By: Terry C.
Because I’m a licensed counselor and one of the developers of Journey Coaching, people often ask me, “What is the difference between coaching and counseling?” Just asking that question implies that there are a lot of similarities, enough to cause considerable confusion. Both are highly relational. Both work to bring insight and perspective to another’s life, and both coaches and counselors have a wide variety of experience to draw on.
Since I’ve done both, I will try to explain the differences here. When I am in the counseling office, I am usually focused on helping someone heal. It may be from past or present emotional wounds, mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, difficult or broken relationships, or other life crisis and we work together to bring about healing. Coaching, on the other hand, is focused primarily on growth in one or more areas of a person’s life, usually at a time and place in their life where they are emotionally healthy enough for forward growth.
Because the needs of the individuals they are working with are greater, professional counselors have a minimum of a Master’s degree in counseling or social work and are typically licensed by the state or states they practice in. Counseling can be rather expensive and is often covered by insurance.
As you might imagine, coaching is much more informal. There are a few training and certification options for someone who is interested in a coaching career where they work for a school or business, and earn a salary or charge for their services. On the other hand, a lot of peer-to-peer coaching is actually done on a volunteer basis and often spontaneous. For instance, you might go to a neighbor who is good at woodworking to ask him or her for advice on a project you are doing or you might consult a friend to coach you on your golf swing.
Journey Coaching is also peer-to-peer, but rather than a golf swing coach, Journey coaches are more like a “you” coach. What this means is that as you go through the Journey process your coach will help you identify your unique qualities. From helping you make sense of your own story, to identifying your strengths, growth areas, world view, and goals in life, your coach will help you identify the unique way that you fit into this world. Journey helps you look at the whole you: body, mind and soul. The Journey workbook was designed from a basic Christian worldview perspective, giving you an opportunity if you would like to reflect on how your own story might fit into God’s larger story.
Journey coaches are not career coaches. They are volunteers who have usually been through their own coaching process and are interested in helping others begin to grow more in understanding of themselves and the world around them. The goal for Journey Coaching is for people to grow to know themselves better, and to grow in healthy relationships with others as they do this.
Hopefully this clarifies the differences for you between coaching and counseling, and also helps you better understand the specific focus of Journey Coaching. Information on how you can become involved with Journey through coaching or being coached: contact Terry@JourneyCoaching.org.