It can sometimes be confusing to distinguish between interventions such as coaching, mentoring, consulting and counselling.
These interventions are similar in some ways as they all involve building a professional relationship between the practitioner and the client. This relationship should be based on mutual respect and trust and forms the basis for confidential conversations, with the aim to achieve a specific result.
Coaching focuses on helping individuals identify what it is that they want to achieve and how to achieve it.
Counselling is about understanding your past and present situation and self acceptance.
Mentoring focuses on the mentor sharing their own experience, knowledge and skills with others, helping them advance and make progress in their own life.
Consulting involves providing expert advise a specific topic in order for the client to obtain a specific result.
In all instances, the practitioners need to develop certain skills to provide a professional and valuable service such as: building rapport, active listening, verbal and non verbal communication, an honest and trust worthy work ethic.
Equally, there are also ways in which these interventions differ from one another, some of these differences are:
In Counselling the focus is on past events and experiences and how these effect the client’s current behaviour and emotional well being.
In Mentoring the focus is on teaching by passing on knowledge, skills and experience from the Mentor to the Mentee.
In Consulting the focus is on the Consultant providing advice and guidance which will allow the client to achieve a specific desired result.
In Coaching the focus is on the future. The Coach will aim to unlock the client’s potential by using questions which increase the client’s awareness and encourage the client to take action to achieve their desired outcome.
In Mentoring and Consulting, the practitioner will provide advice and guidance to the client based on personal knowledge and expertise. On the other hand, in Counselling and more so in Coaching, the aim is to elicit results by empowering the client to reflect, make their own decisions and find their own solutions. Unlike the other interventions, Coaching follows the principle that the client is the expert of their own life and that they are therefore the best person to identify the most successful strategy to move forward.
In coaching, the Agenda for each session is set by the client. Although the Coach will provide the structure and will help the client navigate the process, the client decides the content for the discussion. In Mentoring and Consulting, the practitioner will decide what topics to cover and will set a specific schedule to follow as part of the agreed program.
There are additional difference between these interventions which make each practice the most appropriate option depending on an individual’s requirements. Someone who wanted to learn how to increase sales may be best placed working with a sales consultant, someone who wanted to understand a childhood trauma should seek the assistance of a counsellor, an entrepreneur wanting to tap into someone’s expertise would be likely to find value in working with a mentor and someone wanting to get clear on their direction and achieve their goals in the fastest most effective way, would make a great client for a Coach.
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