The Difference Between Counseling & Coaching and Why The Pair is so Transformative

Prior to becoming a counselor and coach, I spent ten years in various HR/ GM leadership roles with Target Corp. My favorite part of the job was leading such a large and diverse team and being heavily involved in the professional development of the leaders across the district and group. Target really invests in their team and the training/ development experience I received built a solid foundation for my coaching practice, both to work with individuals and companies/ teams.

In my time at Target, however, I became aware of how our personal and professional lives are so interrelated. We can’t focus on one without the other and there are good reasons why people perform the way they do at work. With the desire to better understand human experience, the psyche and how it relates to our personal and professional worlds, I went back to school to obtain my M.A. in Counseling Psychology. While in school I worked with a local interior design firm in Denver, Studio 10 Interior Design, owned a run by a young fabulous female entrepreneur, where I gained even more experience, this time in the small business realm.

I get asked quite often what is the difference between counseling and coaching and why don’t you narrow down your services to better market yourself? The reason being is because I believe I can truly help folks more effectively by pairing the two together.

What might be getting in our way of reaching our best potential, or creating the life we have always wanted is old rules and old tapes we play and buy into. For example if you believe that as a woman there is a glass ceiling, or that you will never amount to much because your critical mother says so, that unconscious and conscious conditioning very much affects how we operate today. Sometimes we are aware of it, and sometimes we are not.

By taking a look at our past and what influences were upon us, we can create new rules, and use our core energy to achieve greater heights. By removing the psychological obstacles getting in our way, we pave a new path to the life we create. And when combined with a coach who guides you to set achievable goals, holds you accountable to those goals, and calls out when the gremlins are showing up and preventing you from reaching your potential, I have seen amazingly transformative things happen in clients.

So, the truth is, there are a lot of similarities between counseling and coaching. It’s a safe and trusting relationship where vulnerability and real growth can take place. Its confidential and inspiring. It forces you into your comfort zone and allows time to process, plan, and create new outcomes. It’s an alliance built between two people that addresses both what is getting in the way of being who we are supposed to be, as well as building plans to get there.

The difference is, with the counseling background, we can spend more time on the psychological component. We might address those gremlins longer. We can address the anxiety/ depression/ inner critic more effectively. Who in the workplace would benefit from an accountability partner for their goals, who can also help you build healthy coping skills for stress, overwhelm, self-esteem issues or conflict? We can dig into how you relate to others and how to best navigate the emotional client. We can reconnect you to your values, strengths, and purpose, all while dealing with fear, loss, and heartbreak that comes up along the way. We can work on getting you out of your head and INTO YOUR LIFE. We can celebrate the wins and examine the failures, while addressing the feelings attached and what we tell ourselves when we do both.

Although this is only a brief description and comparison, one thing has become more and more clear to me – I believe that a combination of coaching and counseling provides two services that honors and supports the whole person. My goal is to simply be the guide to your growth, and to help you reach your fullest potential in all areas of your life – love, career, health, wealth, life transition and more.

Here is an exercise to help you begin to identify your “old rules” and gremlins.

Identifying Gremlins Exercise:

Take a few moments to write out on a sheet of paper some of the “rules” you live by. What influences did you have growing up and what did they tell you? What rules did you pick up from media, from your family, friends, school or church? That you could only be this and do that? That you should be a good girl or boy? That you should look, act, behave a certain way or follow in your fathers footsteps in your career? That you’re not worthy enough to live in abundance?

And when you try to break free of those rules, what do you tell yourself and how do you feel (there, that’s where the gremlins show up!) Perhaps fear, anxiety, worry, or shame appear.

Now, go back through those rules and question them. Are they serving in your best interest? Are they keeping you safe or helping you thrive? Are they authentic to who you really are?

Sit on this for a week or so and revisit again later, and perhaps begin to consider what your new rules might be. Or how you want to relate to your gremlins. This is a very brief taste of one component coaching and counseling will dig into to help you reach your fullest potential.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from the counseling and coaching services, please pass my information along to them.

Cheers to LIVING IN ABUNDANCE and creating the life you deserve.


Brooke Jean, M.A.

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