The Differences Between Life Coaching & Counseling
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
Mental wellness is an important component of our overall health. Support from a professional with handling life's complexities can benefit everyone at one point, or another, or continuously. But how do you know what kind of professional is a better fit for you?
Perhaps because I'm both trained as a counselor and a life coach, I get asked what the differences between the two professions are quite regularly. Let's explore the similarities and differences between life coaching and counseling so that you can make a sound decision regarding who to work with.
Life coaches help mentally sound adults solve a problem. To do this, they help you identify and clarify the problem that you're currently experiencing and work toward goals that will help you find relief. Life coaches provide structure and accountability, and work as a guide to the change process. Generally, life coaches tend to hold a wellness model of health, are strengths based, and action-oriented. They motivate, offer emotional support, and build confidence in their clients. Life coaches can work generally (like I do) or specialize in specific areas - executive, health & wellness, somatic, business, career, relationship, parenting, etc.
While life coaching is a legitimate profession that includes highly skilled professionals, there are (currently) no education requirements or governing regulations of the profession.
Counselors help people work through mental health issues or challenging life events. Common issues are anxiety, depression, grief, addiction, and trauma. These issues may or may not be a diagnose-able condition, but the counselor will help you process and treat the symptoms that you're experiencing. Most counselors help you process your past, relate it to your present, and help you work toward mental stability. There are various specializations and therapeutic modalities that a counselor can work within, although most pull from a selection of a few. Some of the most known are - cognitive behavioral, existential, family systems, humanistic, Jungian, narrative, person-centered, solution-focused, etc.
Counselors are licensed professionals, with varying masters or doctorate degrees. Each state has their own set of licensing requirements that must adhered to and renewed regularly in order to practice legally. Counselors may also opt to work with insurance companies to provide cost-effective services to their clients.
Both life coaches and counselors can help you overcome problems and improve your life.
Regardless of who you choose to work with, what matters is what you bring to the work. In counseling and coaching, it is imperative to be open and honest in order to get all that you can out of it.
Life coaches and counselors are human. No two counselors or coaches are the same and it is important to find someone who is a good fit for you. They should make you feel heard, acknowledged, and work in a style that feels good to you. A trusting and open client-coach/counselor relationship is fundamental for change. This is their work and you are the customer - shop around for the right fit.
There are times when counseling might benefit you more than life coaching and vice versa. However, I agree with the sentiment that author and clinical psychologist, Michael Bader, shared when he wrote, "What matters is that people get help in their efforts to grow, master their problems and become more effective in their lives."
Get help if you need it. You are worth it.
Want to see if life coaching is a good fit for you?
Click the link here to schedule a free discovery call with me. I help successful women who feel lackluster, reconnect with their vitality.