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What's the difference between counselling and life coaching?

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

What is the Difference Between Counselling and Life Coaching?

When I tell people that I am a counsellor and a life coach, one of the first questions they ask is, "what is the difference between counselling and life coaching?" 

There is a slight cross over between counselling and life coaching, in as much as in both helping roles, the client is given a private and confidential space to discuss their concerns and find ways in which to deal with them. 

People who seek the help of a counsellor have usually found themselves in a predicament they cannot seem to find a way out of.  Or, they may have suffered a bereavement / loss or are facing some kind of crisis that is really getting them down.

If you are going through a challenging time right now, then you maybe considering counselling.

As a counsellor, I help people to :-

  • Gain clarity and perspective of the problems they are facing.

  • Help them to find their own solutions to the problems they are facing.

  • Give them the space to be themselves and to be open and honest about they way they truly feel.

Help them to develop their own self concept so that they are more capable of making their own decisions rather than looking to the 'so-called' experts in their lives, to tell them what to do.

  • Discover more about themselves and become self aware.

  • Help them to accept themselves and accept others.

  • Help them to determine what is not working in their lives and support them in relinquishing limiting beliefs and behaviours.

  • Help them to put closure on the past.

  • Help them to perceive or respond to things differently so they feel able to communicate their feelings to those they love, more effectively.

  • Help them deal with issues from the past that are stopping them from moving forward.

What counselling isn't:-

  • Counselling isn't about providing solutions or telling a person what to do, it is about giving them the space to find their own solutions.

  • Counselling is not coaching or mentoring. 

  • It is not bias towards certain cultures or traditions

As counsellor, I have no personal agenda or bias opinion of the client's life. Therefore, it is much easier for me to be more supportive because when rapport has been established with the client, it puts them at  ease, and they can be themselves.

Life Coaching.

Life Coaching on the other hand, helps people to focus on what they really want and then develop a plan of action, which is SMART (specific, measurable, realistic and time framed), which will ultimately help them attain their goal.

Coaching can be deemed to be mentoring, especially when a client seeks the help of a coach to help them turn their business around, or work with staff who are experiencing conflict or challenges they are finding difficult to overcome.

As a life coach I help people to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then eliminate what is not working in their life.  As fallible human beings we all have weaknesses, but all too often, people can become obsessive when they feel they are not meeting their own expectations. That is why goal setting is so important in the coaching process.

The client feels in control, even though they maybe challenged from time to time by the coach. Once a client has tackled the obstacles they have put in their way, they become empowered to make the changes needed and attain success in their lives.

As a coach, I have the ability to listen to what the client is really saying and then as I reflect back their thoughts and feelings it helps them to gain an insight into what actions could be considered,in order to make the changes needed to attain personal success. When this happens, it is great to observe your client having a 'light bulb' moment - where suddenly everything is becoming crystal clear and they can now see a way forward.

Coaching helps to re-inforce self belief in a client and if the coach is doing their job properly, by the end of the coaching process, a client will walk away feeling like they can tackle the challenges ahead.

What coaching isn't:-

  • It is not counselling.

  • It is not about offering solutions or providing answers. A coach encourages the client to do that for him/herself

  • It does not focus on the past​.

So, whatever you are going through in your life right now, whatever challenge you may be facing, you now have some insight into what form of therapy may help you to overcome the difficulties you maybe experiencing.

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