When I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, seeing a therapist or a pastor were the two primary ways we could get guidance on handling life’s hardships. In current times, this thing called coaching is now on the scene, providing yet another option to choose from. Pretty cool! Yet, often misunderstood in its newness.
Because the formalization of coaching is only a few decades old, it is considered still in its infancy compared to psychoanalysis, which dates back to the 1930's with the work of Sigmund Freud, et al. According to Dr. Kimberly Key, in her article “How the Evolution of Psychology Gave Birth to Counseling”, Willhelm Wundt opened the first psychology lab in 1879, using introspection. She goes on to say, “Psychology has generally been defined as treating mental illness and counseling psychology was born to address mental health issues.”
But, what if we still want help in life, help reaching a new potential, help understanding our relationship to our life, but we don’t need therapy or aren’t struggling with a mental illness? Then what? That is where coaching steps in. Coaching is here because there was a missing piece to psychology. This is full self-actualization of the human. If psychology models were based on what is wrong and helping people get healing and help, then coaching helps us focus on what is right, our gifts and strengths and building an amazing and masterful relationship to one’s life by self-actualizing. Counseling helps clear the weeds, coaching helps plant new seeds. Both have their place according to the need of the individual.
In essence, counseling, aka therapy, is perfect if you need emotional healing, or facing issues that have become bigger than you can emotionally handle.
Coaching is perfect when you have come to edge of all you know and are ready to reach an entirely new level in your life. In other words, when you are ready to self-actualize.