Therapy, Coaching, Counselling. What Do They All Mean?

Claire Vane
January 10, 2017

I noticed recently that the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are finding a professional route for practitioners who want to integrate coaching and therapy.

This will mean that therapeutic coaching is recognised as a distinct area of practice and takes a place alongside counselling and psychotherapy. These regulatory bodies and associations have a very important part to play in making sure that patients/clients are dealt with in a safe way, but it set me thinking rather more widely about the growth of coaching over the last decade or so, and I think it’s worth taking a step back to understand exactly what is going on in the market place.

Let's define our terms

It is so often that individuals meet somebody and because of that meeting, often accidental, they are steered in a certain direction. So many people seem to do coaching these days, but it may not be always the appropriate kind of intervention. If we imagine a spectrum with psychoanalysis at one end on the left and training at the other end on the right, we would move along the spectrum from psychoanalysis, to psychotherapy, to counselling, to coaching, to mentoring, before we reach training.

Psychotherapy isn't a dirty word

It seems to me that even professionals use coaching and mentoring in the same breath and that some people see coaching as a more acceptable route to solve problems that, perhaps in some cases, are more appropriately dealt with through the route of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. It is undoubtedly worth taking a step back, and for the individual buyer to ask what it is exactly he or she wants to achieve.

A spectrum of intervention

To embark on a psychoanalytical route is a big commitment and often requires an individual to have a big question about themselves that drives them to the psychoanalytical process, whereas those interventions further along the right of the line are far more prescriptive; as one moves on the spectrum described above, from the left to the right, the level of prescriptive intervention increases.

Training is set up to impart a certain skill and indeed the training has failed unless that particular skill is enhanced by the intervention. There is much more blurring in people’s minds about coaching and mentoring and they are not the same thing. Coaching is a facilitative intervention to help an individual work out where they want to get and help them to get there, whereas mentoring requires the mentor to have technical and professional knowledge of the very area in which they are mentoring the individual.

I am delighted that the BACP is giving coaching the place it deserves, but it’s worth taking a step back when buying interventions to decide upon your desired outcome, and the best way to get there in terms of an intervention.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above intervention strategies with the team at Integrated Resources, please do get in touch.

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Claire Vane

Claire is the Managing Director and Founder of Integrated Resources. She is passionate about releasing potential in individuals and organisations.

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