Today concludes our three-part series on counselors versus coaches. You already heard my thoughts about it , and last time we heard from counselor Steven Luff .
This time we’re talking with my friend Carl Thomas, who heads up our X3coach program, as well as being our outreach director, the site manager for XXXchurch.com, X3group director, and blog contributor to our site.
In other words, Carl knows what he’s doing. I asked him the same questions I asked Steven in our last part. Check it out:
Me: If one of your clients is obviously dealing with things beyond what they want to talk about, do you as a coach dig or pry into those areas or do you only talk about what they want to talk about?
Carl: It depends. Coaching is about goals, so I’m mostly focused on what we need to talk about as it pertains to THEIR goals. However, often in coaching as we analyze goals, we realize there are other things that need to be cleaned up which are stopping them from hitting those goals they set.
So yes, sometimes I dig to get to the thing that’s hindering them. And consequently, most of the time we end up adding to the original list of goals.
Me: As a coach, what is the balance between listening to your client and sharing your opinions or advice?
Carl: I’d say 50%-60% advice is a good average, but conversations can vary. There is definitely more direct input involved as a person’s coach because we are pushing them and giving them tips on how to reach their goals.
Me: Is your goal with a client for them to eventually stop seeing you?
Carl: My goal is that THEY reach THEIR goals. If that means ongoing conversations are going to help them, then we can continue coaching.
However, if we both feel like they have arrived at a healthy place in their life and they have established the needed systems to keep them there, then coaching can be discontinued.
Me: Do you ever worry that if you push your client too hard, they will stop seeing you altogether? And do you have advice as a coach that you should offer your client?
Carl: Not really, but I also have to gauge how hard I push based on where my clients are in their journey. They are paying me to coach them which means they are paying me for my advice trusting that I know what they need to reach their goals.
So, if they don’t follow my advice, I’m going to call them out on it and push them.
It’s very similar to fitness coaching. I’m not going to take a 50-year-old, 300-pound man who has never worked out in his life and throw him right into high-intensity interval group training and tell him he needs to keep up with the rest of the class … that could kill him. And if it doesn’t, it will definitely get him frustrated to the point where he might give up.
However, if I put him on a program geared for his fitness level and he consistently doesn’t do the work, then I’m going to call him out on it and push him. In fact, at some point, I may fire him myself.
Me: As a coach do you know when you client is manipulating you and is it in your best interest to point that out or just go along with it?
Carl: Usually I know when they are feeding me a line of BS, because I’ve been there and I know all the tricks. Often I will call them on it, but sometimes I won’t because I want to see how far they will go with their story.
It’s definitely a case-by-case situation, but eventually I will expose the elephant in the room because I don’t want to waste either of our times.
Me: What are qualities of a good counselor opposed to a bad counselor?
Carl: A good counselor listens far more than they talk. In fact, I’ve heard it said the best counselors talk the least. They don’t push because that could just hurt their client’s process.
A bad coach probably listens too much.
They don’t set goals that are realistic or attainable. They don’t correct their clients when it’s needed. They dive into areas that they may have little knowledge about. And in my opinion, a bad coach is someone who’s never done the work.
They don’t know what it takes because they’ve never done it themselves.
Me: In your opinion, what is the difference between a counselor and a coach?
Carl: The cost. (Just kidding.)
Counselors are trained professionals who usually have a clinical background. They understand the deeper emotional and psychological issues from an academic perspective. Counselors are more about listening and letting their clients discover the truth about things for themselves spurred on by expertly crafted questions and exercises.
Counselors are not the type of people who will “push” you or “drive” you to do something. They would rather ask. “Why do you think you don’t want to do this?”
A coach oftentimes speaks more from experience than academic training. Also, while a coach does a fair amount of listening, they also do a lot of talking.
Coaches aren’t there to “peel the onion” – they are there to help identify areas that need improvement, establish goals accordingly, and then offer the instruction necessary to help reach those goals. Coaches will push you. Ask a coach.
So there you go. Now you’ve heard from me, you’ve heard from a counselor, and you’ve heard from a coach. You know yourself – if you’re the kind of person who wants to go on the sort of interior journey that a counselor facilitates, then try to find a good one near you. If that’s not an option for you, check out My Pilgrimage as a sort-of self-guided series of counseling sessions that will help you discover more about yourself.
If a coach sounds good, you can ask around your social networks for one, or you can get a great (and affordable) one through us! Check out X3coach for more or to get started.
If you would like to learn more about the X3coach Program and how it can change the game for you check out this video. Find out why coaching may in fact be the relational resource you need. Talk to one of our coaches today!
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