Coaching is a methodology that draws on other professions while still remaining distinct. It draws on psychology, mentoring management theory, adult learning, and business consulting. Coaching remains unique, however, and there are major differences between coaching and these fields.
Coaching and Therapy
Coaching is not psychology, therapy, or counseling. In coaching, we consider that the clients know best what works for them. They are not broken and do not need to be fixed. They have all the resources they need to succeed within them. Their success is in their hands and all they have to do is change their ways and discover what empowers them and motivates them to take action. Coaching, therefore, deals with functional people and is future oriented taking clients to exceptional levels of growth. Therapy often deals with dysfunctional people and is more about healing wounds and resolving past issues; thus, taking clients to more emotionally healthy levels.
Coaching and Consulting
Coaching is not consulting. A consultant is a specialist in a specific area who gives recommendations and solutions to particular problems. A consultant usually is not involved in areas outside their specialty; rather has expertise in specific areas and provide advice, information and anecdotes about these areas. A coach uses a more holistic approach examining a specific situation, creating a plan of action, and working side by side with the client to resolve it. A coach does not act as the expert, but maintains the belief that the client knows best; thus, uses the client’s knowledge and resources to find solutions.
Coaching and Mentoring or Training
A mentor is usually older, wiser, and is more experienced than the person being mentored. The mentee seeks advice, knowledge and wisdom from the mentor. Training, similarly, involves teaching skills or a set of behaviors. Similar to consulting, mentoring and training involve passing on a set of specific experiences to the client. A coaching relationship is more like a partnership whereby coach and client walk side by side. The coach supports the client in drawing on their own inner wisdom and following their own guidance. Training and Mentoring can be used as part of coaching as long as the knowledge shared is held lightly and without attachment so the coach does not delve into "advice giving". The client gets the information or facts they need to accelerate their progress and are left to make their own decision on the best path to take – perhaps with good coaching. When the coach is training or mentoring s/he assumes a different role than the coach and needs to clarify this to the client.