What is the difference between a coach, a counselor and a mentor?
There is a lot more gray area than it seems. A good coach will give emotional support and a good counselor will help thier client to reach thier highest goals.
So what is the difference and why does it matter?
I have official roles as both a coach and a counselor. I am going to make a controversial statement that coaching and counseling are essentially the same art form.
Regardless of what it is labeled, the work that I do is both therapeutic and supportive of personal goals. Other practitioners have expressed a similar idea which you can see here and here and here. The debate between coaching and counseling is magnified by professional interests and regulatory agencies siloed in separate industries. Certainly people with serious pathology will rely on counselors. But, for most people who come to me seeking support, regardless of whether that support is labeled ‘coaching’ or ‘counseling’, the content of the sessions is much the same.
As if this debate weren’t confusing enough, my own work is different in style, substance and form compared to the common assumptions about what coaches and counselors do. At heart, I am a mentor, as I have been for over 20 years. I work with nature, human nature and the cosmos. I want you to know what I offer and why it is unique.
Most of my private practice work falls under the legal umbrella of coaching.
However, I am not here to teach you how to do something immediate like to train your dog
Or how to play guitar
Or how to get rich quick.
I dont have a formula for you to apply that will solve all of your problems.
I dont have a motivational seminar to make it seem like your problems will all be erased effortlessly.
I am not going to guarantee your happiness.
I support a much deeper process in which people’s hidden talents, aspirations and essential selves may rise to the surface.
I know many great life coaches. A few, like me, do much deeper work than the typical coach.
Unfortunately, the public image of life coaching has been co-opted by people who are seeking to get rich quick and flaunt personal fortune as proof of their success. The coaching world is increasingly filled with ponzi schemes, prancing motivational speeches and ego driven approaches that don’t hold the clients needs as the highest priority. This only perpetuates the mass confusion of our times because it reinforces the cult of personality and the idea that external success equates to personal worth. Those ideas keep us tied into an old narrative that does not serve us at all. It leads us towards an outdated model of success. Life coaching which is motivated by personal gain or based in static formulas for success only reinforce the status quo. On the other hand, real deep work among innovative life coaches can help create a world that is greater than the one we live in. Thats the kind of work that I am doing.
The essence of coaching is something we need to return to – it is just mentoring under a different name.
Quality coaches stand out because they work to earn trust and hold the client’s best interest as the sacred aspiration that it is. The proof of this work is not in a lavish lifestyle, it is in one’s capacity to support people in real time. A good coach works together with their clients – collaboratively weaving a more beautiful vision of what success really entails for them personally. In the end, this kind of success is not measured by mastering a skill. It is measured by the felt sense that we are becoming the people who we are born to be.
Working with people individually has a ripple effect which leads towards a more beautiful world.
I am a registered psychotherapist in the state of Colorado. I work as a therapist in an agency setting, and I also have a private practice. I am a candidate for a masters degree in Counseling and I believe that having a solid grasp of western psychology is essential training for the work that I do, but ultimately it is only one aspect. In Colorado, I work under the legal umbrella of counseling, I serve people from many walks of life – people who could not otherwise afford counseling support, and private clients who want to experience a deeper and more meaningful life as a whole.
My designation as registered psychotherapist does not carry across state lines. So I do my distance sessions under the legal umbrella of coaching which allows me to serve people through phone and video from areas around the country. Coaching is a platform in which I can serve the majority of my clients – who are people who are inspired to work with me across the country.
However, there is another and more central reason how this is different than standard psychotherapy. My work is based on a synthesis of nature mentoring, counseling techniques and remote energy work. I help people to bridge body, soul, spirit, and discover a state of being beyond disconnection.
It is an essentially different practice than standard psychotherapy. My approach includes somatic intuitive work, ancestral medicine, engaging with future generations and connecting with the deep psyche of the cosmos. This is a unique art and science. It relies upon skills, diagnostic systems, training pathways, healing practices, methods and goals that are as influenced by traditional cultures as they are by modern psychotherapeutic technique.
Most of my coaching clients do not feel a need to have an additional counselor – the work that we do is rich and transformative. However, I do occasionally work with people in tandem with their primary therapist, because I offer a unique and nontraditional type of support.
This work is helpful for clients who seek mental health – but it is not a treatment for mental illness. I work mainly with people who don’t need acute care. But, this work is certainly therapeutic. It can and almost always does bring about deep emotional and personal transformation.
I consider myself a mentor.
Everything that I do as a coach and counselor is a natural extension of the nature mentoring work that I have done over more than 20 years.
This work is therapeutic and it absolutely helps people reach beyond their present limits. But the mission of mentoring is much bigger than the diagnosis and treatment of illness or the development of a skill. It is rooted in a deeper goal of helping people to find their place in the great work of our times.
Mentoring is based on a model of healing in village cultures around the world. Rather than a therapist with a hermetically sealed life, separate from the patient, mentoring happens in a relationship, which is embedded in the fabric of the wider community, more like a ministry. I don’t preach to anyone, but I acknowledge the inherent dual role of being both a mentor and also a fellow human being.
As a mentor, I help to treat the epidemic of disconnection. A part of this work is soothing the pain of disconnection from ourselves and one another, from our ancestors and our life purpose and the animate world as a whole. I am also a purpose guide. I help my clients to hone in on the specific potential that is their birthright. Most of all, I help my clients to foster an embodied sense of being and belonging in the world. I believe that this is essential work for the world today, and it has a meaning greater than any name that we might put upon it.
What’s in a Name
What is in a name? Coaching, Counseling, Mentoring – it doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is how much quality and vision and integrity is present in the work. In every profession, no matter the label, the quality varies widely. There are plenty of bad coaches and bad therapists out there. There are also plenty of good ones. The quality of the work relies upon both personal development and training – but the personal development piece cannot be taught in school and it cannot be tested for. In the end, this work at its highest level is a calling. It’s based on a lifelong apprenticeship to understanding the challenges of being human.
If you are looking for a counselor or coach or mentor, find someone who speaks to your heart. Find someone who challenges and inspires you. Find someone who truly sees you. Make it a guideline that you will not accept mentoring from anyone who does not recognize your underlying potential. Regardless of how they call themselves, pay attention to how you feel when you are with them, what they are able to offer within each session, and what effect it is having in your life. That is far more significant to your evolution than any label that you see on their door when you walk in.