Do you mistakenly believe that counseling and life coaching are one in the same? This couldn’t be further from the truth, but it is a common misconception that many people share. In reality, the two couldn’t be more different. Counseling and life coaching address different problems and they also take unique approaches to those problems. I’ll tell you about the differences below.

Focuses on Different Things

One of the biggest differences between coaching and counseling is that fact that they focus on entirely different things. A counselor will attempt to delve into the client’s past to find out what is causing current emotions and feelings. Therefore, counseling focuses intently on the patient’s emotions. Coaching is far different. Coaching takes a go-getter mindset. It focuses more on taking action and getting results. A counselor would probably sit down with you and discuss your past. A life coach will discuss your current problems and help you come with a plan to overcome those problems.

Counseling Is More Medically Oriented

Counselors almost always follow the same routine, which they’ve learned in college. The standards are to stick with a medical model. The counselor immediately believes that the client has a problem that needs to be treated in order to make recovery possible. This is true for pretty much any type of counseling, including drug, alcohol and psychological abuse. To address these problems, the counselor will often dig into the past to get to the underlying problems.

Asking Different Questions

Another thing to note is that counselors and life coaches will always ask different questions. Counselors are always attempting to find out why the patient is experiencing certain emotions. They want to get to the underlying problem, which is always something from the past. On the other hand, life coaches will ask how and what. Why is only asked when the coach is attempting to gain more insight into the current situation.

Different Goals

It should also be known that life coaches and counselors have different goals in mind. Counselors want to help patients deal with past trauma and alleviate their current emotion or pain. Life coaches are there to empower the client. They want the client to develop new skills and tools that will make them far more successful in the future. The counselor has a singular goal of helping the client overcome their emotional stress, whereas a coach may have a wide range of goals. Those goals could include physical, mental and even financial improvement.

Progression Rate

Counselors and coaches will reach goals at different rates. Counseling is often slow and tedious since the issues are usually fundamental and subconscious. Coaches are capable of providing the client with guidance that can deliver rapid results. Working with a coach will always be more enjoyable since the client will be able to see the impact along the way.

Future-Based Services

Unlike counseling, life coaching focuses mainly on the future. In order to overcome emotional issues, people must focus on past events that caused the negative emotions. And, this is exactly what counseling can do for individuals experiencing such issues. Life coaching, on the other hand, takes an entirely different direction, as it focuses primarily on the future.

Life coaches focus on their clients’ personal and business needs, including both their professional and personal life. In fact, life coaches are described as having the ability to “view things from afar.” They can shed light on some of the most difficult situations, help people sharpen their skills, provide motivation when needed and act as a sounding board.

Executing Futuristic Plans

Setting goals are only part of the solution. Creating a futuristic plan to work toward these goals will be key to success. This is where a life coach will come into play, because they provide motivation, giving a nudge whenever needed to ensure you meet your goals. Life coaches must maintain continuous contact with their clients. In fact, face-to-face meetings two to three times a week is recommended. During these meetings, the life coach will urge their clients to execute their futuristic plans and make alterations wherever needed.

Counseling Improves Emotional Well-Being And Stress

Counseling is much different than life coaching because of the emotional aspect of the whole situation. Counselors are often times dealing with clients and patients that have experienced past traumas that are affecting their present emotional wellbeing. For instance, maybe someone was robbed at gunpoint or sexually harassed in the past and the fear of that situation is affecting everything they do today. Counseling is a specialized therapy that is aimed at helping certain individuals deal with and get the emotions in check, so they can go about living a normal life.

Life Coaches Work With Competent Individuals

One aspect that makes life coaching different than counseling is that you will be dealing with competent individuals. Life coaches provide insight and advice to individuals that already have a handle and control over their own lives. Life coaches aren’t designed to provide emotional support and diagnose sicknesses. They are only there to give you the advice and support that you need to better yourself.

 

This question originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. 

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