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The Difference Between a Coach and a Consultant

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In our business, we are often asked whether or not we are coaches and what distinguishes a coach from a consultant. While both beneficial, a divorce or grief coach and a consultant are not the same; they are two distinct individuals and avenues of work.  More specifically, a coach is someone who helps a person discover his or her own personal questions, the “why,” helping them to better understand their situation from within, in order to navigate through it.   On the other hand, a consultant, and more specifically a crisis consultant, is there to handle the strategic and practical aspects of the situation and to do the very cumbersome and tactical work associated with the crisis event, so that a person can focus on the other aspects of his or her life.  

For instance, where a divorce coach may help someone manage the emotional aspects of a co-parenting arrangement, a consultant is there to explain the process and to put in place parenting schedules to make co-parenting possible. When dealing with the death of a loved one, where a life or grief coach may help someone emotionally cope with the loss, a consultant will step into their client’s shoes to ensure that the tasks related to the estate administration are being taken care of so the person can spend his or her time dealing with the loss and not the administrative and logistical implications.

As former lawyers, our consultants approach a person’s life crisis with the same formality as a lawyer and with the goal of getting the necessary work done so that the person can move past the event. Whether it be a relationship breakdown, divorce, serious illness, or bereavement, a consultant knows what needs to get done, and how todo it.

Consultants are the “doers,” setting up a roadmap, completing tasks, and guiding the person through the process. At these pivotal moments in life where it can feel as though the person is grasping at straws, it is imperative that he or she be supported, not just with words, but with an expert able to step into his or her shoes. This is precisely the consultant’s role.

When someone is going through a divorce or bereavement, the stress level and the demands on his or her time increase tenfold. From dealing with the emotional fallout, to the new normal of working with a lawyer and being asked to provide or review documents regularly, the strain on people can become unsustainable when factoring in that they must also remain focused and productive in their home and work life. People often underestimate the intensity and sheer volume of both the substantive and administrative work that goes into life crisis events until they are in the midst of the crisis. From responding to long to-do lists from their lawyers in the middle of the night to suddenly searching for obscure financial documents, the burden on a person’s time and energy can be severe.

There are a plethora of tasks that need to be completed for the team of professionals who are working with and supporting the person. Managing, understanding, and responding to these requests while also managing one’s daily life and emotions is taxing; with the legal background and knowledge, consultants are able to intervene and complete these sometimes administrative tasks on the person’s behalf so he or she can focus at home and work and move more seamlessly through the process.

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