Are you finding difficulty deciding whether to hire a counselor or a coach? The boundaries between coaching and counseling are not always clear, but making the right choice between one or the other can make a difference in whether you get your needs met or not.  Here are some of the distinctions I have found so far:

  1. Coaches work with their clients to reach specific life goals that enhance their growth in the absence of limiting emotional difficulties. For example, a coach may help a client set a plan to change their lifestyle, improve their business, cultivate new relationships, etc. On the other hand, counselors work with people who have thinking, emotional difficulties, or ingrained behavioral problems due to past or recent wounds, trauma, or to a chemical imbalance. If you are experiencing stress caused by your lifestyle choices, a coach can help you best; but if you have anxiety caused by emotions and thoughts that emerge from how you see and interpret the world, a counselor will be a better choice for you.
  2. The goals coaches set up with their clients are measurable, and the result of the actions taken to reach those goals are mostly visible. The goals counselors set up with their clients may not be as obvious to everyone because they are directed at changing internal emotional distress, destructive thoughts, and problem behaviors.
  3. Coaches work to move a client forward towards reaching his or her goal. The main focus is on taking effective action. Meanwhile, the counselor explores the origin of problems and looks at ways to develop new strategies to confront those problems. Counselors explore with their client’s ways to reach life goals even in the face of apparent difficulties, emotional distress, and barriers in reaching them.
  4. Coaches are more personal and tend to disclose more of their own experience than counselors. Counselors disclose rarely, and only if they feel that such disclosure can greatly advance the client’s healing process.