What’s The Difference Between Counseling & Life Coaching?

Is there a big difference between counseling and life coaching and what is it?

What makes counselors and life coaches similar?

There actually are many similarities however there are stark differences as well. Although I am rather new to this field it seems to me that I am already observing some rapid changes. I’m not the one to speculate publicly on what the trend is at this point in my career, however, it’s not uncommon for me to hear a story of someone in the mental health field “leave” taking all of their credentials with them to work as a life coach. In my own personal opinion, these counselors/coaches would be some great people to see. They would have many many tools in their toolbox to help a lot of people not only work through their past but move through into their future.

What makes counselors and life coaches different?

That being said, what are some of the biggest differences between counselors and coaches? By technicality, a counselor focuses on the past and addresses the emotional components of your situation. They are trained in mental diagnosis while helping you understand some of your hurdles and why they are there. A life coach hears your story and really gets down to goals. What is it that you want? Where do you want to be and how are we going to get there?
While some resources on the web define these pretty rigidly, claiming that counselors don’t set goals and life coaches don’t talk about the past, I personally disagree with this. When you find someone who cares about the whole person it’s not that black and white. A counselor has many tools to help you through your past but that does not mean you will never talk about what you want for your future.
The same for a life coach. Although the main trajectory of your sessions will be to help you understand and reach your goals, if there are things from your past that make you scared to reach them, these are things that you will discuss. Depending on their training, they too may have tools to help you through aspects of that.

Should I see a counselor or a life coach?

So how do you know what the right fit is for you? Most of the time if you are questioning this, a good conversation with your medical doctor is the best place to start. They will have a good understanding of you and your history to direct you on the right path.
Counselors are highly trained in many and all areas of mental health. When you are paired with the right fit, you will not only have a supportive listening ear but gain some great tools to navigate the situation you are in.
Life coaches may take a little more research on your part.
  • Who are they and what do they do?
  • Do they have a degree or certification?

While at this time it’s not required, I highly recommend when you seek out a coach you find someone who has put some time and effort into their field with education. What is the area they specialize in? You can find a life coach that will help you organize your home, finances, and schedule. You can find a life coach to help you navigate a life of physical challenges, marriage, and parenting.  This is the mold I fit in.

Because you cannot fit the word “life” in a box, the needs of one individual can be vastly different than the next. Of course, we also live in the world of the web, and doing your own research is also beneficial. You have the chance to get to know someone’s model and practice and most of the time will have a good understanding of who they are and what they offer.

Ideally, whether you find a counselor or a coach well connected with their community, if you are not the right fit for their program, they will be able to connect and direct you to the place you should start.

How do I find a life coach who is a good fit?

I hope you found some of the information in this blog helpful. All in all, it comes down to what you are hoping to accomplish and who is the right person to help you get there. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out and call any provider you are looking into. Often we look to email first or just book an appointment but your human intuition can tell you a lot by the sound of a voice or the flow of the conversation leading you to know if they are a good fit for you.
Wishing you all the best as you take on the journey of being well inside and out.  I’m proud of you.

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