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What is the difference between Coaching and Counseling?

Coaching and Counseling share many similarities—both are strengths-based, change oriented, and client-centered, for example; and both strategies require a Coach or Counselor to be nonjudgmental, curious, compassionate, and with a desire to listen carefully, understand, and support clients. And, there are also differences in approach that can make one more appropriate at certain times in life, for certain issues.

What is Coaching?

The International Federation of Coaching defines coaching as:

“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”


  • Is discovery-based, not linear or directed at a curriculum or skills acquisition
  • Sees the client as the expert, fully capable of generating solutions to their own goals
  • Helps the client to recognize and draw out their own resourcefulness
  • Is present- and future-focused, success-driven, and goal-directed
  • Helps clients design their own framework for taking concrete actions to meet goals
  • Focuses on goal-setting, outcome creation, and personal change management
  • No diagnosis is given; medical insurance can’t be billed for Coaching services


  • Helps manage and heal emotional pain, usually the pain that comes from childhood hurts.
  • Focuses on mental health, which requires a medical diagnosis
  • Services can be billed to medical insurance providers
  • Teaches skills that help with diagnosed mental health disorders
  • Helps people heal from traumatic events through exposure therapy
  • Works to improve psychological and emotional functioning
  • Outcomes focus on improved daily mood and emotional state

Both modalities are powerful tools for change! Particularly if you have experienced chaotic or emotionally abusive or neglectful relationships, Counseling will help you to lower the volume on your inner critic’s loud voice, grieve your losses, release trauma and pain from your body, and improve your ability to set healthy emotional boundaries and feel less reactive in relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

Coaching, on the other hand, can be most helpful when something important and specific is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal, new opportunity); when you desire quicker results; when you are in a transition and need clarity about complex choices; when you are in a time of rapid change and need to quickly acquire new resources or skills; when you need to identify your own power and core strengths in order to meet a specific challenge.

Coaching and Counseling are not mutually exclusive. For example, you could be working in Counseling on healing trauma, while participating in several Coaching sessions to help you set and meet new career goals. And, a competent Coach will help you to identify obstacles (such as Depression, for example, or panic attacks), that would benefit more from mental health treatment than Coaching.

Whether you choose Coaching or Counseling help, I look forward to working with you on your creative and beautiful life journey!