Coaching vs Counseling

by marilyn on September 24, 2008

Many people I work with have asked about the difference between a “coach” and a “counselor.” As both, I can understand where it can get a bit confusing. While there are many similarities, there are some key differences. If you are considering working with a coach, you should make sure you do your research to find out their certifications, experience and what their life interests or pre-coach career experiences are. Choosing a coach is a very personal choice and it’s important that you “click” with your coach.

Where counseling and coaching both are founded on listening, guiding and resolving, coaching takes it a step further. It’s like having a personal trainer vs. a physical therapist. The latter helps you heal an injury; the former helps you tone and improve performance. Coaches work with you to devise a plan and set goals. They work and support you through it. It’s very focused, and can be intense (think of how you feel after your coach has put you through circuit training–your muscles ache, but you feel exhilarated). You hand over your trust to your personal trainer that she/he won’t cause bodily injury, but you are looking to be pushed. You are looking for change.

Both counseling and coaching are great resources for change; your coach will push you (although only to the extent you agree) and be very focused on goal setting and planning so you reach the goals you want.

Hope that helps differentiate!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Prem Rao September 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

When we speak of initiatives to facilitate performance improvement, we first establish whether the main cause is due to a lack of knowledge, skills or attitude.

In my view, we coach if the gap is in knowledge or skills, and we counsel if the gap is in the realm of attitude.

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