Difference between a Counsellor and Coach

Difference between a Counsellor and Coach

Counselling & Coaching are two of the most commonly used modalities today to support people who feel they want to improve their life.

People who are looking for improvement usually have one of two reasons for wanting to change:

1. They are unhappy and are mentally or emotionally distressed due to issues they are suffering in an area of their life.
2. They are happy but are wanting to reach goals and improve/develop further in an area of their life. eg relationship, business, sport etc.
Counselling & Coaching have a lot of similarities and both use psychological theories and modalities to support clients through problems to get to where they want to be.
There are some major differences that set them apart.


Counselling is a therapy, it deals with psychological and emotional personal healing and trauma recovery.

Counselling is for people with some level of dysfunction or disorder.

Counselling is a confidential service between the counsellor and the client where they work together to heal the client’s issues.

Counselling can be a short or long term process depending on the client’s needs.

Counselling concentrates on the past and present issues.

Counsellors are Diploma or Degree trained and have practical or clinic hours as part of their training.

Qualified counsellors are registered with a regulated board or professional body which follow strict codes of ethics and conduct and require supervision, training and development.

Counselling cost around $80-$250/hr and most clients use between 1 and 6 sessions. Some may continue weekly or monthly sessions as required.


Coaching is popular for improvement in personal (life), business or sporting areas of life so I will just use “coaching” as a generalised term for all these areas of coaching.

Coaching focuses on performance improvement and personal and professional or business development.

Coaching is for people who are already functioning healthily and want to improve on what they have already developed.

Coaching takes a present and future focus.

Coaching may be between one or more parties where the coach helps the client develop skills and reach goals, parties may include a boss or teacher or sporting coach who is also invested in the clients goals.

Coaching is usually a time-limited process where both parties meet regularly to achieve an outcome.

Coaches can be qualified or unqualified and may or may not be registered and follow a strict code of conduct that requires professional development or supervision. They may have their experience from many different industries or skill areas, such as  leadership, management, counselling or psychology. Many counsellors do coaching but not all coaches are counsellors. There are slowly more peak bodies forming in the coaching industry as it is growing in popularity and hopefully that means there will be stricter codes of conduct and training and supervision requirements for the safety of clients.

Coaching costs vary from hourly sessions to yearly contracts. Some may charge $80-1500+/hr to a year costing $15 000+.

It is obvious that there are  many differences in these professions and commonly they co-exist. They can often cross over each other at times and techniques or skills are shared between them and benefit clients in many ways. Many counsellors become coaches and many coaches have had experience in counselling.

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