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Counseling or Coaching - What's the Difference?

The differences between counseling and coaching services can be confusing. Both allied health professionals work with patients to empower and enable forward movement toward a more positive life experience. Both serve as a guide and ask for input and perspective rather than giving advice and telling patients what to do.

The main difference is based on where a patient's focus needs to be in order to live fully present and to thrive - either on healing or on growing to reach one's full potential. If a patient has a wound, pain, or hurt that aches whenever anyone pokes it or that is invasive enough to affect daily functioning (dark thoughts, PTSD, compulsive behaviors, as examples), then counseling may be the better fit. Patients focused on setting goals or changing lifestyle in order to build healthier life patterns and/or meet medically prescribed outcomes (losing weight, increasing whole foods, increasing exercise, as examples) in an effort to reach optimal health and wellness may be better suited with a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach trained in Functional Nutrition. Many people start with counseling and move to coaching, but this dynamic is very fluid and patients may be referred from a NBC-HWC to a LMHC in the event the patient's needs become 'out-of-scope' for the health and wellness coach and more in-line with mental health. Collaborative care can be the key to patient success both mentally and physically and takes into consideration the whole person healing approach to care.

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