Are you wondering what the difference between coaching and counseling is? The two disciplines seem very similar, and many people wonder how they differ from one another. While both share some commonalities, there are several differences that set them apart. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences to help you better understand each of these disciplines and decide which might be best for your particular situation.
What is Coaching?
The primary aim of coaching is to provide a supportive structure where individuals can make practical and sustainable change.
Coaching focuses on turning knowledge, skills, and experience into practice. A coach’s main goal is to help an individual maximize their potential. There are several benefits of working with a coach. A coach strives to create a relationship that encourages a person to explore new opportunities while minimizing risk.
Coaches use curiosity and active listening techniques in order to ensure that they better understand their clients’ goals, dreams, fears, struggles, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and how these impact them personally.
Coaching may be for you if you need help:
- increasing your productivity
- managing your time
- focusing on one key task at a time
The coach’s role is not to directly tell you what to do or give you solutions; instead, they listen for goals and obstacles that you might not see on your own. They ask questions and provide feedback so that you can work through your problems. They also create a trusting, judgment-free environment. One where honesty and vulnerability are encouraged, so that true progress can be made.
Even if you have a vision of what you want to achieve, making that happen can be difficult.
There may be roadblocks or setbacks that keep you from achieving your goals. And with so many options, it’s hard to know where to start or how to make your dreams come true. That’s where a coach comes in: they provide outside advice and support as you work toward achieving your goals.
A coach can also help hold you accountable for taking action on new knowledge and self-awareness. This helps you really make sustainable change rather than just learning something new then falling back into old habits.
What is Counseling?
A counselor may advise you on one particular aspect of your life, such as addiction or domestic abuse. Alternatively, they may provide more holistic guidance, helping you to cope with stress by managing relationships and goals. A counselor is trained to listen and understand what’s going on in your life so that they can help you identify ways to improve things.
Many counselors work directly with patients who have mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or depression. Others counsel individuals with stressful professions that can impact mental health, such as teachers, law enforcement professionals, or members of religious communities.
Similarities Between Coaching and Counseling
Counseling is a process of providing therapy to help someone find solutions. A counselor works with clients to develop goals, identify obstacles and suggest ways around them, or adjust behavior in accordance with what you’ve identified as important.
A coach works with clients to provide support, encouragement, and an outsider’s point of view on issues that they face. Coaches work together with their clients to develop goals and then create a plan for reaching those goals.
How are coaching and counseling different?
Both counselors and coaches can help you manage issues in your life. Both are trained to listen, support, give feedback, guide you through decision-making processes, or provide feedback on how to improve your professional performance.
Here are a few key differences between coaching and counseling:
Counselors have a different level of education and licensure than coaches. Counselors have gone to college to study psychology, human behavior, or some other closely related discipline. After obtaining a degree, they then have to become licensed to practice. This is because a counselor works with mental health conditions like addiction, depression, or anxiety.
Time focus. Counselors often work on helping you overcome your past and how it affects you into your future. Looking at traumas, life experiences, etc that have played a role in your overall mental health and capacity. Coaches tend to be future-focused. They look at your goals and dreams and help carve a way forward.
Coaching tends to be short-term. It can last a few months, a year, or a few years depending on what you’re working on. Counseling is often long-term therapy. The goal is to work with you over a longer period of time to improve your mental health and overall well-being.
How to determine if you need a coach or a counselor
Identifying your needs is an important first step toward choosing a good counselor or coach. Do you need help developing strategies for coping with stress? Are you hoping to get out of a rut and become more motivated? Or do you want to make major life changes like quitting smoking, getting organized, or changing jobs? The right professional can support you in achieving your goals.
The right professional can help you achieve your goals. If you’re wondering whether a coach or counselor is right for you, consider the following questions: Do I need help coping with stress? Do I want to make big changes in my life? Will I benefit from having someone hold me accountable to reach my goals? The answers will point you toward a good fit. Perhaps you could use some support holding yourself accountable.
Perhaps you have very specific needs that are best addressed by a credentialed professional with training in your particular issue area. It could be that you just want some advice on reaching your career goals—in which case, it might not matter if they have formal credentials because what matters most is their expertise and insight into career planning.
The reality is that there is a subtle, but very real difference between coaching and counseling. And only you know what you need!