No, they are not. Some folks may, however, confuse coaching with counseling and this is not unusual. Both coaching and counseling focus on helping people deal with difficult challenges or issues. Both may also focus on helping an individual to change her behavior. How are they different?
Counseling typically involves people who are experiencing some dysfunctional behavior or internal turmoil. Counseling is often focused on healing past wounds and looking for the cause or origin of the dysfunctional behavior. Going back to the past is intended to help the client get unstuck, to gain understanding on how the behavior may be causing problems in the present and the dynamics involved, and then to be able to move forward in making the change the client wants.
Coaching is for everyone. In the corporate world, coaching is often an investment made to help high potentials progress towards their full potential and prepare them for bigger challenges. In families and communities, it is for anyone who would like to have a “thinking partner” in pursuing her work, life, or other goals. Coaching has a future focus and aims to create a desired state, that is, the goals that the client wants to achieve. It focuses on helping the client clarify her goals, assess the present, and identify what steps or actions she will take to achieve her goals. It is more focused on the future.
The lines between coaching and counseling may not always be clear, especially for a client. What’s important is that the coach can ascertain whether his client needs coaching or counseling. And, unless the coach is also a trained counselor, the coach will refer his client to counseling.