Coaching vs Counselling or Consulting: What is the Difference?

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'Coaching vs Counselling or Consulting'

What is Coaching? Is Coaching like counselling? I’m a certified counsellor, so can I also say I’m a coach? I run my consultancy firm so if someone comes to me for coaching, can I also do the same. Being an HR Professional my job is to deal with all people related issues, so that means, I’m a coach.
These are few of the common questions, that I often get to hear from people who may have heard coaching but might not be clear about the art and science of coaching.

Coaching is generally confused with many other psychosocial professions like counselling, consulting, mentoring., training, motivational speaking, clinical psychology or neurology too. Well, largely the cause of difference is because all these interventions are primarily associated with helping people, solving problems, understanding human psyche, being functional, learning, growing and moving forward in life. Although coaching revolves around the same concepts, yet it is unique in its concept, path, process, focus, purpose and outcome. Coaching is not transactional but completely transformational. A professional coach helps the client to become more capable to solve their own problems.

Coaching V/s Counselling

To begin with Counselling is largely about solving problems, whereas coaching is all about reaching a greater potential. Counselling is mainly about exploring about past and working in accordance, yet coaching is about being present and focused on future instead of past problems, pains, pathologies, histories and things that have already happened. If counselling is about healing, coaching is about growth. Counselling helps to overcome weaknesses and coaching focuses on building strengths. Counseling is more formal as compared to coaching that is more relaxed as it’s based on the prime principle of equal partnership between coach and coachee.

Coaching V/s Consulting

Let’s focus next on Consulting. Again, both coaching and consulting are related professions but widely differ on the focus, type of expertise, agenda and process. Primarily coaching helps individuals to become better version of themselves and consulting is focused on providing businesses with the expertise that they lack. Coaching is a self-development tool and consulting is more about being subject matter specialists. Being an expert consultants identify the problems in the business scenarios and then offer solutions in accordance. Coach helps the client to identify their own answers and these are those answers that work the best for the clients. A coach builds the capacity instead of solving problems.

Coaching V/s Mentoring

Another interesting area to explore is Mentoring. It appears that coaching and mentoring are exclusive on the same continuum but each on the either side. Mentoring is completely directive wherein an experienced expert shares their knowledge, expertise, skills, experience with their mentees and handholds them throughout the direction. Whereas coaching is completely non-directive. It allows the coachee to find and design their goals and agendas including the plan of action that they want to work on. Coaching is a relationship of equals. It’s all about Partnering with the clients, wherein the coach is not expected to be expert of client’s life.


To put all the interventions together, let’s put them in the following framework for easy understanding. This model gives us a quick comprehensive look at how different psychosocial processes work. When we focus on asking about problems, it leads to counseling and therapy wherein we can get into the past and help the client. Consulting as we had discussed above comes in to a space wherein the consultants act as subject matter experts and can help to identify the problems and also give the required solutions.

Coaching Vs Mentoring Vs Consulting Vs counselling - ICF Coaching Education

I hope this article gives you the clarity to distinguish between professional coaching and other psychosocial interventions, especially when you wear more than one hat of profession!

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