That it is part of life all human beings should be able to prioritise in the best possible way for themselves.
My work, whether it is free content I share on my website, the podcast, or social media, or the services I offer through coaching, it is all grounded in the mission to help inspire and empower people to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
A key part of that, is to allow people to make informed decisions about how best to nourish their own wellbeing. That means, giving key information and advice at every stage of the journey with me.
And so, it is my responsibility to help position my work and offering in a way that does not mislead.
So what is the different between a therapist, a mentor, and coach?
A therapist can be a range of trained professionals who belong to a certified and governing body who work in a healthcare capacity. There are different types of therapists, from psychologists and psychiatrists, to psychotherapists, CBT practitioners, and counsellors.
You can be referred to a therapist via your GP or doctor. Or you can hire a therapist privately and pay their hourly rate.
Often people will go to a therapist for conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar distorder, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, trauma disorders, addiction, eating problems, dissociation, OCD, phobias, post-natal disorders, self-harm, stress, and suicidal feelings.
If you think you might have one of those problems or something similar I recommend calling your doctor as soon as you can. Or refer to the MIND website for further guidance and steps to take.
A mentor is usually somebody who is already working, achieving, and successful in the field you are working in. They offer support and guidance on how development within your industry. They can offer resources, informal advice, and guides. Mentors sometimes help with making connections with relevant industry people. A mentor can help with motivation and personal development. Often the relationship is longer term.
A coach is somebody you hire to help you on present and future focused challenges and ideas. Coaches help you with getting clarity on your personal and professional goals. They help with designing systems to help you live your best life. They guide you in a whichever area of expertise or niche they work in, whether that is communication, finance, health, productivity, or lifestyle. Coaches can help with strategic decisions, goal-setting, and action-based tips to move you forward. They motivate and inspire. The focus is on co-creation of strategy and ideas, but overall change is through self-development. Coaches are your cheerleaders, there on the sidelines to help with accountability and encouragement.
Coaching might feel therapeutic, but it is not therapy. It is essential that every client is aware of this.
It is possible you might need all of these people in your life at some point. In some cases you might need therapy before seeing a coach. Maybe you might start seeing both at the same time. Perhaps you are at a stage in your industry where a mentor can support you alongside your work with a coach.
However you decide to proceed. Enter these working relationships with a clear understanding of their functions, support, and potential outcomes.
The one thing that all of these roles have in common is that your willingness to engage in the process is the first step to make positive change.
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