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What's the Difference Between Coaching and Counseling?

Updated: Apr 9

Are coaching and counseling basically the same?

If not, what makes them different?

Which is the best fit for me?

If any of these questions are rolling around in your mind, I’ve got you!

Understanding the difference between counseling and coaching can be much more simple than you might think.

Let’s dive in!


So in a nutshell, counseling is focused on the past, and healing trauma.

Coaching, however, looks forward towards the future and possibilities.

Coaching includes clear action steps and goal setting. If we do look to the past during your coaching session, its purpose is to reference lessons learned and consider how to apply them moving forward.

Christian coaching takes you from where you are to where God wants you to be.

I like to say that coaching is kind of like using a GPS. It gets you to your destination more quickly and with less headache than would otherwise be the case.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”


And to add onto that- know there’s consulting and mentoring to consider, too - which are both different from counseling and coaching.

Consulting is about telling and providing advice on what to do and not to do. It usually involves an expert or specialist on a specific topic who creates action plans to be implemented.

Mentoring involves subject matter experts who share specifics on how they achieved success. Mentors use their knowledge and experience to teach others who are a few steps behind where they are.

Coaching is a bit different from consulting and mentoring in that it is more about empowerment & discovery so that you might confidently move forward in your healthy decision making, rather than instructing, 'telling,' or advice giving.

Coaching may be for you if you:

  • Get excited about what 'could be.'

  • You are in a healthy place but would like to move forward.

  • You are hungry for action steps that will move you forward.

Counseling may be for you if:

  • You often find yourself stuck, consumed by pain from the past and are having difficulty moving forward because of it.

  • You crave healing so that you can operate from a healthier place

I hope this article gives you a bit more clarity on the differences between counseling and coaching as well as consulting and mentoring. Praying you are more clear on what’s the best next step for you.

Want to learn even more? Check out these resources!

Feeling prompted to pursue coaching? Let’s talk! We can meet for 45 minutes over a complimentary clarity call to give you a taste of what Christian coaching specifically is all about and give you the chance to learn what it’d be like to have your very own Christian life coach. Can’t wait to meet you.

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