Sharon Gayle Counseling (SGC) offers counseling, psychotherapy, and coaching services to its clients. These three terms are often confusing and sometimes overlapping. You may think of them as three levels of psychological and emotional support for some area of your life.
Psychotherapy involves the most intensive level of support, education, and skills training for a person having symptoms of mental disorder. The focus in psychotherapy is more on healing from the past or addressing the mental and emotional impact of a biological condition, such as schizophrenia, dementia, or even cancer. Psychotherapists assess, diagnose, and treat mental illness. Often, the focus this work is identifying and reducing symptoms of a diagnosable mental disorder. Therapists are licensed to treat mental illnesses using psychotherapeutic methods and help their clients achieve and maintain baseline mental health. And although there are no hard rules, psychotherapy often requires long-term commitment by the client (often several years to lifetime). Depending on severity of symptoms, frequency of appointments is often weekly with short periods of more frequent sessions during crisis.
Counseling is a moderate level of support, education, and training that focuses on mental wellness in contrast to treating mental illness symptoms. Although counselors receive the same training as psychotherapists and are able to diagnose and treat mental disorders, they generally work with less severe forms of mental illness, including moderate depression or anxiety. Another difference from psychotherapy is largely in the counselor’s approach to the client’s concerns. As mentioned above, psychotherapy focuses upon symptom reduction and stabilization. Counseling can also help people work through self-esteem issues, alcohol and substance abuse, and adjusting to emotional upheavals due to unexpected challenges and situations. Counseling can be brief or long (3 months to more than a year). Sessions may start weekly and move to bi-weekly as the client gains more skills and confidence. Insurance companies may pay for counseling services for a limited period.
Coaching offers a brief level of support and guidance (generally 3-4 sessions). Coaches motivate and encourage people to achieve specific goals. In my practice, I also provide case management. In other words, I help identify other resources that may be available and effective in addressing your concern. I refer specifically to resources for family caregivers. Because coaching does not involve identifying, diagnosing, and reducing symptoms, coaching is often described as being more positive in nature than either psychotherapy or counseling. Insurance will not cover coaching.