One of the things my clients can find confusing is my work in both counseling and coaching. Not many professionals are formally trained in both. And although coaching and counseling are similar in many ways, there are a few key differences you might want to know about.
Here are the five main questions my clients ask about the difference between the two. There are plenty of other ways the two fields are different, and also ways they overlap. And of course no one rule is completely true for every coach or counselor. I have written in what these differences mean for me, since I have worked with clients in both fields in the past.
Let me know if you have other questions about being (or becoming) a coach or counselor in the comments.
How are therapy and coaching sessions different?
Coaching sessions are more directive, action-oriented. Coaching sessions are often more directive than counseling sessions, with greater input and accountability from the coach. Coaching sessions end with client commitment to action steps, homework, and/or reflection between sessions. Both coaching and counseling sessions include a spirit of empathy and compassion, personal development and skill training. Both coaching and counseling require the commitment of the client to creating change and awareness both in session, and beyond.
- I often use graphic facilitation clients during sessions. Most sessions involve review of action steps and goals, and reflection on barriers to success.
- Sessions are booked in bulk when packages are purchased and run for 60, 90, or 180 minutes (depending on the package purchased).
- Coaching sessions can occur with clients in any state or country (via Skype), and can be held online. I respond to texts from coaching clients any day or time.
- Some coaching sessions are called Intensives, Retreats, or Workshops, and include all day education and skills training.
Counseling sessions can be more reflective, and will include greater family history. Both coaching and counseling sessions include a spirit of empathy and compassion, personal development and skill training. Both coaching and counseling require the commitment of the client to creating change and awareness both in session, and beyond.
- I often use graphic facilitation clients during sessions. Most sessions involve review of goals, weekly highs and lows, and client concerns.
- Sessions are scheduled at the end of each meeting, or over the phone when clients need. Individual appointments usually run for 60 minutes, while couples sessions typically last 90 minutes.
- Counseling sessions are held in person (or on the phone in emergencies) with clients only in the state of Oregon. In case of emergencies clients are directed to call their local crisis line or 911 for support.
How are the foundations of coaching and therapy different?
Coaching tends to be future-focused, change-oriented, and goal or results-driven. Coaching is client-centered, meaning the client identifies the goals and helps build the agenda for meetings. Coaching started in athletics and businesses and has expanded to include personal wellness and life coaching more recently.