“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” – Ben Sweetland


What is counselling?

Counselling is opinions or instructions given in directing the judgment or conduct of the client while at the same time listening to the client. It is a way of relating and responding to the client in order to help them explore, clarify and work towards resolving issues in their life. Counseling tends to look at the past, processing feelings, and attempting to understand why the client is having difficulty with particular issues in their life. It is about helping the client process, understand and resolve these issues in order to live more fully in the present.

Who comes to counselling? Clients come from all walks of life and all occupations; they come both young and old. Clients generally come to counseling when they are having emotional difficulties with a specific issue. Clients coming for counseling see no light at the end of the tunnel. Clients often have bottled up feelings such as anger, grief, anxiety which have become so intense that they need help to process these feelings. Clients come when they suffer from issues like eating disorders or addictions such as alcoholism or smoking. There are others who have experienced abuse; verbal, emotional, physical or sexual in their childhood or as adults Some people may be just unhappy about the way their life is going, some may be experiencing difficulties at work, school or at home. Others may have just learnt about a diagnosis of illness or disability relating to them or those close to them.


A person who gives counsel, and advice. The counselor is almost always considered the expert. The core competencies of counsellors are a genuine acceptance of people without judgement. Most counsellors will have had a substantial education and have a broad knowledge and experience of the issues they counsel on. They are supportive and strive to understand thoughts and feelings from the client’s point of view.

Where does counselling take place? Counselling usually takes place in a safe and confidential setting however these days people are opting for online counseling also.


“Everything can be taken from a man but…the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (p.104Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl)

What is coaching?

The name coaching comes from sport, the title going to the person who has the special task and responsibility for training sports people and teams to achieve peak performance and to win. No team or athlete would consider achieving excellence and winning tournaments without a coach. Coaching is a relatively new profession taking off in the eighties, starting out in a business environment coaching is now widespread and used in every area of a client’s life. In coaching the client is held accountable, it is all about the client’s agenda and the whole process is focused on getting the results the client wants. Coaching begins where the client is now in the present and helps the client setting and achieving their specific goals. Coaching is about improving performance, it is about self awareness and it is about making choices. Coaching is about living more fully in the present with the future in mind.

According to the ICF (international coach Federation), coaching can be defined as “an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life”.

Another definition from the authors of Co-Active coaching “Coaching is chiefly about discovery, awareness and choice. It is a way of effectively empowering people to find their own answers, encouraging and supporting them on a path as they continue to make important choices”

Who comes to coaching?

Clients come from all walks of life and all occupations; they come both young and old. Large corporations down to small businesses come for group coaching. Basically anyone who is seeking solutions, seeking to improve their performance and sometimes reaching for excellence come for coaching. People come because they want things to be different; they are looking for positive constructive change in their lives. They come because they have important goals to reach, goals: to start a new business, to get a new job, to buy a new house, to loose weight. People come to coaching because they want more order and balance in their lives. People come because they want fulfillment, happiness, joy or fun from life. They also come because they want less stress, less confusion or less financial pressures in life.

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” Bob Nelson


The coach is a person with a set of skills they use to support and encourage clients in setting and achieving goals. The coach and client are active collaborators; they form an alliance between two equals. The coach and client design their working relationship. The coach holds the client accountable knowing that the client has the answers or can find the answers. The coach is always responding to the client’s answer aware that every answer provides information where to go next. The coach keeps them moving forward towards their dreams and goals.

The core competencies of a coach are a genuine acceptance of people without judgment focused listening with the client’s agenda in mind. One of the most important qualities of a coach is truthfulness, if clients are going to risk making change, they must feel confident to talk freely with their coach.


Having assessed the difference between coaching and counselling there can be no confusion between the two roles. Coaching and counseling can’t work together effectively. There is an obvious role for counselling and if a client needs counselling a good coach will recommend the client seeks this before proceeding to coaching. The opposite would be great, if at the end of a counselling program a good counselor would then recommend coaching to their client in order that they might have a better quality of life.

Tommy Macken


About The Author:

Tommy is the author / designer of the indirect ’28 days to success’ coaching program. get his Free eBook 28 days to success