• Coaching Versus Counseling

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    More and more mental health professionals are wearing two hats these days; that of a coach as well as that of a counselor.

    Why is that? There are several reasons, but first I think it’s important to distinguish between the roles of a counselor and a coach.


    The profession of counseling varies from state to state. Why is that? Because state licensing boards are responsible for determining the rules and regulations that govern counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists in each state or commonwealth. These regulations can vary from state to state, but they inevitably require that licensees have completed the proper graduate training, taken the appropriate national tests, maintain their credentials through ongoing education, and act in an ethical manner. Counselors have the training to diagnose and treat common mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, OCD, and relationship issues. As a result, counseling is usually covered by insurance.
    The varied laws that exist amongst states make it difficult for most counselors to practice across state lines, which is becoming an ever-increasing need as Telehealth and remote counseling becomes an increasingly acceptable and desired mode of receiving services from a licensed counselor.


    Coaching is a much newer, nonregulated profession that is not focused on treating mental health issues. Coaches can be certified through national and international training programs, but it is not a regulated profession and it does not currently require that a coach have a license or certification to provide services. Coaches typically work with individuals in achieving specific life goals through a limited number of set sessions. Maybe you want some guidance on how to build your business, increase your self-confidence, improve your social life, meet financial goals, establish a better daily routine or break a bad habit. There are life coaches for every need imaginable. Coaches are not limited by the same laws that restrict counselors which allows them to work with anyone, anywhere in the world.

    How Coaching and Counseling are Similar

    In my 8 years as a private practice counselor, I have had to work from a medical model. What does this mean? It means that as a professional who is reimbursed by insurance, I need to conceptualize cases in a way that places a diagnosis on an individual in order for their services to be covered by the insurance. This is easy to do if a client has a clear-cut diagnosis like anxiety or depression. But what about the client that is struggling with job dissatisfaction, lack of focus on goals, or just not satisfied where they are in life? These issues are so common but not diagnosable. This is where coaching becomes invaluable. By the nature of their training, counselors ARE coaches, but not all coaches have the training or certifications to be counselors.
    As someone dedicated to providing self-betterment tools to gay men, coaching can be focused on; relationships, dating, working on personal goals as related to finance, health, business/career, self-defeating behaviors, confidence-building, or finding meaning and purpose in one’s life.
    The duration of coaching is usually much shorter than counseling; with 6-10 coaching sessions being the average length of our work.

    So what service is right for you?

    For starters, I am only licensed to provide counseling to residents in Pennsylvania and Florida. This means that individuals with common mental issues like the ones mentioned above can be addressed and treated. My initial, free consultation will help us determine whether you are best suited for counseling or coaching. If it is determined that you require mental health counseling and you are not located in Pennsylvania or Florida, then I can work with you to find an appropriate mental health professional in your state of residence.