Mentoring or Coaching?

Have you noticed how many people are calling themselves life coaches or professional coaches these days? Coaching seems to offer a broad umbrella for people who offer guidance, skill-building and consultation about a huge variety of issues, everything from career planning to parenting and everything in between. 

Coaching also seems to take place primarily by phone, which differentiates it from other professional relationships that use phone sessions as needed, but not necessarily as the main venue for communication. 

I've been a social worker for almost twenty-five years. There has always been an aspect of my practice that involves mentoring, concrete support, skill development and guidance, as well as building confidence and shoring up existing resources and supports. 

Mentoring evokes more of a relational quality, and as a mentor I provide supportive guidance and encouragement as people create a vision for what they want and a roadmap for how to get there. While these qualities are also true in therapy and spiritual direction, lately I have encountered people who are looking for something that falls somewhere in between coaching, spiritual guidance, and counseling. 

Wow 6   

“I want to live the rest of my life, however
long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the
people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do.  I am going to write fire until it comes
out of my ears, my eyes, my noseholes—everywhere.  Until it’s every breath I breathe.  I’m going to go out like a f*#?ing meteor!  Audre Lorde


photo courtesy of Bill Wilson Photos