Finding Professional Support: The Difference Between a Coach, Consultant, and Counselor

ciara pressler consulting

The be-your-best industry has exploded in recent years, and options abound for goal support.

It’s helpful to understand the different types of support available. As in all things, do your research and comparison shop: what are the options, what do you get for the investment, and what are your advisor’s qualifications?

No one will ever know you better than you know yourself, so trust the path that seems the most true to who you are and how you function.


A coach guides you, but you do the work. A coaching engagement is designed to empower you to act on your own behalf, identify your own blocks, and see your circumstances more clearly.

If you’re a self-driven person who loves guidance but also wants to learn, coaching may be the right resource for you. The tricky thing about the coaching industry is that it’s unregulated – unlike psychology, no degree is required, thus anyone can hang a shingle and declare herself a coach.

Ask for references, testimonials, or case studies of others who have been successful after working with the coach or the company.


A consultant evaluates your situation and gives you specific guidance on what to do, pointing you in the right direction.

If you like to be given a specific plan or to have the work done for you, a consultant is probably your preferred option.


A trainer is a type of consultant. S/he creates a specific plan or curriculum for you to follow in order to get results.

If you’re social, competitive, or team-oriented, you will probably have an effective learning experience in a group environment.


If you are constantly holding yourself back and can’t figure out why, you might benefit from delving into the depths of your habits and motivations with a licensed professional.

Therapy is a safe place with an objective party who has devoted many hours to both the study and practice of the human brain and how it affects the way we behave and believe.

As with coaches, try to find a therapist who understands people like you and who comes recommended from a respected source. It’s also worth doing a little of your own research on various psychological approaches, i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy vs. psychoanalytic therapy.

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