Let us look at coaching in relation to other supporting professions.
Counselling: this supporting profession deals with individual’s psychological problems, often referring to the experiences, difficulties the individual had in the past, which hinder individual’s emotional well-being in the present. Coaching on the other hand, does not aim at solving individual’s psychological problems. Coaching is future-oriented.
It focuses on future opportunities, not on the past “mistakes”. During coaching process, there are no mistakes, there are only experiences one needs to learn from. There is no feeling of guilt or regret, there is only responsibility for one’s actions.
Coaching “does not care much” about what kind of person the individual was in the past. It is not the past that is the true measure of individual’s capabilities and future opportunities. When looking at the past, the main focus are positive experiences and achievements.
It is worth highlighting that the coach is not a psychologist by profession (except for those coaches who have an academic background in psychology) and cannot provide any type of professional psychological service.
Consulting: the consultant who is an expert in a specific field is invited to an organization, such as a business company to diagnose the existing problem and its possible causes. Afterwards, based on his/her research, the expert provides solutions and suggestions to improve the situation.
Coaching, on the other hand, does not provide advice, the coach does not dictate solutions, as there is an assumption that both the individual and the organization have all the required resources to find the best solution for them by themselves. Coaching is based on equal, partnering relationship between the client and the coach. The coach has a supportive role, guiding the client to view the situation from a new perspective via creative thinking, to see such opportunities which have not been previously visible to the client.
Mentoring is a partnership between individuals, or between an individual and a group, during which the mentor, someone with an extensive knowledge, skills and expertise in a specific field, transfers them to the individual or the group.
Coaching helps to learn, Mentoring teaches.
One of the best examples of mentoring is the relationship between Mentor and Telemachus in the poem of "Odyssey” by Homer.
Before travelling to Troy, Odyssey entrusts the government of his house, as well as the upbringing of his son Telemachus to his friend Mentor, telling him, “Teach him all you know.” The last expression best describes the essence of mentoring.
To sum up, both mentoring and coaching focus on individual’s present, as well as future opportunities. They aim at goal-setting, action-plan building, its implementation, as well as catalyzing positive changes in the personal and professional life of the individual.