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Coaching and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, as well as coaching, promises changes in behaviour, experience and communication in their clients. The principles, by which this change occurs, or should be affected, cannot differ. How can this be possible? The principles of change, the active factor for enabling psychological wellbeing, work motivation, successful communication and good performance, apply to all consultancy forms equally, because people who are being coached do not have a different soul to those clients who are visiting the psychotherapist.

The assumption, that the ‘healthy’ arrive in coaching and the ‘sick’ in psychotherapy, is naïve. People who arrive in coaching are those, who, despite their inner need have been successful in a certain way (though maybe not happy and therefore making others unhappy with it), whilst in psychotherapy those people arrive, whose symptoms are interpreted as deviant or abnormal, i.e. whose suffering pressure is high. This does not alter anything about the fact that in all cases, internal conflicts, which lie behind the respective concerns or problems must be processed. For this, the coach, therapist, counsellor requires professional competence, the ‘theoretical’ basis for which we are providing here.

In this metatheory of change we, therefore, use the overriding concept ‘counsellor’ in order to make clear that:

• a coach requires similar and at the same time, additional competences when compared with a psychotherapist, to do justice to people in organisations and not to get stuck in the superficialities of behaviour adaptation. Any counselling without psychodynamic competence threatens to be harmful.

• The theory of change is the same, even if, on the level of practical implementation, much is (must be) done differently than in psychotherapy. This is because it is indisputable that an enormous difference is made by how broad the reach is, what the cause and goals are, whether a third party – the organisation – has interests at play and, respectively, what the expectations of the client are. These differences must be taken into consideration professionally and they distinguish the respective contact and counselling offers of coaches and therapists in a different way.

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