Career coaching vs career counselling – what’s the difference?

In need of some career guidance? Here we look at some of the options available so you can find the right support for you

For many of us, we spend a great deal of our lives at work. For some it’s a calling they feel passionately about, for others it’s simply a way to fund their time away from work. Whichever camp you fall into, being unhappy at work can take its toll.

Feeling that sense of dread in the pit of your stomach as you think about the day ahead, knowing you’re either going to be bored, stressed or anxious at work, is a tough thing to experience. Perhaps you know what’s at the root of it and what needs to change, perhaps you don’t.

Maybe you don’t have that sense of dread, instead you feel restless. You don’t know what you want out of your career, you just know it’s… not this.

You may have started exploring your options already. Looking on job sites to see if anything jumps out at you or speaking to your manager about your unhappiness. Maybe you know you need to do some work on yourself to improve things at work, or maybe you’re fully aware you are not the problem.

Wherever you are, if you’re feeling stuck, lost and unsure how to move forward, you could benefit from professional support. Sometimes we need a guide to show us the way, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s look at some options you could explore here.

Career counselling – could a counsellor help with your career?

Typically we think of counsellors and therapists as people we go to when we’re struggling with our mental health, perhaps after a diagnosis of a condition like depression, for example. While this is of course true, counsellors can support in a range of different areas, including your career.

In this video BACP accredited therapist Caroline Plumer explains more about career counselling, the common reasons you may seek support and how to find a therapist who can help you.

If your mental health has been affected by work, or your mental health is affecting work, speaking to a counsellor could be beneficial. They can help you better understand what’s happening and help you manage the situation. This may mean making changes in your work life, or even discussing what’s happening with colleagues, if you feel comfortable doing so. It could also mean making a decision to leave your role and finding something that better supports your mental health.

Career counsellors can also help you to build resilience, navigate difficult conversations and relationships at work, and build confidence. They may also be able to support you with workplace bullying, work-related stress and low self-esteem, making work an easier place to be.

Career coaching – how can coaching support your career?

Career coaching is another option you may want to consider. The aim of career coaching is to help you find fulfilment and happiness at work, whether that means helping you change career, helping you change roles or get a promotion, or helping you get more out of your current role.

Coaches can be particularly helpful if you’re feeling lost and unsure where to start. They can help you identify your strengths and core values, so you understand what type of work may help you feel more fulfilled. Helping you identify any skills that could be beneficial, your coach will likely encourage you to set goals, holding you accountable and supporting you on the way.

Working with a career coach may also involve looking at your work/life balance, seeing if you can regain some balance and feel less consumed by work. Coaches can also support you in building confidence and working on presentation skills, helping you feel more capable and empowered at work.

In this video Career Elevation Coach Carly Ferguson explains the best things you can do for yourself when you’re stuck in a career rut and the ways you can move forward.

Do you need a career counsellor or a career coach?

Both coaches and counsellors can be incredibly supportive in helping you navigate career concerns. Every professional will have a different set of skills and areas of expertise, and it’s worth learning more about each one before getting in touch.

While, as mentioned, all professionals will work differently, as a general rule you can expect counsellors to be particularly helpful around mental health concerns and identifying historic roots to behaviour. They may use talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy to help you cope with stress and anxiety related to work.

Generally, you can expect coaches to support you in setting goals, improving skills and identifying what you truly want from your work life. They can help you identify any limiting beliefs that may be holding you back at work, so you can remove obstacles and move forward.

If you’re still unsure, try getting in touch with a counsellor and coach to explain your situation and ask which approach may suit you best. You may even benefit from both. Whatever option you choose, know that you’re not alone in your career worries.

You can find a career counsellor on Counselling Directory, or a career coach on Life Coach Directory. You may also find it helpful to explore the National Career Service for free advice.

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