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Coaching or Psychology? Who decides?

August 1, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,Wellness — admin @ 7:38 pm

I recently had a call from a new client who told me he was already seeing a psychologist, but thought that having a coach would ’round out’ the work that he needed to do.

To be honest most clients don’t understand the difference – and neither do many coaches. If fact there is an ongoing debate about where coaching falls in the psychology continuum.

For many psychologists, coaching is just another form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) a branch of psychology which attempts to train people to make changes to patterns and lifestyles which impact their psychosis.

The difference is not so much the technique but rather the starting point of the client. Does he or she just need some help to see a new perspective or is there really an underlying clinical issue which needs to be addressed.

Many coaches work closely with psychologists so they can refer clients if they find issues which fall out of their area of expertise. In my case, my wife is a psychologist, who has also gone through training as a coach, and is a valuable resource.

Psychologists who are also coaches can often administer objective assessments if they feel there’s an underlying psychological issue.

Coaches, from non-psychological backgrounds, are not qualified to interpret test results, but they should have the training to recognize when there is a potential problem.

This is true in any situation but can be particularly significant in management coaching when a company is paying a coach to help an employee. Failure to recognize the difference between a management style that needs to be changed and a psychosis that needs to be address can lead to significant liability issues.

Most coaching clients are healthy well-adjusted individuals who just need a little help with specific issues but it’s up to the coach to make sure their potential client gets the help they need.

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