It’s a sad fact of life that we’ll all experience pain at some point. We’ll lose a beloved family member or pet. Job losses and divorce rates mean people undergo life changes they may not be prepared for.
When these things happen, we might go and see a counsellor. You can access them privately, or sometimes through your health care provider.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Counselling has its place. It’s useful in areas such as bereavement or when you’re tackling addiction.
But you’re here so I can tell you’re looking to move forwards with your dating life. You want to improve the quality of your relationships. So is counselling still the best choice, or should you choose coaching instead?
Let’s check out the coaching vs counselling debate to see which is better for dating and relationships.
What is Counselling?
Counselling primarily focuses on the past, although it does stretch into your present. It provides confidentiality (to a point), and falls under the remit of health providers.
In the UK, you can access it through the NHS. Elsewhere, you can often cover the costs through health insurance.
One of its goals is to help you find ways to cope with the problems you’re having. That might be something like job loss, bereavement, or even PTSD in more severe cases. Perhaps you’re trying to recover from dealings with a narcissist.
One of the downsides of counselling is that it can often come with a stigma attached. Many people don’t like to publicly admit to seeking help for mental health issues.
What is Coaching?
Some people worry that coaching is counselling with a fancy name. In reality, coaching offers a different experience to counselling.
It also offers a much broader range of options, letting people choose much more targeted help from their coach.
For example, a person might hire a health coach to improve their overall health. They might hire a branding coach to overhaul their company’s online image. Or they might hire a life coach to navigate a big life change, like a divorce. Career coaches can help people find the job of their dreams.
You get the idea.
With coaching, you access the expertise and experience of a specialist. They can help you set goals, and work towards desired outcomes. It’s a dynamic, organic process.
Coaching isn’t considered part of mental health provision so it’s not available through health services. Many people who choose coaching want to upgrade an area of their life. It’s less about treating problems from the past and more about achieving well in the future.
Coaching vs Counselling: How Do They Compare?
There is a crossover between the two areas. Both help you identify self-sabotaging behaviour. They can help you interrogate your past to find the root cause of your current problems.
The difference is what you do with the information. Counselling asks you to be introspective and analyse yourself. Coaching is more about taking action.
A counsellor or therapist will try to understand your current behaviour based on your past. Whereas a coach will look at current behaviours that aren’t working and figure out how to adapt or change them.
Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a footballer. You’ve just played a pivotal game in a major tournament. Things didn’t go to plan and you didn’t play your best. You wouldn’t go to see a counsellor to revisit that past game to find peace with how things went.
Instead, you have a coach (or a team of coaches). They help you recover from the setback, take what was useful, and get you prepared for the next match. Think about the half-time pep talks or post-match discussions. You will talk about past performance, yes, but only to do better next time.
You can think of counselling as being more of a passive process. Yes, you’ve excavating your feelings and your past. But you only do this to get a good awareness of them.
Coaching is an active process designed to get you moving forwards. You might still need awareness of the past. After all, it’s helpful to know why you have bad habits before you can change them. But the focus is on what you do about them.
I should point out that coaches can’t diagnose mental health conditions. If you think you may be suffering from a mental health disorder, please seek professional help.
Which Is a Better Approach for Dating and Relationships?
At first glance, you might think counselling is a better choice, to help you work on your issues from the past. If you’ve got any particular pain points or persistent patterns, counselling can help you identify them.
On the downside, you can sometimes get stuck in the past if you only opt for counselling.
Think of that friend you know who can always pinpoint the problems she’s had choosing men like her dad. She might know why she does it. But she doesn’t know how to move forwards. Counseling gave her the awareness but not the strategy to do anything with it.
Coaching is more focused on what you do and how you do it, rather than why you do it. Changing the ‘what’ and ‘how’ lets you achieve different results.
Let’s look at how that works within dating and relationships.
A dating coach can help you figure out dating strategies, and help you to pinpoint exactly what kind of relationship you want. You might look at past relationships for examples of things you do want, but also things you don’t. A counsellor would stop there, but a dating coach will help you build that knowledge into your strategy.
Think back to the football analogy I shared earlier. A dating coach is your equivalent of Jürgen Klopp, giving you half-time pep talks between dates. They help you work through the pain of scoring an own goal and celebrate if you manage a goal from a penalty in extra time.
There Is a Third Way. Why Not Combine the Two?
Most people think you need to take an either/or approach. You might consider counselling first, to work through issues. Then you might jump to a coach for the practical, hands-on help.
But there is a third way, though not every coach will offer this. Why not combine coaching with a therapeutic framework?
Choosing this means you’ll get to uncover the root of your problems and you’ll have the tools to fix them. At Love With Intelligence, we use hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) alongside traditional coaching.
These therapeutic approaches let you solve the problems where they occur in the unconscious. Meanwhile, coaching provides support while you tackle problems in the ‘real’ world.
You’ll find this approach at the heart of our signature Love With Intelligence program. It uses a combination of NLP exercises, hypnosis sessions, and group coaching to help you rewire problems from the past and design your own future. Deepen your learning and personalise the program around your experience with 1:1 coaching sessions.
Most dating coaching focuses on either creating strategies or using manifestation methods that don’t work. Our 360° approach lets you tackle the emotional and mental aspects of finding the right relationship for you.