Are you thinking about providing coaching or counselling in schools? There are many differences as well as many similarities between Coaching and Counselling. They are similar in that they both provide the means to create positive relationships with individuals to support their wellbeing and growth. However, they can have significant differences in their training, approach and intention.

Counselling tends to concentrate on past events and emotions, working backwards to bring the individual back up to the present time and can be a useful approach for addressing and dealing with trauma. Coaching on the other hand works more in the present and is future facing, objectively looking at the past/patterns to help identify a different way forward. It enables the individual to look at difficult solutions and develop skills and coping strategies to form new habits, attitudes or abilities to deal with these.

The lines between Coaching and Counselling have become slightly blurred as Coaching has evolved to more psychologically underpinning and Counselling has broadened its approach. However there are distinct areas where the differences still stand out and below is a guide of behaviours and situations under which schools should refer identified students:

Refer for Coaching:

  • To help with managing behaviour
  • To increase motivation, engagement in learning
  • To increase with aspiration & achievement
  • To help develop self-belief & self-worth
  • To help promote confidence & self-esteem
  • To develop communication and interpersonal skills
  • To develop problem solving abilities
  • To develop thinking skills & perspective

Refer for Counselling:

  • Traumatic events
  • Grief
  • Abuse
  • To support self-understanding
  • To develop emotional awareness

The Results of Coaching versus Counselling in schools

The report Resilience and Results: How to improve the emotional and mental wellbeing of children and young people in your school’ from The Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition concludes that:

‘Supporting young people’s emotional and mental wellbeing, or providing additional support for those with behavioural and emotional difficulties, can help them cope with the ups and downs of life, help them develop good relationships, and help them reach their full potential’.

The report also recommends schools work in partnership with organisations to promote emotional and mental wellbeing to provide additional support for young people with behavioural and emotional difficulties. This is where Worth-it Projects can help.

Our unique evidence based targeted support services have been proven to have a positive effect on young people suffering from a number of problems relating to poor emotional health and mental wellbeing. Our ground breaking approach uses positive psychology and coaching psychology to help build resilience, optimism and improve emotional wellbeing. The main outcome being to prevent long term emotional health problems and helping young people to flourish and reach their potential during their time at school and beyond.

We use the Dass 21 (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale) and the SDQ (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) to assess the benefits of coaching in schools. Recent results are detailed below -

DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale)

Depression = 77% improvement
Anxiety = 81% improvement
Stress = 81% improvement
(Out of 52 participants)

SDQ (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire)

Total Score = 88% improvement or 91% improved or stayed the same
Emotional = 77% improvement
Conduct = 54% improvement
Peer problems = 66% improvement
Hyperactivity = 70% improvement
Prosocial = 52% improved or 73% stayed the same or improved
(Out of 56 participants)
These great results clearly show the benefits of coaching in schools to improve mental wellbeing and emotional & behavioural problems.

Training in Coaching Skills to use with Young People

Counselling is sometimes seen as the only option for emotional or mental health related problems in schools. By developing coaching to support young people with emotional health problems, we have created a proactive, empowering alternative, which improves mental wellbeing and fits in with school priorities of engagement and achievement.

We have developed our coaching approach into our training offer for schools and professionals. We believe in up-skilling professionals such as teachers, pastoral staff and teaching assistants to use a coaching approach in their work supporting young people to improve mental health.  Training staff rather than investing in external support is a cost-effective way of increasing capacity in your schools to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Here at Worth-it we are approachable and accessible and will happily talk through what the difference between Coaching and Counselling in schools is and why coaching training could be a suitable option for your school's approach to tackling mental health problems in young people. We can talk you through the various training, tools and techniques as well as when it is relevant for counselling.

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