What Is The Difference Between a Life Coach and a Counsellor? A Simple Explanation for You…..

It can be difficult to know which personal development professional to approach when you are either struggling in life or when you want to make positive life changes. One of the questions I am often asked as a Professional  Coach is whether life coaching and counselling are the same thing.

The reality is that the work of a life coach and the work of a counsellor is very different. So let me give you a better understanding of what type of personal development specialist may be the best help for you to get the results you want.

For only YOU  know your needs and challenges in life. And if you know the key difference between life coaching and counselling, you can make a better-informed decision about who you choose to explore working with.

An experienced life coach? Or a counsellor? I hope you find this information helps you understand the key difference.

However, if you have any further questions, I invite you to get in touch.

Life Coaching or Counselling?

Which one will get you the high level of results you want? 

A simple way to explain the difference between life coaching and counselling is by using a scale of ‘minus five’ to ‘plus five’ – with  0(zero) being where we are now ie present day, +5 being the future, and -5 being the past.

As a Professional Life Coach:

My main focus is zero (present-day/looking at where you are now in your life, what is going on for you, your beliefs, values, who you are as a person), to +5 (i.e. the future, where you want to get to/what transformation you want to achieve successfully).

A Counsellor’s main area of focus:

A counsellor’s main area of focus is zero(where you are now/your current reality) and also -5 (your past) to explore what is happening in your life now, or has occurred in the past, and how it’s affecting you directly from moving on.

As a Life Coach, I will tend to ask you:

“What do you want to achieve? “And then help you successfully take all the steps you need to achieve it.

 A Counsellor is more likely to ask you:

 “What happened? Tell me more…”

It doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that at times there isn’t an element of crossover, as often a life coach (especially if they are trained in  Neuro-Linguistic Programming or ‘NLP’ as I am ) may feel it beneficial to help you to ‘reframe’ or reprogramme the way your mind sees past incidents – or help you understand where certain limiting beliefs or learned behaviour patterns may have come from, so you can let go of them and move on.

The main focus of your coaching relationship, however, will never change.

Coaching is about forward movement and helping you make real, positive, and meaningful changes in your life.

As a Transformational Life Coach and Mentor, I believe making that change involves a whole person approach and helping you make change both at an inner and outer level.

Creating a life that looks good on the outside isn’t any good to you if it doesn’t FEEL good at an inner level as well!

In essence, working with a life coach is about helping you get from zero to +5 in your personal or professional life, whatever your desired ‘+5′ may be.

The questions to ask yourself:

 “Do I feel ready to move forwards and make meaningful change to my life?”


“Am I  ready to commit  to taking positive action now?”

(If your answers are ‘yes’ then you would benefit most from Life Coaching)


“Do I feel unable to move forwards until I have come to terms with or learned to cope better with something that has happened in my past, or is happening in my  present life, first?”

(If this is more applicable to you, then you would benefit more from counselling at this stage)

To sum up the main difference between life coaching and counselling for you:

Coaching is about helping you move significantly forwards from where you are in your present life and making some very real, positive, and meaningful change or transformation – both at an inner and outer level in your life.

On the other hand, counselling is about helping you come to terms, accept, reframe, or cope better with something that has already happened or is happening in your life.

I hope you have found this simple explanation of the key difference between life coaching and counselling helpful.

Simple explanations are often the most beneficial; it is too easy to get over-complicated in life!

Maureen Sharphouse



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©Copyright 2015-2024 Maureen Sharphouse. All Rights Reserved. . Maureen is based in Kinross-shire, Scotland and works with clients locally, nationally and internationally.