Therapist, Coach, Counsellor. Who does what?

Hello, my name is Keeley Dann and I’m a self love and relationshp coach. I am thrilled to be guest blogging for my friend Isa-Welly on the importance of getting support when we need to and more importantly explaining the difference between coaches, counsellors and therapists.


As a Self-love Coach I am all about getting help and support from others when I need. I have experienced both coaching and counselling and have also trained in both these areas, so I am aware of the differences and who I need to see, for what and when. It can get a little confusing as there are various people and all kinds of methods when it comes to getting support, so I want clear up the difference between 2 very similar, yet different specialists, a Coach and a Therapist. Understanding what each of these does is vital in helping you choose the best person to support you in your time of need.


Before I get down to it however, I want to preach how powerful it is to get support. I know seeking help can be quite taboo for some and it was for me before I began my own self-development journey several years ago. I honestly thought that if you went to see a therapist it meant you were crazy, how naïve right? But having since had therapy and Coaching I have learned how powerful and life transforming it is to be able to open up and talk about what is going on for you, to someone who’s job is to listen and help you understand yourself.



Ok, so let’s first get clear on what each person does


  • A Therapist There are many different types of therapy, including a beauty therapist, a massage therapist, a hypnotherapist and a psychotherapists to name a few. Each of them focus on the individuals well being but in very different ways as you can see from their title. If we talk about a therapist for our mental health, then we are talking about someone who is professionally trained and holds a license. There are various different types of therapy within the mental health field too, including, Art therapy, dance therapy, behavioural therapy, holistic therapy, etc. Each therapy has a slightly different focus, but the main aim of working with someone in a therapeutic way is to help you understand yourself, the issues you are struggling with and to work through them using whichever technique or theory you have chosen in the form of your therapist.


  • Counsellor A counsellor falls into the therapeutic bracket (so will also be called a therapist) Counselling is known as ‘talking therapy’. One of the biggest skills required of a counsellor is the ability to listen and listen well. Counselling focuses on your emotional well-being, and a counsellors role is to hold the space for you to explore what is going on for you emotionally. A counsellor will focus more on the past, so looking back on past experiences and your upbringing to help you identify any areas that may still be causing you emotional pain or to find the stimuli of whatever it is that is troubling you. They will ask you powerful questions to help you become aware of what might be causing the issues you have, so you can work through them and understand yourself some more. You can talk to a counsellor about any issues, whether it is relationship issues, anxiety, bereavement, addiction, etc. You will find that some counsellors however specialise in a particular area of their choice and some may have gained extra qualifications or experience in a particular field such as addiction therapy or relationship/couple therapy. Again there a various different therapeutic methodologies, but all have the same focus in mind, to help you with your emotional pain. Anyone with mental health issues should always first seek help from a therapist 


  • Life Coach A Coach is main focus is to help you get from A too B. A coach will work with you in a Goal orientated way, which means focusing on getting you the results you want. They too hold space for you so you can get clarity on the situation you’re in, and then they help you map out the steps to get you to your end goal. A Coach may dive back into your past and childhood but they will not stay there, their role is to move you ‘forward’. They don’t focus so much on the ‘cause’ but instead prioritise helping you map out the path to get you to where you want to be. A Coach will use different tools and techniques within there work, as well as powerful questions, to help you become more self-aware. You will be given actionable tasks to help you progress in the direction of your desired outcome.


  • Similarities Ok so here are the definite similarities. Both Coaching and Counselling are a form of talking therapy, which means you open up and talk about what is going on for you emotionally. Both require fantastic listening skills and further skills to enable intuitive questioning appropriate to the client. Both roles are space holders for the client with the aim to facilitate change in people. Neither therapist or Coach should ever give advice or directly tell you what to do; they allow you to make your own decisions through gentle guidance and support.


  • Differences A therapist must gain a professional qualification through several years of studying and will be licensed. A Coach does not need a license to practice, nor years of education. Therapists are required to do much of their own therapy whereas a Coach does not. A therapist may work with you for a longer period of time than a Coach and will focus on your past, whereas a Coach will prioritise moving you forward. A coach will give you practical and actionable tools to help you make the necessary shifts you are wanting, whereas a therapist will rarely give you anything to go away and do on your own. Counselling deals with mental health issues and whilst a Coach can also work in this field, they are not qualified enough to replace a therapist. They can however work wonderfully alongside each other.


  • Finding a therapist My advice when it comes to finding a therapist would be to research. There are millions of Therapist out there and just like with people in our lives, there will be some we connect with and others we don’t. So you need to find the right one so you feel comfortable enough to fully open up and be honest about what is going on for you. I would suggest finding an accredited therapist which you can do so using the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) website
  • Finding a Coach Again I would suggest doing your research when it comes to choosing a Coach.  Many Coaches offer a call before working with them so you can both get a feel if you’re the right fit for each other. Decide the area you need help with and you will find there are many coaches who again specialise in a particular area, which may be just what you want. Finding the right Coach is again about connection, which happens once you speak and get to know someone a little more.

    If you interested in how I work as a Coach and to book a free connection call with me just check out the link below.


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