Years ago a leader I was coaching asked me to help him find ways to discover “joy” in his life.
This really threw me. I wasn’t clear what he was asking, so I asked some questions to clarify what he really wanted. What do you do when you’re coaching someone and you enter into a conversation that has the potential to become a counseling appointment?
The two disciplines, coaching and counseling, bleed into each other and it is important to keep clear boundaries. People approach coaching with various ideas that may or may not line up with what coaching actually is.
Here’s a quick overview of the distinctions between the two disciplines, taken from an article authored by Linda Miller, a coach and marriage family counselor.
Making Distinctions between Coaching and Counseling
|Understanding and issues
|Present to future focus
|Past to present focus
|Create and design
|Repair and resolve
|Expertise lies within person being coached
|Expertise lies within counselor
|Give answers and advice
|What and how
Used with permission – Linda Miller, MCC for publication in REV Magazine © April 2003
I have found this chart to be very helpful in my own coaching experience.
During this season of adjusting to a new normal in our post-COVID world, it is important to be clear what you’re about. And when clients move into counseling territory on the right side of the chart above and you are not qualified, be aware and refer your client to a qualified counselor.
Back to the opening illustration. You see that “joy” fits in the coaching column. After clarifying with my client that he wasn’t asking questions better suited for a counselor, I was able to coach him in the precise way he needed. Below are some questions to help you when you come across a leader in search of “joy”:
- What is the most memorable season of your life that was joyful?
- What made it joyful?
- What can you take from that experience that you can apply in your life today?
- If you were able to arrive at a joyful place, how would you celebrate that?
- Who would you include?
- What do you sense the Lord saying to you about “joy”?
- How can you thank the Lord?
For many leaders, discovering joy is a real challenge today. If you find someone not feeling quite themselves or at a low point, it might be time to have an honest conversation about how things are going. Serving them as a friend could mean having a simple conversation where they feel heard, connecting them to a coach, or, in some cases, encouraging them to seek out counseling.