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The difference between coaching and counselling

Coaching and counselling are both part of the client’s guidance process. There is no real consensus about the difference between coaching and counselling, because the line dividing the two is very thin, and everyone has their own interpretation.

The difference according to the ACC

At the ACC, we consider the following to be the difference between coaching and counselling:

  • As a counsellor, you and your client explore his underlying patterns and investigate where the problem originated in the past. You then look at how the underlying causes and patterns can be changed or resolved.
  • As a coach, you and your client look at how he can do things differently in the future with new strategies. You investigate the possibilities and strengths of your client and challenge them to push boundaries.

In other words, you work on different stages in the process. As a counsellor you look at what needs to be discovered and processed/solved from the past, so you can continue to work on the future through coaching.

In practice, there is a large overlap between the two forms of guidance, which is why both are taught in one programme at the ACC. After all, as a counsellor you cannot properly work without coaching skills, or you might get stuck with your client in the past. And as a coach you most often cannot work without counselling skills, because then you may ignore deeper causes, which – when remain unsolved – can cause your clients issues to keep returning.

The spelling of counselling

Counselling can be spelled with either a single or a double ‘L’. The Americans prefer to write ‘counseling’, the British use ‘counselling’. There is no right or wrong in how you choose to spell it. We have chosen to use the British spelling, so with a double ‘L’.

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