While all people could benefit from both counseling and coaching at some point in their lives, it is helpful to understand the differences between the two types of talk therapy in order to understand which tool would most benefit you right now.
Based on my own experience and according to multiple sources one of the most significant differences between counseling and coaching is the time frame on which each focus. Counseling is often times best in order to revisit one’s past and finding healing from his or her wounds. Many people suffer from habits and beliefs that commonly result from issues in a client’s childhood or early adult life. The way that many people cope with disorders, stressors, anxiety, depression, and grief depends on the individual, and the ways in which people react is just as varied, including anger, frustration, avoidance, unhealthy eating and other coping tactics. The goal of Counseling is for clients to recover from their past wounds and move towards a lifestyle of healing, finding freedom from their pain.
Coaching is a helpful method that looks toward the future. Coaching is for people who desire to see improvement and beneficial change in their lives, rather than for people seeking to explore and healing from the past. Utilizing intense accountability and motivation coaching looks forward and asks the question, “How can we improve your lifestyle and meet your specific goals?” Reasons one may seek coaching include help in the business world, growth in relationships, and reaching one’s potential from a wellness standpoint. Coaching can be conducted on countless different topics, but the focus is toward the future and the goals clients have set.
In a nutshell, counseling and coaching focus on two different time frames – counseling looks at the past while coaching looks at the future. Ultimately, both tools focus on how to improve your present experience and live your best life.