Coaching Versus Counseling: The Difference, and Why It Matters

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When people show up for their very first financial coaching session, they don’t always show up ready to take on the world (or at least their bank accounts).

Sometimes, they’re dreading it. In their minds, they’d rather stick needles in their eyes than spend the next hour talking about all the mistakes they’ve made. They’re worried it’ll turn into some kind of counseling session: rehashing the past and dwelling on the problems. They’re expecting pain—lots of awkward pain.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with counseling. We all know it’s a great tool for navigating difficult situations and relationships. It definitely has its place! But counseling usually focuses a lot on the past to fix the present. It digs into the dirt to explain how what happened before caused what’s happening now.

But when it comes to helping people with their finances, we like to come at it from a different angle. Here it is: Don’t counsel, but coach.

And, yes, they’re worlds apart.

Unlike counseling, coaching is forward-thinking. Optimistic, right?

Coaching acknowledges the past (because, hey, it does matter!), but it doesn’t dwell on it. That’s not going to help anyone. Instead, coaching focuses on making a plan to move forward. Good financial coaches maximize a person’s potential and look for opportunities for improvement. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

In his book Retire Inspired: It’s Not An Age, It’s a Financial Number, financial coach Chris Hogan describes the difference between coaching and counseling like this:

“Think about regret like a rearview mirror in your car. You check it every once in a while to keep yourself from making terrible mistakes while you’re driving. But why is that little mirror so small and the windshield of your car so big? Because you are supposed to look forward! Regret can be your deterrent and your motivation, but I want you to train yourself to look out that big windshield toward hope. You need that regret as long as it stays where it belongs—in that little rearview mirror.”

When you coach, you keep your client looking out that windshield with an occasional glance into the rearview mirror. If they spend too much time looking backward, they’ll never get where they want to go!

It’s empowering to look ahead at the open road toward the future. In fact, a clear road map for reaching the destination can be just as motivating as a dose of regret. Good financial coaches get that.

Ready to learn more about becoming a financial coach? Join us May 12 for an informational webinar where you can learn how Financial Coach Master Training, our new financial coach training experience, can help you get there. Register now!

money | @ChrisBrownOnAir