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What’s the difference between coaching and counselling?

Counselling is primarily concerned with processing experiences in the past, healing trauma and addressing negative experience such as anxiety and depression. Counselling helps you adapt, see things in a more positive light and develop your innate coping skills.

Coaching is about realigning yourself with your true values and optimising your lifestyle so you can reach your full potential. By setting goals, utilising behaviour change techniques and learning new skills, coaching helps you build an actionable plan for the future.

Though quite different, they do share similarities. Both address thinking habits, aim to re-frame self-defeating thoughts and beliefs, and both seek to offer new perspectives and coping mechanisms. Counsellors have regulated qualifications and have undergone training to provide therapy for mental health problems. Coaching on the other hand, is not therapy, does not provide treatment for mental health problems, is unregulated and personal development based.

Which should I choose?

If you feel you are suffering from unprocessed trauma or experience anxiety, depression or low self-esteem, we would advise accessing counselling.

If you are primarily concerned with changing your relationship with alcohol and re-organising your life we would advise coaching.

With Free Spirits, it’s possible to try both. Please get in touch to discuss your options.

What’s the difference between a coach and a sponsor?

If you join a 12-step group such as AA, you will have the option of obtaining a sponsor. A sponsor is an experienced member of the group – a peer – who helps you ‘work the steps’, i.e. takes you through each step of the programme, on an unpaid, one-on-one basis. Sponsors can be invaluable support in your recovery journey, but it can be hard to find a good match. Sponsors usually do not have formal training and primarily concentrate on the 12-steps approach aided by their personal experience.

Recovery coaches have formal training and utilise a wider theoretical approach to recovery. Coaches provide unbiased information and tailor support to your exact needs. Coaching takes a whole life approach, setting goals and building an actionable plan that takes in all aspects of the client’s life. Coaches do not tell you what to do or how to do it – they support you to find your own solutions. Coaches are employed solely to help you, focus on your specific requirements and be your own personal cheerleader.

Do I have a problem with booze?

If you’re asking the question, then the answer is you probably do. But don’t worry! You’re not alone – loads of folks do and you can do something about it. It’s pointless wasting time umming and ahhing about whether it’s bad enough or if you’re an alcoholic or not (you’ve heard of the boiling frog metaphor – right?)

The DSM–5 lays out some useful diagnostic criteria on Alcohol Use Disorder:

In the past year, have you:
Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?
The DSM-5 is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S. Find out more here

The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms indicates Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
The severity of the AUD is defined as:

Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms
Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms
Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms

If you’re worried and would like to have a chat please get in touch.

Alternatively, there are many UK based organisations that can provide you with information. The NHS have details on alcohol misuse that can be found here.

To turn away from your fears and let them win is to live a lackluster existence with no deeply felt sense of purpose. Those who do not face their demons live a half-life, lacking the depth and understanding of those who have dared to look into the deep mirror of their souls

Sue Martin

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66 King Street
Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 1JB
United Kingdom

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