One of my clients came for her last session today. It's been such a privilege to watch her untangle, grow in confidence - especially in one particular area of her life - and pull herself out of her 'stuck-ness'. I'm looking forward to seeing where this new found sense of empowerment and control takes her.
One of the things I love most about being a coach, as opposed to a counsellor, is the freedom it gives me to work 'outside the lines'. Most of the support I gave this client was a bit outside the normal realm of wellbeing coaching, helping her with something on more of a practical than emotional level.
There are other things I love about being a coach instead of a counsellor. As a counsellor, I wouldn't be encouraging my client to keep in touch with me and let me know how her new venture develops. The relationship would very much end when she walked out the door (unless she planned on coming back for sessions in the future). As a counsellor, I had to observe a much stricter ethical code around boundaries and 'how much of me' I could bring to the relationship. There were lines that just couldn't be crossed.
Having said that, there are very many similarities between the way that I'd work as a counsellor and the way I work as a coach (I'm still non-judgemental, I'm still empathic, I'm still congruent, I still value my clients' confidentiality), but being able to cross some of the strict boundaries that are prevalent in the counselling relationship makes my role as a wellbeing coach much more rewarding - for both me and my clients.
There's much more scope for bringing my own experiences and 'self' to the relationship. If I think a client will benefit from hearing something of my own life's story, I'm happy to share it. If I think a client will benefit from knowing what has helped me in the past, I'm happy to share it. And if I think I can help a client by using some form of support that doesn't exactly fit into any of the traditional 'counselling' or 'lifestyle coaching' models I'll use it.
I know that some women are reluctant to seek help through counselling as it feels too 'cold' or distant. I prided myself on trying my best not to be that type of counsellor. Warmth and deep connection was always my aim. But there was always a line that couldn't be crossed and keeping up with each other beyond the professional relationship was a definite no-go area.
It's not to say that that's what happens with every coaching client - but today as I hugged my lovely client goodbye, I remembered how difficult I often used to find it to close the door when someone I'd been supporting for a long time left, knowing that I'd never know how they progressed beyond our months long relationship.
I'm so glad to have found a way of helping women that lets me step outside the lines and tailor the support I can offer much more specifically to their wonderful, unique selves. And allows me, and them, to become friends.