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Coaching, Consulting, Counseling, Psychotherapy & Psychiatry
A Comparison Martyn Carruthers

Coaching with Martyn

Systemic coaching does not replace classical coaching, consulting, counseling, psychotherapy or psychiatry. Each is useful for different objectives and different problems. Systemic coaching is useful when making relationship decisions in complex environments and ambiguous objectives.

Do you want results?

If something bothers you, you seek solutions. If the problems persist - you may seek help. If your problem is mental or emotional, then you may talk to friends and family, and, if that fails, you seek a specialist. But which one? See Evolution of Coaching Styles.

You make some telephone calls and describe your situation. You find out who is experienced in your issue and what they charge. You want to know long it will take to solve your problem, which depends on your goals, motivation and the helping professional's skill. You feel in control - you feel that you can stop at any time. So you make an appointment ...

Coaching, Consulting, Counseling, Therapy & Psychiatry

It is hard to differentiate between helping styles. Most helping professionals claim they can help you:

  • learn or acquire life skills
  • become happier and more productive
  • better function within your family, community or culture
  • experience personal growth / develop your human potential

Coaching, consulting, counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatry are about attitudes, feelings, interests, goals, self esteem and behaviors. If your problem appears solvable, all may offer you solutions, although some solutions have consequences which may be worse than the problems. The following general descriptions may help your comparison:

Coach Coaching is about helping you achieve your goals using systemic coaching, accelerated learning, etc to dissolve emotional and relationship blocks to your success. Coaching began as a way to accelerate skill acquisition in sports and then business. It has become a methodology of human development and change.
Consultant Consulting is about helping you with specific expertise such as financial, legal or medical advice. Consulting is often associated with corporate and organizational goals. A consultant is often a specialist in specific technical, financial, legal or medical specialties.

According to the Committee on Definition of the American Psychological Association; the objectives of counseling are to "help individuals toward overcoming obstacles to their personal growth, wherever these may be encountered, and toward achieving optimum development of their personal resources". Specialties include pre-marital, marriage, post-abortion and family counseling.

Therapist Psychotherapy is about changing personality and coping with strong emotions. This includes individual therapy and systemic family therapy. A psychotherapist may help you re-arrange your personality and integrate insights into your behavior, to control unpleasant emotions and behaviors associated with neurosis and emotional problems.
Psychiatrist Psychiatry is about controlling emotions and inappropriate behavior, often using drugs such as stimulants and anti-depressants. Although psychiatry is medicine, a psychiatric diagnosis is usually an opinion that cannot be verified in a laboratory. A psychiatrist can prescribe drugs to help control unpleasant emotions and behavior.

Comparison of Helping Styles

Treatment time differs between coaching, consulting, counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatry. Systemic coaching is often measured in hours and classic coaching in days. Consulting often follows a contract of a few weeks. Counseling sessions are often over months. Psychotherapy sessions may last for years. Psychiatry treatment and medication can continue for decades.

Professionals offer different focus. A coach asks "What do you want?" A consultant asks "What is the problem?" A counselor examines "What is happening now?". A therapist enquires "What happened in your past?". A psychiatrist may ponder "What drugs might manage or mask your emotions?"

Goals are what you want, although few people can specify them. A systemic coach may help you dissolve conflicts that prevent you defining your goals. A consultant may help you solve specific problems. Counselors may help you solve a life crisis and psychotherapists can help you with emotional and personality problems. A psychiatrist may not ask what you want and consider psychopharmacology - what drugs can manage what emotions.

A coach accepts your objections, and uses your resistance to help you fine-tune a goal until you are certain you want it. Counselors may regard your resistance as a nuisance and try to reduce it. A consultant may offer logical arguments to counter your objections. Psychotherapists often try to understand your resistance, to help your change your personality. Psychiatrists may rely on their authority and ignore your objections or enforce a medication.

Transference is mistaken identity - confusing one person with another. Although called positive and negative, depending on the emotions it elicits, transference distorts relationships. Counselors often want a personal relationship with clients, yet may perceive transference as a manifestation of immaturity. Psychotherapists may use transference to gain authority. Our telephone coaching offers simple ways to quickly dissolve transference and transference loops.

The methods used in coaching, consulting, counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatry overlap. Coaches, counselors and therapists are often more eclectic than consultants or psychiatrists. The following table offers a simplified comparison of coaching with other helping styles.

  Time Focus Goals Objections Transference Resources
Psychiatrist Decades Biochemical homeostasis Provide mental homeostasis Overcome with authority Use to increase authority Medication
Therapist Years Family of origin Reorganize personality Research causes Utilize Analysis
Counselor Months Reality of life demands Cope with life problems Avoid & minimize Minimize Life Skills
Consultant Weeks Complex problems Solve problems Logical argument Ignore Training & Experience
Classic Coach Weeks Simple problems Success Dissociate & ignore Ignore Coach training
Systemic Coach Days Sense of life Emotional Maturity Accept & dissolve Dissolve Systemic Coach Training & Expert Modeling

Do you want relationship coaching or systemic coach training?
Do you want to coach people to resolve relationship challenges?

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2003-2010 All rights reserved.

If you find our work useful, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
please mention or

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Solve Emotional & Relationship Issues

Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you want? Know your life goals and how you sabotage yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Develop your inner resources with Dreamwork
Do emotions block you? Resolve relationship problems and mentor damage
Do beliefs limit you? Change your limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity loss to recover your lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents can better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and top teams can develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling, therapy & training

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2016 All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers
to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work.