August 12

3 Distinctions between Life Coaching, Consulting, and Counseling

Differences between Life Coaching, Consulting, and Counseling?

1.The Roles are Different

The Role of a Life Coach

  • Coaching is about moving the client from where they are to where they want to be.
  • A client comes to a coach to change, enhance or improve some area of their life, e.g., to lose weight, change jobs, improve a relationship, have better life balance.
  • The coach then establishes outcomes the client wishes to achieve, asks powerful questions, develops a plan, and helps the client be accountable to achieve that plan.
  • Coaching does not focus on the past and what happened previously in one’s life. Rather, it focuses on the present and helping people move from this point forward.
  • Coaching is about empowering the person and trusting they have the answers within them.

The Role of a Consultant

Consulting is about advising, giving suggestions and/or information to your client. Unlike coaching, the consultant tells the client what to do, rather than guiding them to find their own answers. A Life Coach can give advice occasionally, but it is not the primary role of a coach.

If someone has a professional area of expertise, they can sell consulting in that area to their client as well as having a separate Life Coaching business.

The Role of a Counselor of Psychotherapist

Counseling, or psychotherapy, is about healing deep emotional issues, usually arising from the past. Perhaps someone had a difficult childhood or experienced abuse or trauma or is in the thick of an addiction. Others may experience mental illness, such as being bi-polar, having an anxiety disorder, or chronic depression.

Most people have situational anxiety or depression from a life event (like coping with Covid) but what determines the need for a therapist is the severity and length of the problem as well as their level of functioning in their day to day.

Functioning means being able to accomplish simple daily tasks, such as working, eating, sleeping, concentrating, showering, etc. If a client is not functioning then a psychotherapist or counselor is best suited to work with that client.

Chronic and negative relationship patterns are also best addressed by a therapist. There are many situations then that require a psychotherapist or counselor rather than a coach.

2.  A Coach, Consultant , and Counselor or Psychotherapist can do more than one role but not always all the roles.

 A Coach can provide some consulting and present suggestions from time to time. A Consultant and a Counselor or Therapist can provide some coaching as a part of what they do.  A counselor or psychotherapist can also provide some consulting.  Neither a Life Coach or a Consultant though can provide Counseling or Psychotherapy.  The laws and ethics surrounding Counseling and Psychotherapy are very strict.  It is essential that a Life Coach and Con

sultant do not cross the lines into therapy.

That’s one reason if you are considering becoming a Life Coach that you obtain a professional Life Coach Certification and an ICF credential.  These ensures you know where there those lines are and can refer when necessary.  It also ensures you have the necessary training to be able to handle a variety of situations that come up around client’s emotions, difficult situations in their lives, and ways they cope those challenges.

3.They all get results but outcomes vary.

Coaching is focused on getting the clients to move forward and achieve results in each session The coach commits to action steps each week and is held accountable to achieve those action steps. Progress happens each session so the client continues to get results consistently throughout the coaching process.

Counseling can gets results but usually they take usually take longer to achieve.  The primary driver in therapy is healing and awareness, and any solutions that come from there. As a result, the client’s progress is a deep process but usually takes take longer to see results than in coaching or consulting. With some difficult mental health conditions they may be no or next to no progress.

Fern Gorin
Fern Gorin PCC

Consultants suggest results that will meet the client’s needs; however, it is usually left to the client to implement these changes. Therefore, the outcome can be inconsistent depending on the client’s initiative.

All these professions are valuable and help clients succeed. The key is choosing the right professional for the task.

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Consulting, Counseling, Life Coaching

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