Career Coaching vs. Career Counseling

There has been a surge in recent calls to Ashburn Psychological Services from people looking to figure out what to door with their careers or to make a occupation change. One of the questions I often get during phone consultations is about the difference between career coaches and career counselors.

Though the lines between career counseling and career coaching have become blurred, there are some distinctions that can make a big difference in determining your future. Coaching is usually more individualized, results-oriented and guided by the client's agenda. Counseling and psychology often seek to fix what psychologists called pathology, whereas career counseling focuses on identifying career interests, aptitudes and creating a life skills plans that allows clients to accomplish those goals. A career coach can help you, like a career counselor, figure out where you want to be through talking and testing, but a coach usually also helps develop a plan, coach you on the interview process, helps you put together your resume and applications.

The follow through, the short-term, goal-oriented approach is probably one of the things that makes career coaching unique in comparsion to career counseling. Career coaches also have the ability to do somethings that career counselors rarely do -- and that's work with interviewing specialists, headhunters and others, instead of simply referring you to them for other services. Career coaches also get unique opportunities, with consent, to process boundary lines that counselors rarely do. For example, I have a very functional teenage client who has pervasive developmental disorder (or PDD-NOS) who has social anxiety and related problems communicating that make it difficult for him in work situations. I was able, with consent, to hook him up with another functional client, who has dealt with anxiety, who is working in a workplace that is very open to individuals with unique quirks. As my latter client headed off to college, he was able to walk my younger client's application into his managers and get him a job. Coaching allows you to cross other boundaries, like going to observe your clients at work and even providing them with some work with people you know to help them develop skills. In the end, there are advantages to both, but for a client looking to develop skills, trying to figure out what they want to do in life and who wants follow through, I'd recommend career coaching.

Then again, I'm a biased. :)

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