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Counseling vs. Coaching

So you want to talk to someone, but not sure if you need life coaching or counseling services? Let's break down the difference.

What is coaching? The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” I like to think of coaching as very present and future oriented. Unlike counseling, we aren't exploring childhood experiences, past traumas and hurts. Instead, I meet you where you are today. Through my coaching services I will: 1. Help you define your goals. 2. Partner with you in formulating a plan to achieving these goals using the skills you already have. 3. Hold you accountable for your progress and 4. Provide structure, encouragement and support. As a result of focusing on the here and now and immediate future, results from coaching occur and a much quicker pace than in counseling. Just understand that these "results" are more narrowly defined. While credentialing services are available, a coach is not required to be licensed.

What is counseling? Counseling on the other hand is a deeper dive into your life. Counseling examines the did I get to this place? With counseling we are assuming there is some type of dysfunction or Issue that needs to be worked through. In my counseling services, I will help you understand what events have shaped your experiences and help you recognize what is needed to cope and be at peace with yourself and your life. Consequently, counseling is done at a much slower pace then coaching. You may not see results immediately because exploring the past often opens up wounds that need healing before we can move forward to the future. However, the reward of this exploration and healing process is in long term sustainable results. In order for a practitioner to provide counseling services, they have to be licensed by their state governing board.

In my practice I require we have at least 3 counseling sessions before I will see anyone as a life coach. In my practice I do not do exclusive life coaching for anyone suffering from a serious mental health disorder that is not under control, so it is vital that I be able to screen readiness for life coaching through counseling services first. However, if you desire you are free to see a different life coach and do counseling with me simultaneously.  At the intake session, we will discuss which path you think you want to go on and if you are interested in life coaching, we will revisit this somewhere between session 3-5 to see if we should switch gears. 

So how do I choose which one?  In general, if you only want to focus on what you are dealing with right now, don’t want someone to ask you anything too personal, want help making action steps, and/or the area of life you are most concerned about is your career, coaching might be a good choice. If you are curious about breaking patterns of thinking and acting that have been plaguing your life for some time, would like to raise your self-esteem and understand yourself, and want to figure out what you want in life and move towards it, counseling might be a good choice.

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