Coaching? Mentoring? Or therapy?

“How do you know whether coaching is the right thing for you? 

And how do you find the right coach for you?”

Two really great questions posed after a recent keynote.

So I thought I would offer my thoughts on the subject today in the blog. Ways for you to know what you need next e.g. counselling, therapy, mentoring or coaching. And once you have made that decision, finding the right person for you.

What do you need?

Have you been through a trauma or have past issues that you want help resolving? Or maybe there are addictive behaviours you want help changing or something unsettling is currently happening in your life? If this sounds like you then my guess would be some form of therapy would be the best way forward.

The most traditionally known routes are counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural therapy) both of which I believe you can be referred from your GP for in the UK. Although there may be a waiting list. And potentially less chance of you ‘choosing’ your therapist.

Of course you can go private and these two modalities may not be the right therapy for you. The best way of finding a therapy and therapist in your area is by asking around. More people than you may realise have been to a therapist of some kind. And when you have a few names, check them out online and book a call with them to chat through your needs. Just because someone is trained in a profession does not mean that we have to work with them. ‘Interview’ them – I recommend this to find a therapist, mentor or coach – ask them questions and see if you feel connected and comfortable with them.  If not, then move on.

The caveat with this is to interview no more than 3. Often we can be tricked by our thinking that  those people are not the right ones for us, so we keep looking. When in actual fact we are using the search to avoid facing what we need to work through. So shortlist your interviews to 3 and pick on from there.

There are also numerous charities that offer a variety of support, and often have their own therapists. To find the charities you can also ask around or use this amazing free app which will search locally to you. They also have a ‘talk now’ button which links direct to the Samaritans, or if you prefer, you can text.

If you have read the above and that does not resonate with you… Then are you wanting support from someone who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt? Then you are probably looking for a mentor.

A mentor will tend to be someone how has experience of your industry or has done the thing you want to do. They are an experienced and trusted advisor. And that is their role. To advise you on the next steps. Potentially be a sounding board for you to run ideas by. The key difference with a mentor is that they have experience in your chosen area. Age can (but not always) be a factor. e.g the mentor is often older than the mentee.

Again, look around. In my experience, mentors and mentees often find each other. Unless they are part of a service – where, usually young people, are matched up with a mentor. In a recent coaching conversation the client mentioned a colleague she had worked with and how inspiring she was. “I’d love to be more like her with how she deals with things” We spoke about her colleague mentoring her, and that relationship has now been established.

My advise would be to look for someone you admire and respect. Someone who’s advise you know you will listen to and follow. Otherwise it will be a waste of your time and theirs!

Some mentors give their time for free, some charge.

And finally of course there is coaching.

I volunteer at a York women’s charity and coach the members each month. This week one of the ladies beautifully described the difference between all three;

“Counselling helped me get stable and deal with the past. Mentoring has given me more guidance. Coaching is right for me now, because I want to be future focused and pragmatic, and really get on with making the changes I want and need to.”

Coaching is very much future focused. Where you are now is of course important to that process as you need clarity on that to move forward. Coaching also hands the reigns over to the coachee. They set the agenda. And unlike mentoring, coaches will ask questions and give advise only when it’s asked for and appropriate. Often to the frustration of clients when they ask me ‘what do you think Jules?’ I will pass the question back and see what answers evolve!…and they do!

Again, ask around. Get referrals if you can. In fact it’s how 90% of my clients find me, through a recommendation. Also, interview them. Whether via phone/video or face to face. Have a chat with them or watch their videos if they have them, because you can get a sense of who they are and how they work. And whether you connect with them.

I have a number of clients who have been through the therapy process and know that coaching is the right next step for them now.

I have others who, like myself, have a mentor and a coach, as each serve a different purpose.

The important process is you working out what you need, so then you will have the clarity to know what to look for.

When you have done that and IF coaching IS the right next step for you, I’d love to throw my hat in the ring and have you interview me to see whether I am the right coach for you. Email so we can get that set up. And mention that you read this blog!

Coaching is not better than mentoring, nor mentoring better than therapy. They all serve a very different purpose. When you know what you need, you can find the right service for you. And I truly hope that you do and wish you every great success on your next steps!