The Difference Between Counselling and Coaching
By Nathalie Himmelrich
Nowadays most people take the advantage of supporting themselves with the help of a
counsellor, coach or therapist through the challenges life throws at them at some stage. For
people new to the field of self-development the question ‘What is the difference between a
counsellor and coach?’ comes up often. Lets find some distinctions that might be helpful to you.
Counselling is the modality to heal yourself, to find closure for things that happened in your past,
to come to see things from a healthier perspective, to learn to let go of grudges and resentment
and to build up ego strength. Counselling often works as a ‘talking therapy’ as research has
found that expressing emotions helps to digest them. A counsellor acts as a professional friend
in whom you can confide your innermost thoughts. They will listen attentively and hold no
judgment over your opinions or ideas. Most counsellors will refrain from giving you advice but
help you find your own way, clarify the issues, bring understanding and wider perspective and
support you in making your own wise decisions. Counselling mostly focuses on clearing past
Coaching is the modality to go forward, to plan for the future you want to create, bring action to
goal setting and eliminate any obstacles that might be in the way to reach you goals. Coaching
involves full commitment to make the changes that will bring you closer to your desired
outcome. A coach will also listen attentively and ask you powerful questions. Coaching is for
people that have enough ego strength to take action. Coaching is mostly focused on creating a
desired future outcome and is only involving past issues if they are important for the future
What style of sessions do I need?
Ask yourself the following questions to find out whether you want to look for a counsellor or for a
1…. dealing with issues at work, including relationship issues with your boss and co-worker?
2…. wanting to change jobs and don’t know what to do next?
3…. looking for a new partner?
4…. searching for your passion in life and how to incorporate it into your life?
5…. unsure how to be a better communicator in work and private relationships?
6…. looking for the next step in your career and how to get there?
7…. planning to start working again after having been a ‘stay-at-home’ mum?
If you have answered yes to one or many of the questions 1 – 7, you are most likely looking for a
8…. getting over a separation or marriage break-down?
9…. still very angry or frustrated with your parents and want to get over those feeling to create
better relationships with them?
10…. dealing with fear and anxiety that you think might stem from past trauma?
11…. working through grief due to loss of someone close, like your parent, partner or child?
12…. dealing with reoccurring relationship difficulties in your life?
13…. having a hard time with your teenage daughter or son?
14…. not sure whether you want to stay in a relationship or leave?
If you have answered yes to one or many of the questions 8 – 14 you are most likely looking for
Remember that whether you are seeing a counsellor or coach you need at least 2-3 sessions to
get a sense of how they are working and to find out whether you feel comfortable with them and