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Career Coaching versus Career Counseling

Posted on October 24, 2016 at 8:35 PM

Career Coaching versus Career Counseling

Rose M. Beane, Ph.D.

Emerging needs in the changing landscape of work settings have resulted in competing variables between Career Coaching and Career Counseling in the field of Career Development. This paper will outline the similarities and differences or the distinctions between career coaching and career counseling. The usefulness of skills and techniques used by counselors in the career counseling work versus a career coach, or as a mentor --- or other career choices.

Coaching is a rapidly emerging field pulling from the foundations of coaching in athletics (Hudson, 1999). Generally, coaching is defined in a personal and organizational context. Y Barry Chung and M Coleman Allen Gfroerer (2003) indicate that despite its increasing popularity, the concept of career coaching has been addressed only sparsely in the career development literature. However, there is a substantial overlap between career coaching and career counseling in the areas of career development. The goal of career coaching is to assist clients’ personal development within the context of work and career so that clients can:

• Better identify their skills’,

• Make better career choices, and

• Be more productive and valuable workers. (2003, p. 141)

Accordingly, career coaches serve as personal consultants for work related concerns such as work/life balance. Although, career coaches have their own certifications, they are criticized for practicing without a license. Finally, career coaching is not regulated by a specific code of ethics. Career coaching approaches are task and problem solving oriented and do not delve into the client’s past. A longer commitment is made to career coaching clients usually three (3) months to five (5) years. Career coaching is not affected by managed care. Finally, career coaches typically work with clients on how to better run a business or to improve job performance and productivity through focused strategies. Career coaching is distinctively a human resource function or activity and is narrowly focused (Feldman, 2001).

On the other hand, career counselors differ in significant ways from career coaches. Career counselors are trained as professional licensed counselors with specializations in career interventions (Chung & Gfroerer, 2003) . Career counseling has the following distinctions:

• Training programs are recognized by nationally recognized bodies (NBCC),

• National certificates or state licenses for counselors and counseling psychologists, and

• Relevant professional codes of ethics (ACA, NCDA, APA).

As a result, counseling professionals do not recognize career coaching as a comparable profession. In addition, career counseling uses psychological interventions in addition to problem solving and may use professional assessments and gather background information. There is a short-term commitment to treatment for career counseling clients. Career counseling may be impacted by managed care. Finally, although, career counselors may provide consultation to employers and managers they do not typically work with clients on how to better run a business. Career counseling is more broadly focused. (Chung & Gfroerer, 2003) (Chung & Gfroerer, 2003)

The similarities between career coaching and career counseling begin with both stressing a confidential work relationship with their clients. Career coaches and career counseling have a foundation in psychology and thereby transferrable skill sets. Chung and Gfroerer (2003) present a coaching/counseling example where the combined practice or integrated practice opportunities with business involving a process of assessment, goal setting, counseling aspects and communication skills. Finally, some career counselors are opting to take jobs with human resource departments as career coaches and transferring their skills and competencies to the fast growing area.

My sense is that the open market of globalization has secured the need for career coaching and career counseling and the need for a combined integrated approach to service the overwhelming need for work/life balance and developing leaders as well as productivity.



Chung, Y. B., & Gfroerer, M. C. (2003). Career coaching Practice, Training, Professional, and ethical Issues. The Career Development Quarterly , 141-152.

Feldman, D. C. (2001). Career coaching: What HR professionals and managers need to know. Human Resource Planning, 26-35.

Flaherty, J. (2010). Coaching: Evoking excellence in others. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Gallup, I. (2007). StrengthsQuest. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from StrengthsQuest:

Hargrove, R. (2008). Masterful Coaching, 3rd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hudson, F. M. (1999). the Handbook of coaching: A comprehensive resource guide for managers, executives, consultants, and human resource professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.




Categories: Career Development, Professional & Personal Development

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