Counseling, or psychotherapy, has a focus that is directed toward the individual and how that person is functioning in the larger context of their lives. There is usually an exploration of the client’s past life and the relationship between this past life and the feelings and issues that currently confront the client. (Wheeler, 1995, p. 50) The counselor is usually trained as a psychotherapist and licensed by a governmental agency to provide this type of professional service. The client (patient) presents a problem: This problem may be overt such as substance abuse, or covert such as a character disorder. In any presenting problem, it is the job of the counselor to work through the presenting problem with the client and restore a degree of mental health. This is often regarded as a medical model because the scope of the relationship is one of “healing” the client.
Counseling is often non-directive and the focus of the communication is on what is conveyed by the client. The counselor encourages the client to examine her own personal issues and work them through to a satisfactory conclusion. The work occurs in the counselor’s office with a specific appointment hour and a specific time limit (usually 50 minutes). The counselor can assure the client confidentiality within the limits imposed by the law. Counseling can be short or long term depending on the issues presented and the manner in which the counselor proceeds.
The relationship established between the counselor and client is difficult to describe succinctly. The counselor must remain objective and distant, yet at the same time exhibit a quality of warmth and interest in the client. The counselor must demonstrate empathy toward the client and her issues. This is a general rule of counseling. Thus, the counselor must attempt to create an environment in which the client feels safe and free to express herself. The counselor will often employ different types of communication techniques at appropriate times during a counseling session. These techniques may involve reflecting emotionally laden material back to the client for clarification, probing or asking questions that may lead to greater insight for the client or perhaps confrontation when both client and counselor are aware of a true distortion presented by the client.
The responsibility for changing behavior rests primarily with the client. Optimally, with insight or training, the client will make satisfactory adjustments and the curative effect will have occurred. Client and counselor usually meet weekly unless the situation demands a more intensive intervention. Typically, the client, medical insurance company, or employer will reimburse fees for services rendered by the counselor. Usually, the rate charged is by the appointment hour. The rules of the therapist prevail in providing this type of service. However, it should be noted that with the advent of managed care and health management organizations (HMOs), there is a current trend to set a limit on the number of counseling hours allowed or approved for an individual. . . .
There are many viable and (at least potentially) effective ways in which to improve the performance of someone about whom we care. Counseling and consulting are certainly of great value and often incorporate elements of the coaching process. Yet, organizational coaching offers several critical differences from the usual (as well as more informal) modes of coaching with which we are all acquainted. . . .
Put much too simply, counseling is about the heart, consulting is about the head, and coaching is about the head, heart and guts in interaction. Stated with a bit more precision, we can differentiate between consulting, counseling and coaching by noting that feelings (heart) are often the focus of a counseling session, whereas consulting involves primarily the systematic reasoning through of an organizational issue based on rational analysis and review (head). Coaching issues inevitably address the interplay between feelings, reasoning and the resulting will to action. Using psychological terms, we might say that consulting is situated primarily in the domain of cognition (thinking). By contrast, counseling is situated primarily in the domain of affect (emotions). The third C, coaching, is situated at the intersection between cognition and affect, as well as in the domain of conation (behavior).