After 35 years of individual, couple, and family counseling, I’m expanding my toolbox of people-helping through professional coaching. In some ways, the two fields are similar. The goals of both professions include serving people and helping them be all they can be.
But there is one important distinction. Counseling is often directive, but coaching is not. Coaches refrain from advice-giving. They explore issues deeply and widely—and ask probing questions. These queries might explore the past, the future, patterns, and values. What led up to this? Where is this going?” patterns “Have you ever been in a place like this before?” or values “How do personal values influence this?”
There is good reason to refrain from advice-giving. Author and professional coach Tony Stoltzfus writes “Generating options by asking the client to think instead of offering advice or solutions is one of the most important coaching skills. . . Your job is to push them to think things through farther than ever before, not to do the thinking for them.” When they come up with the options, they are much more motivated to follow through with action.
I’ve experienced the potency of non-directive coaching myself. When my coach refuses to offer advice but instead asks questions that broaden my awareness, it is startling how often I experience “aha” moments. When these moments are followed by identifying action steps, obstacles, and accountability, I am energized to act.
If I can be helpful to you, please be in touch. You will find more information on my website at www.stevepswartzcoaching