So You Want to be a Counselor, Coach, or Mentor?

Some basic distinctions of some aspects of helps categories.

This chart gives some basic distinctions in terms of the varied purposes of the three categories. In order to be effective in any of these roles, one must first, of course be qualified to do so. Particularly the counselor. The counselor is in a position to have a far reaching mental, emotional and spiritual impact on a person. The stakes are very high, and the counselor, like any other profession, has to not only be well trained, but qualification also indicates, professionalism, wisdom, accountability, knowing your limitations, emotional maturity, etc. Most of all, you must have a heart for this work.

You have to care deeply, but not be codependent. You have to know your own temperament strengths and weaknesses. You have to have integrity and accountability. You must have ethical standards that govern your work on every level. You cannot be a counselor “wannabe.” The stakes are too high… count the cost if you have aspirations of being a counselor.

Coaching has become a sought after service particularly over the past 15-20 years. It comes in many forms such as business, all the way to “life” coaching. Basically speaking, coaching differs from counseling in that counseling deals with the past, present and future, and coaching deals with the present and the future. You should not mingle the aspects unless you’re qualified to do both. Coincidently over the last 15-20 years, training and education to become a “coach” of some kind has also proliferated. And that is a good thing, as it protects both parties in as much as a degree of accountability and integrity is more or less ensured.

Mentoring is different from the other two categories, and may be the most susceptible category to an overlapping of all the categories. One of the reasons is that largely, the concept of mentoring is a “coming alongside” someone in a similar realm, helping that person learn and grow in the field the mentor/mentee relationship is found. Problems can arise when the mentor might move into more of a coaching and even counseling area, while not having the training or education to match.

Most mentoring, unless it’s an organized and/or regulated situation, doesn’t necessarily have the same ethical training and accountability as the counseling realm for example. It’s a relationship of trust. We also need to trust that the organization or business is investing on some level, in training their mentors. Many business more and more, take their mentoring programs very seriously, and are more likely to provide training for their mentoring endeavors.

So… if your desire and heart is to function in any one of these offices, it would be good to seek the counsel of someone qualified to help you determine which direction you might want to move in. In any case, it’s very important to deal with your own life first. We don’t operate an any of these offices because we have all the answers, or to “be an influencer”. We do it to serve. We do it raise others up, and their well being is paramount to us. And we do it because we need the same help as others. In fact it’s a privilege to serve in any of these capacities.

So, if you have any desire to serve in any of these offices, start with your own mentor, coach, or counselor and seek the guidance and direction you will humbly need. If you don’t have one of these relationships, maybe now’s the time to take advantage of the benefits available to you through one or more of these relationships.


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