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Counseling Versus Coaching

Let’s take a short look at some elements that I think distinguish between these two very deserving, and hopefully cooperative helping endeavors. Please note: this list is not an exhaustive one.

Professional Counseling

1. Examination of the ‘Past’

2. Developmental Issues

3. Importance of Emotions

4. Understanding/Insight

5. Patient – Client Interactions

6. Diagnosis

Life Coaching

1. Present Focused

2. Goals and Objectives

3. Motivation/Solutions & Strategies

4. Focus on Individual

5. Collegial – Client Interactions

6. Life/Career Path & Strengths


There are seasons and phases in our lives you might do best with counseling at one time and with coaching at another. If the need is for emotional healing or to get through a time of feeling overwhelmed, depressed, confused or very anxious, counseling might be the best option. Almost everyone has a time in life when he or she feels one or more of these emotions. If you are mainly dealing with overcoming difficult memories or traumatic events in your past, counseling is designed to deal with those issues. If you are feeling impaired in your work, relationships or emotional life, your present need seems to be just to cope, or if you are "in survival mode," counseling may be called for.


On the other hand, if your present focus is oriented toward the future and the need is to design and implement goals, develop strategies, achieve a more balanced and better quality of life, coaching may be the best option. If you feel in a frame of mind to make decisions and move ahead (though perhaps not being sure what decisions to make or which direction to move), coaching is an excellent way to get focused and begin to get traction - or to increase your momentum toward a goal you have already been pursuing. Coaching can be a way for you to define your values, identify your strengths, and jumpstart your creativity.

If you are wondering whether to pursue counseling or coaching these are some guidelines to help you make the decision. It is not a matter of one professional service being better than the other in a global sense, but of which one best fits your immediate present circumstances, needs and goals. Sometimes some people receive both simultaneously. Whereas some professional service providers offer only one modality or the other, Judith Rapley is able to provide both - and values both very highly!


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