The above question can be of great confusion for the person seeking the services of someone who can increase their life effectiveness. It is a significant question that is often asked by the people. The simple answer may be one or all of the above, although it is usually not recommend seeking these services all at one time. Over the last decade (Australian Institute of Family Studies 2008), there has been an increase in the number of people who are seeking guidance services and knowing ‘who to turn to when’ can be confusing for both clients and professionals. To make this process easier, it can be helpful to have a good working understanding of the similarities and differences, as well as knowing when to refer someone to another service.
Coaching is generally a structured one to one process which is time limited, and whereby an individual wants to enhance their performance/skills and seeks this through an experienced coach in the area requiring improvement (i.e. leadership, technical, behavioural).
Life coaching is similar to Coaching with a broader view of the person’s life which covers managing life change, personal success and tends to be solution focused. Life coaching can also be a longer term arrangement.
Mentoring is the relationship between a more senior and junior person within industry/profession/faith. Mentoring is less structured than coaching and is typically a longer term relationship with a broader focus of career and potentially personal areas. Mentoring looks at providing an ongoing focused guidance and support for the mentee.
Counselling is typically a longer term engagement and focuses on the person as a whole rather than just specific aspect of life or performance. Counselling looks at the psychological dimensions and has a focus on helping people identify root cause with the aim of dealing with the issue or helping the person with coping strategies. Counsellors/Psychologists are specifically trained at university level in therapeutic skills and belong to professional peak, to which they are accountable.
Short term relationship
short to long term relationship
Longer tern relationship
Longer tern relationship
Focused enanched performance/skills
Life focused. Personal success, life change
Focus of career and potentially personal
Psychological dimension focus on root causes
Experienced coach in particular skill
Ongoing support & guidance
Observation of psychological & medical conditions
Experience coach in help people relalized their goals
Senior (experienced) & junior relationship for industry, profession or faith
Five Core Characteristics
There are five core characteristics or skills for Coaches, Mentors and Counsellors to follow.
Skills for Coaches, Mentors and Counsellors
1) Listening skills
The art of listening can be a really difficult skill to acquire, however is essential across all the services. The ability to truly listen to the person without interference, mind wondering or listening with self-interests in mind, is the art of listening. The art of listening enables the ability to reframe statements to improve the person’s understanding and learning and is an essential component for Coaches, Mentors and Counsellors.
2) Powerful questions
The ability to ask powerful questions at the right time in the right way is a core skill required. It is through these powerful questions that we get to dig deeper in our understanding of the person, their own understanding of themselves and their needs in a meaningful way.
3) Building Trusting Relationships
One of the core skills for Mentors, Coaches and Counsellors is the ability to build authentic trusting relationships with the person. That is an ability to create a strong foundation incorporating openness, honesty and respect. To build trusting relationships which are effective often requires two-way sharing.
The combination of listening skills, asking powerful questions to promote own learning and building effective trusting relationships all with a focus of helping people move from current state towards their own defined goal, is facilitation. In this process; Mentors, Coaches and Counsellors will need to demonstrate skills in flexibility, patience, observing and respectfully challenging as required.
5) Change Agent
Our Brain wants to minimise any stresses and it looks for ways to make things less painful, therefore it likes to resist and avoid change (Rock & Donde). Through both following Steps 1-4 and becoming accustomed to the ‘Stages of Change’ model (Prochaska, Redding, Evers); Mentors, Coaches and Counsellors are able to take on the role as Change Agents and help people follow a process towards effective change. The vast majority of people are unable to go directly to Action and they will need to follow a process whereby they develop strategies and solutions in small steps towards action. “Change is a process, not an event” (Kurt Lewin).
When to refer to another service
Understanding the differences is crucial in order for Mentors, Coaches and Counsellors to be able to identify when the person may need to be referred on to another service area. This is especially important when it comes to identifying when someone needs to seek counseling. Early identification of the need for referral is in the best interests of the person and their ongoing development. This does not mean that people cannot be seeing a counsellor and mentor at the same time. There may actually be significant benefits achieved for the individual when two services are simultaneously sought. However, when an issue emerges that is beyond the ‘here and now’ or the professional competence of the helper it is wise to refer a client on.