Tag Archives: Counseling

Counseling or Coaching? Which Is Best For You?


Although there are a lot of similarities between counseling and coaching, there are also some distinctions that are important to understand as you seek a counselor or coach.

  • Counseling helps you move through the pain, struggles, or challenges of the past.
  • Coaching is about results – moving forward with growth – realizing your dreams.

Sometimes we are needing both – it requires healing the past to be able to move forward with our goals. Pastor and author Peter Scazerro in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says that it is impossible to become spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. His advice is that we must go backwards and deal with our past before we can effectively move forward with maturity. For some that might be a priority.

But for others who have already taken an introspective journey, strategizing for the future might be their greatest need. In this case some different tools are required to achieve goals. What’s desired may be defining a clear direction, breaking it down into manageable action steps, and having accountability to follow through with the steps. This is the realm of coaching.

Just like there are general counselors and specialty counselors, there are a diversity of coaches. Do you need a life coach, a business coach, a spiritual coach, a parent coach or some other more specific help? Most coaches can help in a variety of ways without having detailed specifics of a particular field. They can ask great questions and get you thinking on a particular track. But sometimes the assistance you need is very specific. In those cases finding just the right person is invaluable. Have they walked the road you want to walk? Have they been successful?

Coach or Counselor?

Can a counselor also be a coach and a coach be a counselor? Well, yes and no. A counselor can certainly function as a coach, especially if they know that is your primary goal. But a coach is generally restricted to dealing with the present and future. It would not be helpful to assume that they are interchangeable roles. The training for each is different and counselors are often licensed whereas coaches may have various levels of preparation and certification – or not.

Whereas most counseling takes place in person or by video, coaching may not require that kind of connection. Much of some kinds of coaching can be done over the telephone or email. That’s because reading body language and making emotional connections is usually less critical. Coaching requires doing assigned homework and reporting back results. Sessions may not to be as long, but perhaps more frequent.

What may be the most important factor in choosing someone is the person themselves. Do you trust their character as well as their knowledge? Can you be honest with them? Whether being coached or counseled, can you walk with them confidently for a season?

Do You Have Superpowers?

I Used to Have Superpowers

There are certain behaviors in relationships that are easily identified as the most destructive. They are known to most of us: poorly controlled anger that becomes rageful, withdrawal that turns into emotional cutoff and unaddressed addictions that control the person and therefore harm the relationship. These behaviors often flow from dealing with the most volatile issues that couples face such as money, sex, parenting and others.

But those are just the most obvious, in-your-face destroyers. There are also more subtle, but equally harmful ones. There is one that really sticks out to me.

Like the dripping of water on a rock that eventually erodes it away, nagging, criticizing, complaining, and correcting eventually erodes a relationship. Yes, it is slower, but it can be just as painful in the long run.

I remember working with a couple whose relationship was headed down the tubes. Outwardly there was nothing dramatic happening, but the couple seemed to be profoundly unhappy. After listening to their stories I turned to the wife and confronted her:

“You need to stop FAA – Fixing, Analyzing and Advising.”

She looked at me and declared: “But those are my superpowers. If you take them away I’ll have nothing left!”

I agreed with her that they were indeed super powerful – but it was the power to destroy, not to create. I could see the husband relax. I think he finally felt understood. Of course I could have told her to stop nagging, criticizing, complaining and correcting, but I think she got the message.

During the sessions I noticed that she got quite upset when her husband did not agree with her. So I helped both of them to express their feelings better, without blaming or shaming. And we worked on not holding an expectation that their partner had to agree with them or face their wrath or withdrawal. In time she learned that she had a lot of power left. Her husband responded very well to kind words and encouragement and so did her kids. We talked about how the Fruits of the Spirit are the real superpowers as outlined in Galatians chapter 5 in the Bible starting with verse 22:

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit (power) in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

If you want to know what not to do, read beginning with verse 16.

By the way, the genders could have just as easily been reversed in the above scenario – husbands often have those destructive superpowers as well.

Could You Benefit From Medication?


Prescription Medicine
Prescription Medicine

I wonder how many marriages have kept from blowing apart due the miracle of modern psychotropic medications. I also wonder how many people have been able to stay out of inpatient facilities because they have been stabilized by good diagnoses and treatment with therapy and medications.

Earlier in the last century none of these interventions were available and choices were limited to some very basic and sometimes harsh methods. Or untreated, a lot of people suffered and the people around them suffered as well.

But that is not the case today. Although some people would claim that medications are over-prescribed, especially for children, the truth is that there are many who would benefit from them, at least for a season. Depression and anxiety are rampant within our complex and stressful lives.

Perhaps because of the illegal drug culture or because of sensational news reporting which has maligned legitimate psychotropic medications, there is still reluctance by some people to embrace these drugs when they would clearly be of benefit. At the core of this reluctance there may be fear or shame, especially for those who have been raised in a very conservative church environment. Fortunately attitudes in most churches have been changing as they see how this mind-set has been victimizing the wounded in their midst.

I am delighted to report that in the many years that Nan and I have been counseling we have seen very few adverse reactions, mostly just some temporary side effects. I believe this high success rate has been due in great measure to our clients getting evaluated and treated by highly competent medical professionals. They do their best to stay on top of their clients’ progress and make changes when necessary to optimize the treatment.

The most likely failure of treatment comes when a client makes decisions on their own without input from their doctors. Too common is the client who decides to discontinue medication because they are “feeling better” or “don’t like the way it feels”. Also, some are inconsistent with their doses and becomes erratic in their behavior and claim that it isn’t working. There can be some very negative outcomes when medications are discontinued improperly. Your psychiatrist/doctor is your friend and advocate – it’s important to stay connected to him or her.

Of course it is essential to give a full disclosure to your doctor and counselor of anything that you are taking, including alcohol, over-the-counter medications, prescribed medications, self administered herbs and supplements or illegal drugs. It is possible that there could be complications or negative interactions from the wrong mix.

If you are in doubt about whether medications are appropriate for you or someone you care about, we suggest you keep an open mind, investigate well, and remember that the decision is always yours.