What Are the Differences Between Counseling vs. Coaching?

It’s often easy to confuse the benefits and even the very definitions of counseling and coaching in the mental health world. While the two are somewhat related, they’re more like distant cousins than any other type of closer relationship.

It’s essential to understand the differences between the two, especially if you’re looking for some professional help.

What are the differences between counseling vs. coaching? Which one is right for you and your specific situation?

What Is Counseling?

When it comes to counseling, the goal is to help people reach their personal goals. Counselors help to reveal the insight of their own lives. This approach helps you to be more self-aware. It also helps you to be more aware of others and their impact on your life.

When you become more self-reflective, you can improve your self-esteem, find direction in your life, and develop secure relationships. Additionally, when you’re more aware of who you are, you’re more likely to achieve those goals confidently.

Most people turn to counseling when they are going through a rough time or are dealing with things they can’t handle on their own. It focuses on present struggles as impacted by the past. Counseling can be an excellent asset for those with mental health issues or someone needing addiction intervention. It is a safe, secure environment that allows you to open up and dig into your past to better your future.

What Is Coaching?

While coaching has some similarities to counseling, there are a few critical differences. Perhaps the most significant counseling vs. coaching difference is that counseling tends to focus on the past to encourage self-reflection.

Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on the future. It allows you to see where you are today and what you can do to move forward. While counseling often tells you what to do to achieve your goals, coaching is about discovering what those goals are.

Differences Between Counseling vs. Coaching

On the surface, counseling and coaching do sound similar. Each method helps you find your best self and move forward with your life — but in somewhat different ways.

One of the biggest counseling vs. coaching differences is that coaching focuses more on action and change. Counseling focuses more on coping and healing. While you certainly will learn how to go out into the world and reach your goals with counseling, you first have to peel back layers of who you are and things that may be holding you back.

Coaching is about action from the start as you are guided to figure out what you want. A coach may challenge you more than a counselor. Though counselors will try to guide you to reach your goals, they are there for support and understanding.

Similarities of Counseling vs. Coaching

One of the most interesting similarities between coaching and counseling is also where they differ the most. A coach is trained to recognize which of your core beliefs in life could be holding you back.

A counselor can do the same thing. But, they will typically go further. In addition to recognizing what’s holding you back, a counselor can recognize if it’s something like depression or anxiety contributing to your setbacks.

Whether you choose coaching or counseling is a lot about personal preference. It also depends on where you are in your life and where you want to be. While both options will help you achieve your goals, one does so by considering your past and how you can get to the core of your problems — the other focuses on your future and where you can be with the right mindset.

If you’re interested in learning more about counseling or coaching, or you would like to set up an appointment, feel free to contact me for more information. Or visit my page on addiction intervention to learn more.


Choosing a Life Coach: 5 Essential Traits to Look For

Choosing a Life Coach is not very hard, if you know what to look for. Below are 5 essential traits to look for to make sure you find the right one for you. A great life coach needs to have much more than techniques and resources for you to try. Their personality traits can make a big difference, not only in how well they work with you, but how much they can change your life.

Chemistry is vital between a life coach and their clients. So, it’s essential to choose someone who feels like a good fit.

With that in mind, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to life coaches. When choosing a life coach, you might find someone you don’t work as well with, as you initially thought. That’s okay. Understanding that ahead of time can save you both a lot of effort (and save you a lot of money!).

There are certain traits every life coach should have, though. When you’re starting your search for a coach, keep these characteristics in mind to narrow down the field.

1. They Are Trustworthy

Life coaches have to advertise themselves and their services to get clients. But, are they authentic within their marketing? Are they “selling” more than just a gimmick?

If your life coach isn’t authentic, they’re looking at themselves as a product. Products can only do so much, and they typically follow a pattern instead of working with people on an individual basis.

Without authenticity, you’ll never be able to fully trust your life coach. Without that trust, you’ll never be able to build a strong relationship with them. As a result, your time together will end up feeling more like a motivational seminar or lesson.

In choosing a life coach, try to focus on the relationship. That said, relationships are built on trust, and your relationship with a life coach is no different. Make sure they’re themselves from the start.

2. They Know Who They Are

Most people can tell when someone is being “real” with them or not. A life coach should have textbook knowledge, but they should also have a unique personality that makes them qualified for what they do.

After all, almost anyone can read a book, attend classes, etc. It takes a particular person to motivate others – they should have formal professional training, measurable experience and a personality that inspires. Keep this in mind when choosing a life coach.

Your coach should have no problem showcasing who they are. If they have a naturally positive, motivating demeanor, you can feel more comfortable learning from them.

Also remember, that part of knowing who you are is knowing who you are not. A reputable coach will never try to represent themselves as being the best coach for every person and every need. If they are not open and honest – up front – about what they don’t do, then look for someone else.

3. They Are Compassionate and Supportive

Great coaches genuinely connect with their clients. So, when a client is facing struggles, the coach feels those struggles and wants to help. Finding someone with compassion can make a huge difference. They’ll let you know you shouldn’t be ashamed of your struggles, and you won’t feel alone in getting through them.

Your coach should also be supportive, no matter how big or small your challenges are. It takes a delicate balance, being able to connect with clients while offering “big picture” guidance, but the right life coaches make it happen.

4. They Are Confident

Your life coach should know what they are worth. This mindset doesn’t mean they’re cocky or condescending. But, they should have confidence in themselves, what they do, and how they can help you. (Be wary of those priced way below the market or offering special “discounts”. You often get what you pay for, to a point. And significant price reductions usually reflect desperation which is not a good sign. Yes. Be a smart shopper – but be savvy too).

Their confidence will help you to trust them more. A life coach can show you how confident they are in what they do simply through how they live their lives. They make mistakes and own up to them, they have a thirst for knowledge, and they stand firm in what they believe.

5. They Are Dedicated

Life coaches can have several different clients at any given time. The best coaches show the same level of dedication to each one. Coaches understand that it can take a long time to see results. It’s a journey. When your coach commits to going on that journey with you, you’ll want them there for all the ups and downs.

Your coach should be willing to stay involved with you every step of the way, even if that journey takes longer than expected.

If you’re unsure about whether a professional life coach is right for you, or if other forms of counseling and help might be better, feel free to contact me for more information or visit one of my other my pages to learn more about my services.