Coaching vs Counseling – Whats The Difference?

by Self-Care Tips

How to Avoid Feeling BURNT OUT Around the Holidays

A lot of people ask me about the difference between coaching and counseling, and yes they are indeed different. I firmly believe that you can use both in conjunction with each other to better your life.

I am also a counselor in training (meaning I am in my Master’s program for Counseling and see clients in an internship capacity right now) AND I coach clients. 

Another note: I tend to coach clients who are anxious, high achieving, perfectionists – so some may be like – so is that not counseling?

No it is not. 

Okay so I will get real with you today on the difference…in my own terms not in science terms.


Mental Health practitioners – they work with you to combat any problems and “dysfunction” that may be arising due to a mental health disorder. Now, I tend to view a severity scale. Not to say that coaches cannot support you, but I firmly believe that when you are truly struggling with severe anxiety and depression etc, you should seek mental health support from a psychologist or counselor. 

I am a “baby counselor” what I mean by that is I am a counselor in training whom studies at northwestern for my masters AND sees clients in an internship capacity. This coaching container I discuss here and my role as a coach is DIFFERENT Than that. So, if I say I am seeing clients, it could be as a counselor or as a coach.

Of course, the skills I learn in one influence the other – but largely they are different approaches and techniques. In my counseling capacity, I am taking an active listening and client steer the ship type of approach. I am learning from my supervisor and clinical team on how to best support a person; I am working in the parameters of the DSM-5, and I am helping clients relieve some pressure they feel from these long term or acute mental health struggles. 

Of course, before I move into coaching, my tactics and techniques of active listening and engagement influence my coaching. 

In my personal life, I have seen MANY therapists before, and all worked with me when I was feeling my worst. They helped me really work through the more challenging aspects of what I was going through.


This shifts me into coaching. I am a coach as well as the counselor in training. Coaching, not counseling, is what I do here. However, like I said, some of my coach-skills influence my counseling and vice versa. 

Coaching, the way I utilize it, is a more active, directive, goal-driven approach, and you buy a SPECIFIC coach for a SPECIFIC reason. So, while all counselors share that mission to promote mental wellbeing, advocacy, etc, and that may specialize in certain populations, all counselors learn to work with all different types of problem-sets. 

That is not true of coaching. You do not hire a coach to solve all types of things you come in with. You get really specific and find someone for your specific ask. 

There are life coaches in general; those most closely resemble counselors, but then there are business coaches. You would not hire a business coach for mental health. You would talk to them about running your biz. You could even find different types of biz coaches – mindset (focusing on your limiting beliefs) or strategic (helping you set up processes).

There are health coaches in the physical space to help you workout – your CPTs of the world; and some of those are nutrition coaches where they can talk through nutrition, not supply plans like registered dieticians, but can support you in goal setting with that.

Then there are alternative coaches who do some intuitive type stuff or meditation type stuff or body empowerment type stuff…. You name it – there is a coach for it. This means that when you invest in a coach, you are like: I am looking to get better at  say… routines and I need someone who can help me fix my calendar, organize, my day, and plan better. I will hire a routine coach. 

Note: for both counseling and coaching – EVERY PERSON IS UNIQUE.

We all have unique styles and approaches. So, even though counseling has a universal mission, one counselor might be more chatty and one may be more quiet. Same with coaches, only it is more explicit. One business strategy coach may be super into excel sheets and another may be intuitive and show you how to listen to your gut. You buy a coach for their SPECIFIC TECHNIQUES to get you to a SPECIFIC GOAL. 

Self-care and Productivity coaching: is a form of coaching for wellness and alternative approach to coaching. There are other coaches with this title – but they don’t do their coaching my way. 

Also, when you hire a coach, you are investing in someone with their methodology to tackle the problem. So, no two people are alike, and good coaches adjust to their clients, but they bring in a technique or methodology to structure their work. Make sense? 

BUT why I got on this topis – I attract a lot of anxious people! SO, I wanted to discuss my thoughts on this. OF course I attract anxious high achieving people – they are the ones who want support in self-care and being more productive. BUT I AM NOT THEIR COUNSELOR. 

How I do what I do

In the coaching capacity, I specify in the beginning that I am not a counselor. Most often people come in having had counseling before, which I prefer, because they usually come to me in conjunction with that or after that.

I generally look to work with people who have that background because it means they are trying to tackle their problem from a different way (which is how I got into coaching and sought coaches). Usually, people come to me when they have done or currently do counseling, but they also want to have active, tangible, actions to reach goals.

I utilize my own coaching method, and I work through anxious perfectionism and high achieving to get to a place of calm and productive and learning how to take care of yourself by using one month on learning yourself, one month teaching self-care, and one month teaching routines and productivity.  See? Very structured. You know what you are buying.

With counseling, I would never treat every client in a similar format and be like it is month 1 ready for learning about you? They would be like no…. I have trouble sleeping and panic attacks I want support there.

YA feel me?! 

Any questions? Check out my flow chart above or set up a call with me!


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Burnout Coach Kat Kiseli

Hi, I’m Kat

I’m on a Mission to Help High Achievers Find Happiness & Balance


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