I get asked a lot “How do I know if I need a Coach or a Counsellor?” so I amTHRILLED to share this helpful article I discovered floating amongst my coaching colleagues this week. I hope it helps, if you were wondering too!

The below was taken from “Counselor, Mentor or Life Coach?” posted by GrowTogether (to read entire article)

“My mission for this article is to break this misconception by explaining the difference between counseling, mentoring and life coaching.Ready? Alright, let’s start with counseling…

life coaching, counseling, mentoring
life coaching, counseling, mentoring


Dictionary definition is a trained person that gives:

  • guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems: e.g: a marriage counselor
  • advices on a specified subject: e.g: a debt counselor

When you consult a counselor, you are looking for advice. They will work with you on your life problems and get you on your way to healing because they have the credentials and training to assist you in this process by diagnosing your case. Counseling and coaching get confused because they ARE similar.  Even if both of those professionals want to see you take action to reach your outcome, they support you through this development with different techniques and tools.

Behavior and emotion observation is an important skill and frame-work used by a counselor to support the client. Even if they are helping them pursue their goal, most of the time they are more focused on the past and problems of the client than the future or solutions oriented. This is the biggest difference between life coaching and counseling, meaning that a counselor has the qualifications to work with aspects of the client’s psychology. If you are in crisis or trauma (depression, emotional trauma, substance dependence), a counselor will be at the right place to have the assistance you need.

life coaching, mentoring, counseling

life coaching, mentoring, counseling


Dictionary definition is an experienced and trusted adviser.

When you want to consult a mentor, you are looking forward to learning about his or her life experience and gaining advice from them as an expert. For example, you want to open your first restaurant, and you need some guidance with your project because you never dealt with those responsibilities before. You can then learn from his experience, ask him all the questions that you want about it and observe his expertise. He can share with you all his wisdom and knowledge on the subject. Your mentor has the solution for you because he is the one with all the information and skills that you need. While a life coach has a focus on your personal development (individual), a mentor focuses on skills and expertise. Even if both of those experts want you to develop your best self at your highest potential, different techniques will be involved. If you are looking forward to gaining knowledge, understanding and skills for yourself, a mentor is your key!

life coaching, mentoring, counseling
life coaching, mentoring, counseling

Life Coach

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as a thought-provoking and creative partnership / process that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential.

The Coaches Training Institute (largest in-person coach training school in the world) defines the role of coach to ask powerful questions, listen and empower to elicit the skills and creativity a client already possesses, rather than instruct or advise¨.

Everywhere you look today, people qualify themselves as coaches, even if they don’t have any certification. I decided to give you the two definitions above because when I looked into online dictionaries, I didn’t like that ¨advice¨ is used in their description. You see, a life coach truly believes that you already have all the resources you need to achieve your outcome. A coach won’t tell you what to do, or how to do it – no advice is given; all the possibilities will come from you.

A coaches role is to hold you capable and accountable to achieve your results. As soon as the coaching session starts, you are in the driver’s seat ready to work with your agenda, not the coach’s agenda. Your coach will be there for you, listening deeply and with curiosity, to what you truly want to talk about. Using powerful questions, your coach will support you 100% without any judgments, only with the desire to see you grow. A professional coach will help you move beyond your current perceived limits. If you get scared about the changes in front of you, a good coach will tell you to hang in there and trust the process. Your coach will support you in dealing with the part of you that sabotages your dreams and will be there to help you recognize those saboteurs and move beyond it. Your coach will push you toward your goals like no one else can because all the energy you create together remains focused on you only.

The payoff of this path is extraordinary: you will find peace, confidence, joy, balance, happiness, and accomplishment. You will undoubtedly discover that you are the creator of your life, and your happiness will be the mirror of your life choices. Getting to that beautiful harmony won’t be easy; you will need to be determined! Your coach will assist you in those moments when you are struggling, and you will have the help around you to stay on the track you honestly want to be on. As you go along this path, you will meet some of your fears, and with your coach you will learn to control, laugh about or destroy them. Growth happens when you risk success and failure. As a child, you learn to walk by falling down; you will go through that process more than once in your life.

The main point to remember about coaching is that it’s a present, solution and aneutral  approach (no advice).”


Hopefully, with a clearer understanding of these three valuable professions, you can make up your own mind about which makes the most sense to you.

With great love and respect, Keri-Anne