Coaches and counsellors both focus on helping people and make use of similar interpersonal communication skills. They are loosely connected, such that sometimes their relationship is compared to that of stepsiblings. Although they both offer services intended to enable people and companies to achieve their full potential, their roles are different.
There are a variety of approaches used within counselling and coaching. Thus, there are general distinctions which are helpful in understanding how these two approaches typically vary.
5 Differences between Counselling and Coaching
A primary difference between the two is focus. Counselling concentrates on the person’s past and deals with healing emotional pain. It is therefore geared towards understanding and resolving the past. Thereby, helping someone move forward and be able to reach their individual potential in life.
Coaching focuses on the present and the future. Such that it helps an individual identify goals, set them and plan a way to achieve them through actionable strategies. Coaching aims to leverage personal strengths to maximise potential. This can be on a personal or professional level. Thus, the focus within a coaching relationship is on goals, strategizing, action and accountability.
Both counselling and coaching aim to build a person’s self and other awareness. However, the foundational basis for doing this differs
Counselling is rooted in a clinical approach. This is focused on healing. The aim of counselling it to ultimately resolve old pain and improve emotional states. And thereby enable someone to have a more successful future.
Coaching is more learning and development based. It focuses on attainable current and future goals. The aim of coaching is to help clients in their self-development. This is done through understanding inherent strengths and weaknesses as well as upskilling. Which is specifically focused on building a more satisfying, successful future.
Within a counselling context, the aim is for the client to be accountable for their feelings and emotions. In most types of therapy, change is often identified on a more internal than external level.
However, coaching goals are similar to business goals. They are often related to one’s external world and one’s behaviour in it and are based on measurable outcomes. Clients are therefore held accountable for their actions, as specifically linked to strategies designed to achieve their self-identified goals.
The relationship between client and counsellor/coach share similarities. Both counsellor and coach offer perspectives and assist the individual to discover his or her own answers. How this works out practically differs.
A counsellor helps a client to understand and see aspects of their life more clearly. As part of this process, they often provide advice and guidelines to provide a path to healing.
Coaching can be described as more of a co-creative partnership. A coach is a thinking partner who, together with the client, helps identify challenges. Then holds a client accountable, while supporting them to turn these challenges into victories to achieve identified goals.
Finally, there are distinct differences when it comes to the training required for the counselling and coaching professions.
After initial broader qualifications are achieved, counsellors require extensive expertise in the subject matter of the therapy they focus on. For example: marital counselling, addiction counselling, dealing with trauma and types of abuse.
In contrast, coaches are more process orientated. They therefore do not necessarily require extensive subject-matter expertise. They are process experts that know how to create the exact learning environment needed for an individual client. Such that a client can draw on their own experience, resources and activate their potential within their unique contexts. That said, however, specialist training can be a great way for a coach to advantage themselves. Business, training, leadership or a psychology background can deeply enhance the coaching process. This is because coaches can utilise this experience towards a greater understanding and knowledge of the client’s strengths and weaknesses.
Qualifying as a Coach
SACAP offers a series of entry-point courses in both counselling and coaching. In these courses, students can obtain ‘work-ready’ practical training or acquire further qualifications in their field.
Coaching courses at SACAP are accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and aligned with COMENSA. They offer students the advantage of an excellent coaching qualification, rooted in key concepts from Applied Psychology. Additionally, coaching courses include being coached around personal and professional development as related to concepts being learnt. Thereby, students receive customised feedback in the practical application of fundamental coaching competencies. This all results in SACAP graduating coaches having practical experience of theoretical coaching approaches. As well as a deeper psychological understanding of how, why and what drives their client’s ambition and underpins their challenges. For more information on how to start becoming a coach, enquire now.
1. What are five differences between counselling and coaching?
Counselling and coaching differ in their focus, foundational basis, relationship with clients, accountability frameworks and what training is required to practice.
2. Why would you need a counsellor?
Counsellors deal with past pain and experiences which impact how someone interacts within their current life context. Counsellor’s aim is for clients to understand, heal and resolve the past, so that they can move forward and better succeed in life.
3. Why would you need a coach?
A coach is present and future focused. They assist clients to attain goals by identifying them and creating strategies to achieve them. Thereafter they support and encourage a client, while holding them accountable for their progress and actions.