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Common Questions

How can Counselling help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in counselling. Counsellor can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counsellors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life.

Counsellors can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from counselling include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek counselling
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behaviour patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family / marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need counselling? I can usually handle my problems?

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, such counselling is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking counselling. Counselling provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to counselling and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Counselling can help provide some much-needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods.  Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.   In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

What is counselling like?

Because each person has different issues and goals for counselling, counselling will be different depending on the individual.  In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous counselling session.  Depending on your specific needs, counselling can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development.  Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your counsellor.

It is important to understand that you will get more results from counselling if you actively participate in the process.  The ultimate purpose of counselling is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life.  Therefore, beyond the work you do in counselling sessions, your counsellor may suggest some things you can do outside of counselling to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviours or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, counselling addresses the cause of our distress and the behaviour patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.  Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and counselling is the right course of action.

Does what we talk about in counselling remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful counselling requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the counsellor’s office.   Every counsellor should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.  This is called “Informed Consent”.  Sometimes, however, you may want your counsellor to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (you’re your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your counsellor cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require counsellors to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

  • Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
  • If the counsellor has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.

Life Coach vs. Therapist

One of the most common misconceptions about life coaching is that it is therapy in disguise — or, worse yet, therapy from an unlicensed practitioner. In reality, life coaching is truly its own unique service designed to help ambitious achievers meet the outcomes that will bring them success and fulfilment. Here are some of the differences between life coaching and therapy, and a basic guide for when each service is appropriate.

DEFINING TERMS

Therapy, also called counseling or psychotherapy, is a long-term process in which a client works with a healthcare professional to diagnose and resolve problematic beliefs, behaviors, relationship issues, feelings and sometimes physical responses. The idea behind therapy is to focus on past traumas and issues to change self-destructive habits, repair and improve relationships and work through painful feelings. In this sense, therapy focuses on the past and on introspection and analysis.

The difference between a life coach and therapist is that a life coach sets clients up with a process that may be long or short-term, instead of regular sessions. In life coaching, a client works with a coach, who is not a healthcare professional, in order to clarify goals and identify obstacles and problematic behaviors in order to create action plans to achieve desired results. The process of life coaching takes the client’s current starting point as an acceptable neutral ground and is more action-based from that point onward.

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LIFE COACHES AND THERAPISTS

The fundamentals of life coaching are what distinguish it from therapy. Life coaches do not diagnose, while therapists determine illnesses and pathologies so they can be clinically treated. Therapists analyze their client’s past as a tool for understanding present behaviors, whereas life coaches simply identify and describe current problematic behaviors so the client can work to modify them. In other words, therapists focus on “why” certain behavioral patterns occurs, and coaches work on “how” to work toward a goal.

When you look at a life coach vs. a therapist’s practice, it’s important to know that therapists help clients explore and understand their subconscious and unconscious mind. Their goal in this exploration is deep understanding. Life coaches focus on results and actions. Their goals can be measured with key performance indicators and specific behavioral outcomes and goals.

Therapy and life coaching do share certain traits and aims. However, whether you choose to work with a life coach or therapist, both work to enable clients to make positive changes in their lives and become more productive. While therapists diagnose and treat from a healthcare perspective, not all therapy clients are ill; many healthy people seek the services of both therapists and life coaches. Therapists may at times work with specific results in mind, such as the cessation of a particular problematic behavior.

Despite occasional areas of overlap, the work and processes of therapists and life coaches are distinct.

Should I Seek out a Therapist or a Life Coach?

Naturally, the decision to seek out a therapist or a life coach is a very personal one. It might help to imagine yourself getting ready to climb a mountain. You could either hire an expert sherpa and guide for your expedition or a doctor. Which should you choose?

If you are physically unwell, or would be in danger if you even attempted the climb, a sherpa and guide wouldn’t do you any good. You need to be at a baseline level of good health before you can make the climb at all, so if you’re not, you might need to see the doctor before trying something that challenging. However, if you’re healthy and just need someone to help you with climbing strategy, carrying the load of supplies and finding the best path, the sherpa and guide is the best bet.

In this example, the therapist is the doctor. He or she gets you well enough to take on major challenges in your life by exploring your mental and emotional well-being. The life coach is the sherpa and guide. He or she has an expert knowledge of your climb and can help you reach the summit.

A life coach would be able to offer guidance by:

  • Clarifying and achieving personal and professional goals
  • Creating business plans
  • Working to improve communication skills
  • Achieving financial independence and security
  • Achieving a work/life balance
  • Starting a new business or growing a current business

A therapist, on the other hand, focuses their conversation on ways to:

  • Recover from past traumas
  • Explore why past relationships (business or personal) have been destructive
  • Work through depression or anxiety that affect your ability to function at home or work
  • Survive a divorce or loss of a loved one

Although life coaches and therapists occasionally help clients with similar problems, their work is not the same. In order to get the right kind of professional expertise, it is crucial to know which kind of guidance will serve you best. Life coaching isn’t simply a watered-down version of therapy. It is a dynamic discipline designed to help motivate and inspire people to achieve more than they believe is possible.