Both professional counselling and life coaching involve providing valuable life-changing advice and helping others through difficult times. As the International Coach Federation (ICF) explains, these careers involve “inspiring others to maximize their personal and professional potential.” If you’re interested in pursuing this rewarding work, counselling skills offer invaluable benefits that can truly deepen your life coaching practice.
While counselling and coaching professions go hand in hand, there are several subtle yet important differences between the work of professional life coaches and that of professional counsellors. Read on to discover the ways these streams intersect and diverge, and to learn more about which particular path would be best suited to you.
1. Counselling Resolves Clients’ Pasts, Coaching Transforms Clients’ Futures
According to author and Certified Life Coach Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: “The objective of counselling is to help people address and resolve problems that make them feel bad emotionally, or are impairing their ability to function well.”
These problems may be longstanding or sudden, involving trauma and abuse, addictions, family and relationship problems and more. In this way, counselling work involves resolving clients’ past experiences and helping them to best achieve wellness in the present.
Conversely, life coaching work is usually centred in clients’ present circumstances with a future-focused perspective. In life coach training programs like those at Rhodes Wellness College, students learn to help clients who are functional in the present set clear goals to achieve happier and healthier futures.
“There is a spectrum of need,” says life coach and American Counseling Association member Lynn Mitchell. “Currently, counselling focuses on moving people from a state of dysfunction to one of being functional. But there are many people who are very functional, yet maybe not highly functional or achieving their full potential. Coaching can help, and there is something positive and preventative about it.”
2. Life Coach Training Specializations Vary from Those in Counselling Training
With the right training, students from all walks of life can customize their counselling or life coaching careers to suit their own backgrounds and areas of interest. In general, counselling specializations are appropriate for traditional clinical health and wellness settings while coaching niches are more wide-ranging and adaptable to particular counselling interests and commercial wellness industry needs.
Those who pursue professional counselling courses at training institutions like Rhodes College encounter courses on employment counselling, youth counselling, sexual abuse and trauma counselling, addictions counselling, and family and couples counselling. Students in life coach school at Rhodes take the these courses along with lessons in business management, life skills coaching, and a life coaching work practicum. They put this knowledge and experience to use through a range of popular life coaching niches, including workplace/career success coaching, health and fitness coaching, relationship and dating coaching, spiritual coaching, creativity coaching, and more.
Mitchell compares the work of niche life coaches with services provided by personal trainers, nutritionists or massage therapists who help people with health and wellness concerns in independent, customized coaching capacities.
3. Graduates of Life Coach School & Counselling School Enjoy Different Workplace Environments
After graduating from their respective training programs, students of life coaching and students of counselling training can be found in a diverse range of professional workplaces. While many of these graduates pursue similar or related employment opportunities, there are a few distinctions regarding which kinds of professionals are hired where.
Professional counselling diploma students are employed by government-run and not-for-profit community support centres, schools and youth centres, and health and wellness agencies. They usually work in office environments or visit clients in their homes.
Life coaching graduates are often hired by coaching agencies, private businesses, and independent clients on a freelance basis. They often open their own professional coaching practices, and are free to meet with clients on their own terms in locations they feel are appropriate for the work at hand. At Rhodes College, all diploma programs include both Counselling and Coaching training, giving students the option to decide where they most fit. Most Coaches also provide counselling and most Counsellors provide coaching as part of their services.
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