Our relationship with our career can be satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Our career coach is a reflection of ourselves at some level and who we are, thus it can create almost the same level of stress as a personal relationship can. We may actually spend more time pursuing work, rather than tending to family, creativity or our other needs. It may be, therefore, worth our while to examine our career choices, rather than just getting a job. Based on this idea, two professionals help people solve problems around this dilemma. Career Coaches and Counsellors both help people with their careers and/or job satisfaction, career transitions and help make career plans. Some areas of their services overlap but there is a distinct difference in the range and depth of services.
Career Counsellor vs Career Coach
A job and a career are two different things. A job is short-term while a career is the long-term sustained focus of a person’s life. By that definition, a housewife’s career is her family while her job is being a wife. A financial planner’s career is helping people achieve their financial goals but their job could be at a Bank. A career path involves why you work, who you are, and where you want to live among other bigger questions. It includes your education plans and your career-building activities among other activities over a lifetime. A career perspective can mean having a completely different attitude to life than simply getting a qualification and doing a job.
Many people confuse a job with a career, leading to increased dissatisfaction. A job may be providing what they need to live, or they can be in an unstable place financially, but mentally and emotionally, the job may be dissatisfying. A job is one milestone in a career. In some cases, a person may be overly fixated on their job and finances to the exclusion of all other pursuits. This is unbalanced and there is usually a price for that kind of stress. It may not actually lead to the kind of success that people want. A coach or a counsellor can help in establishing more skilful work habits and also help in personal development congruent with the ultimate career goal.
Some people wonder if they need a career coach to help move their career to the next level. The title of a career counsellor may be confusing to someone who is used to the idea of a career coach. A career coach helps you navigate the job hunt, they help identify your core skills, and some of them can also help with resume writing. A coach cannot often help you with deeply repressed emotions and subconscious blocks to taking action.
A coach can help you with mindsets such as perfectionism and procrastination to a certain degree but they are not trained to help you with emotional trauma or deep personal change.
Here’s a possible scenario that should help clarify the difference between a coach and a counsellor:
If Joe has worked for a while but wants to make a change, such as migration, but Joe isn’t sure where he fits in, in the new country, then a coach can give Joe a push, and help him build the right resume, carve out a career plan and search for a job. A coach will also work on any confidence issues.
But if Joe struggles to know what he wants, then a coach cannot help. Signs of that struggle could be that if you decide on one career path, then change your mind the next day.
The difference between career coaching and career counselling is a fundamental difference in the scope of services. A career coach helps if you have one problem and one goal, which is to help you get a job and develop a career plan. They can’t help you if there are subconscious blocks towards success stemming from childhood conditioning/ trauma, which is something a career counsellor helps with. They can also help figure out the root cause of some self-sabotaging behaviours and help clarify alternatives. The great thing is that counsellors don’t tell you what to do, they sort of guide you to figure it out for yourself.
The result of a good fit can be an overall better adjustment to life, because we don’t have cookie-cutter lives and not everybody is able to follow a linear career path. Life-changing events happen unexpectedly, but the right counsellor can help a person face changes with astuteness and courage.
A career counsellor provides a different role from a coach. A counsellor’s primary purpose is to provide therapy for your well being. A counsellor can help with self-sabotage patterns, subconscious blocks, childhood trauma, difficult relationships, depression and anxiety that may lie behind the lack of a well-paid job. In addition, some career counsellors can help you create a career plan and provide advice for job search and interview preparation. Another area for career counsellors is in making big decisions. If you are very confused about existential questions, your values, your life purpose, your identity and what would bring you happiness, then counselling with a trained professional can help.
Types of Therapies and Treatment style
A Coach is likely to use solution-focused therapies, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) hypnotherapy and/or NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). The therapies are designed to be quick-acting, focused on a couple of goals and/or require homework and activities on the part of the client.
A counsellor may use a more holistic approach, involving self-reflection and deeper emotional processing along with homework and other activities that address the client’s goals. Holistic therapies focus also on self-care activities and practices as well. If trauma is one of the core issues then the therapist would also bring in trauma healing methods. A primary focus of a counsellor is also one’s relationship with emotions, so there may be psycho-education and support for emotional regulation. Counselling therapy is not as linear as coaching and may take longer than a coaching approach.
Struggling with a range of emotions, mood swings, and mental health issues such as ADHD can have a huge impact on career choice and confidence. A counsellor can help a person recover their confidence and self-esteem as well as help with a proactive approach.
Indecision and inaction that arises because of mental health issues can mean years of wasted time as well as lowered self-esteem, thus further complicating a person’s life and self-worth. A coach may not be able to understand someone who is suffering from a mental health issue.
Is Counselling Worth It?
This is a very personal decision, and like all things, it is about self-trust as well. If you think it can help, or are willing to give it a go, it might help. Technically, counsellors are trained to understand human behaviour and personality at a deeper level and can help people make sense of their behaviour and make suitable changes. They also abide by the laws and regulations pertaining to counselling in their area of practice. That means a person’s privacy is protected and it could be a much safer option rather than expressing anger and frustration in self-sabotaging behaviours.
Sometimes people can feel very stuck, unable to even think of working because they have lost their confidence completely due to past trauma. They can be in a frozen state of despair. They may not even want to work anymore or feel that they can ever succeed. Some career coaching programs can be overwhelming for more sensitive or exhausted people. A therapist can help identify a treatment plan and suggest other therapists who can collaboratively help someone get back on their feet.