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3 Key Differences Between a Life Coach
& Life Counselor

By Sam Jones

If your life feels out of balance or out of sorts and you become stuck and frustrated, at a certain point you are going to need to ask for professional help.

Very often people make the mistake of thinking that if I can just talk to a friend about it then I will be okay.

Yes, having a network of friends you can share your feelings with and be vulnerable is always helpful. At the very least you will be able to release some of the pressures of whatever is going on. However, your friend is not trained, nor capable of listening to you in a objective and non-biased manner.

No matter how good of a person your friend is, he or she will have a bias and because they are not a counselor or coach, they will tell you whatever they think is right based upon their own objectives. Remember, your friend has their own personal issues as well which means that their judgement is clouded.

This is why you will eventually need to get some professional help if you are serious about healing and transforming your life. When this day comes, you might be a bit confused as to whether or not you should get a life coach or a life counselor.

So what’s the difference?


The main goal of counseling is to help you address issues or trauma from your past. If you have been struggling with problems that stem from your family or childhood that are causing you discomfort, then you are going to need counseling.

Counseling focuses more on your mental health and things that have to do with your emotional well-being. If you feel like you are struggling inside and are angry, frustrated, hurt, sad, depressed, and so on, then you will need life counseling.

On the other hand, coaching is all about helping you move forward in life. Generally speaking, coaching is about goal setting and creating a plan to achieve them. The objective here is to help you figure out what you want from life and then help you move forward by supporting you along the way.


When it comes to the approach of counseling and coaching, they are very different. Counseling requires a great deal of patience where the counselor provides you a safe space to be vulnerable and listen to you express certain feelings from your past.

While coaching is all about you talking about what you want to accomplish in the future and strategizing about what needs to be done to accomplish it. In counseling, the tone and mannerism is much dimmer because of all the heavy emotions. In coaching, the tone is much brighter with a great deal of optimism as you get excited to move your life forward.

Education & Regulation

The counseling and mental health industry is highly regulated. Because some of these practitioners are dealing with pharmaceutical drugs, drug addicts, depression, and major health disorders, these practitioners must be accredited by the state and be held to a higher level of regulation.

While some coaches are accredited, not every person who calls themselves a coach is. In fact, many are not and there are no regulations to stop this. Furthermore, it can take a few months to a year to become a coach while becoming a counselor takes a minimum of two to four years.

While coaching and counseling are different, it is imperative to point out that they can support each other and go hand in hand because the person who is seeking counseling will eventually want to move forward with their life and this is where a coach comes in handy.

Life Coaching—The Complete Guide
WebMDF—Guide to Psychiatry and Counseling

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