As a coaching beginner - that I actually am - there are some questions circling around in my head sometimes: How do I identify the constraints or boundaries of coaching? I mean, where does coaching end and where does therapy start? How do I realize these situations in a coaching session and how do I react to that? These were indeed big topics during my coaching education, but unfortunately only in theory. For example, there is a difference between coaching and specialist advice, when you give suggestions and tips based on your own experience. Especially, when you, as the coach, know the topic as well as your client, or you work in the same company or industry. In any case, coaching ends when your client shows signs of pathological condition or behavior, like depression or suicidal tendencies. So how do I go practical on that in reality?
Individual skills are more important than the best diplomas
My current solution to that is that I am convinced that successful coaching is not about diplomas or the best education. It’s about individual skills and experience. So it’s basically working and learning for me right now. Because of that, I have my doubts about the strict separation of coaching and therapy. Of course, there are serious psychological illnesses for doctors and psychologists to look after but these are not the issues I’m focussing on in this blog. I would like to look at the cases of people who are trapped in some sort of life crisis and need help to fight their way back into their lives. Where does the work of a coach and a therapist differ in these cases?
First of all, it’s the coach’s responsibility to value the courage of the client for consulting a coach. So if his first action is to send the client away to consult a therapist just because he has a slight idea it might be a pathological problem, this could be the right move or the wrong one. Maybe the client has no energy or is afraid to go further and consult a “shrink”.
There are no strict boundaries between coaching and therapy
My intuition tells me that it is most important for the coach in this situations to have a realistic opinion about his personality and capabilities. In this case and from this position he might be able to help the client as well as the therapist. So there are no strict boundaries in my opinion. In reverse, this means that the client has to evaluate the coach’s abilities, personality and integrity and not the number of his diplomas.
What do you think? Let me know!