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A Dynamic Duo: Coaching & Counseling

May 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching and the Church Guest Posts, [None]
Coaching or Counseling?

Coaching or Counseling?

A good deal has already been written about the differences between counseling and coaching.  We know that one is problem-oriented and the other is goal-oriented.  But, the differences between the two methodologies are not what this article is about.  Let’s instead wonder about how the two might compliment each other in the church setting – how they might become a “dynamic duo” in which each plays off of the other’s strengths.  Kind of like Batman and Robin, but not really…
So, let’s start by wondering how many churches these days have their own counseling ministries.  No one knows the actual numbers, but it’s got to be up in the thousands.  Christian counseling became a big deal before the turn of the century, and since then lots of churches have added  counseling to their ministry offerings. 
Churches that provide this needed ministry have already crossed the bridge of “can we trust people to work with others behind closed doors?”  They already give permission for confidential conversations and market the service to their members.  And, they must believe that people can change as a result of deeper level conversations with a safe person.
If you are a Christian coach and you’re already starting to wonder, “So, would these churches with counseling ministries be open to a coaching ministry?” then we’re on the same page.  Most pastors and staff I know would love to have compassionate, trusting individuals available who can talk to members about their lives.  If you have certification as a coach, and you’re talking to a pastor who knows and trusts you, there’s a good chance you could get referrals from a church that already does counseling.  Someone else has already fought the toughest battles in that church to get such ministries off the ground.  You may not get paying referrals right away, but the worst thing that could happen is you might start a very effective ministry that changes many person’s lives and opens the door for bigger and better things in the future in terms of a full-fleged coaching ministry.
Another great connection between church counseling ministries and coaching could be the very real possibility of direct referrals from the counselors.  As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I am always open to referring people to other professional specialists.  Counselors tend to understand what coaching is all about better than many other professionals, and with some good marketing visits on your part, you might be surprised that your local Christian counselor could become a good source of referrals for your coaching business.  As odd as it might seem, counselors don’t necessarily help people “go for their dreams”.   They are too busy helping clients mop up after a crisis.  Imagine yourself providing a workshop for church counseling clients on life purpose, goals, action steps and accountability.  Now that could really get you some new coachees. 
There are also Christian counseling centers that would be open to adding a coach on their staff to broaden their base of clients and to offer something new to the congregation that has fresh appeal and less stigma attached.  Can you imagine yourself working as a coach in a Christian counseling center associated with a local church?  It could happen.  I currently work part-time as a counselor in a local church and they recently asked me to offer coaching as well as counseling.  They advertised the new service in the bulletin and newsletter and then made an announcement in the services, and I got clients right away.
Even though counseling is not the same thing as coaching, they are complimentary services in many ways.  Get to know the Christian counselors in your community or your church if it has a counseling center.  See what Batman and Robin can do together.
Russ Rainey, Ph.D., LPC 
Counselor and Coach
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