To the Coach or to the psychologist?

I will answer this question from the “shoes” of the person who will complete a training in coaching (over a few weeks), but also of the person who called on both a coach and a psychologist, whenever he felt the need , at different stages of life. And in the VUCA environment (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) we live in, such support is really needed!

Let’s start with some definitions, then.

The members of the Romanian Association for Coaching regard the coaching approach as representing “assisting and guiding the client […] in manifesting their potential capacities, defining or clarifying specific objectives, identifying resources and bottlenecks, understanding their own perspectives and perceptions. , to understand the wider context in which they act, to trust their own strengths, to learn to look for and choose viable solutions, to elaborate action plans, to establish optimal ways to monitor their own results ”.

Wikipedia says that “psychology is the exact science of human mind and behavior, which deals with the study of mental functions and processes, of inner and subjective experiences (such as thoughts, emotions, consciousness, motivation, perception of others and personality).

As I see it, both psychology and coaching help cultivate healthy relationships, respectively, the relationship with ourselves and the relationship with others. Both approaches help us communicate better with ourselves and others, as – as Paul Watzlawick said in the five axioms of communication, doesn’t it? – it is impossible not to communicate.

Another similarity, in my opinion, is the creation of a safe, protective space that facilitates an honest and open conversation between the participants in a coaching session or a therapy session. Establishing a trusting relationship is vital in both cases.

If we are to talk about what distinguishes the two approaches, I like to start by quoting from a source (unknown author) who says that “a psychologist is like an archaeologist, while a coach is like an architect”.

Temporarily speaking, although both may refer to past situations (for example, childhood events), coaching focuses on the future, starting from the present and assisting the client in identifying the ways of action to reach that “future”. favorite”. Psychotherapy focuses particularly on the past and on the analysis of emotions, in a passive-reflexive manner, starting from causal questions – WHY – (for example, “What is the problem?” And “How did it make you feel? “), Then seeking to” remove “and treat pain, as it regards clients as patients.

Referring to the more general concept of “therapy”, David Spiegel says: “Therapy can be considered an interpersonal laboratory, working with cognition, emotion and interpersonal relationships in a way that helps you manage your emotions and learn to see things from a different perspective. “

In the coaching process, clients are invited, through modal questions – HOW – (for example, “What is possible?” And “Where would you like to go?”), To discover their own answers and to go to action, to reach the future that I define as a favorite. The strengths, plus the resources that the client has and which can be used as a development ramp are highlighted in the foreground.

In the book The Art of the Question, Marilee Goldberg expresses in a very expressive way that: “A well thought out question has an impact on the way of thinking and behavior that goes on after the question has been addressed.”

Another difference between coaching and psychotherapy refers to the period allocated to one approach or the other. Usually, in the case of coaching, we are talking about a relatively short interval, which the client chooses; there are situations that can be solved even after a single coaching session (in case it is a thing that I dare to classify as simple). If we refer to therapy, a client or patient usually seeks support for a longer period (one year or more, depending on the complexity of the situation).

Now, with my eyes on my colleagues in coaching, I want to emphasize that it is extremely important, even vital, that – when we realize that a client (we work with) needs a psychologist – we suggest that , without trying to wear the “hat” of that specialist, if we do not have the proper training!

I choose to end by going back to David Siegel (associate professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University), who said in an interview with The Huffington Post that anyone should be open to seeking guidance from specialists at the time. when it comes to emotional health.

“We are fundamentally social creatures, so talking to people can be a real source of support and help. But it won’t happen unless you try. “



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