The Mental Health Coach Counselling v coaching vs psychology

What are the differences between counselling, coaching and psychology?

Counselling and Coaching and Psychology, Oh my!

When it comes to getting assistance with getting your mental health or your mental wellbeing back in the green, there are many choices available. But with so many options available to us, it can be very confusing to work out what’s going to be best for you. At the end of the day that’s a very personal choice, and as a result it can be overwhelming to work out where to start.

In your adventures to find an option for assistance to connect to, you might have come across psychologists, counsellors, and coaches in your search. But, beyond the name, when it comes to making a choice between counselling, coaching, or psychology – where does the difference lie?

It’s a fair question that baffles a lot of people who are new to accessing mental health services, and one that deserves to be answered so you can make your choice with certainty that you’re connecting with the right option for you.

All three share a lot in common; and at the same time, are all quite different. Gosh, even some practitioners like those here at The Mental Health Coach that have skills that span all three methods of working. Talk about wearing different hats!

Let’s dive into differentiating between counselling, coaching, and psychology in some detail.


When it comes to the human psyche and behaviour – clinical psychologists reign supreme. Or rather, doctors. They’re extensively trained to assess a person’s mental condition using clinical interviews and a series of tests, which encompass:

  • Lengthy questionnaires
  • Clinical interviews
    • Instrumental tests (for measuring mechanical abilities)
  • IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests
  • Accurate personality tests

Of course, the need for a certain test will depend on the patient’s situation. Not all of them must undergo an IQ test, for example. On the other hand, tests such as a clinical assessment are common practice, even a requirement, with every patient, regardless of their issue to understand in how best to help you.

In and of itself, psychology can be defined as a scientific study of the human brain, the thought patterns and behaviours resulting from particular mental health problem or mental illness. In simple terms, a psychologist’s study of the mind is applied to their clinical practise as a way of helping their patients cope with mental health problems.

Importantly, and this is one that a lot of the general public were never aware about – Psychologists can’t write medication prescriptions! This is the role of a psychiatrist, which, unfortunately, we won’t be discussing in this post specifically.

These professionals are indicated in the treatment of issues like:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder or high-functioning depression
  • Personality disorders (antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Emotional disorders
  • Psychopathologies

Here we are discussing the comparison of clinical psychologists with their coaching and counselling counterparts. Still, psychologists may (and often do) specialise in subfields that greatly differ from clinical practice, such as experimental psychologists (who gather laboratory data on human and animal behaviours), forensic psychologists (who apply their studies to legal issues), among many other subfields.



Counsellors operate under different titles – including “clinician” and “therapist.” They work in the area we often informally refer to as “talk therapy” because, in essence, that’s what it is.

These professionals do more than just “talk”, though. They perfectly blend their stellar communication abilities to a vast study background. In a conjoint effort, both counsellor and client (or clients) will pinpoint solutions to ongoing problems, as well as discover potential background problems that may radiate into the present.

Depending on their practise, they may not be able to provide specific diagnoses for mental problems. Still, if no specific diagnosis is required and a patient only requires knowledgeable and personalised guidance, a counsellor is the perfect fit.

As with every professional, choosing the right counsellor will depend on the issue you’re facing, as well as the people you want to involve in the practice.

Counselling can be done individually, in groups, family, and couples, depending on particular needs. The main types of counselling include:

  • Marriage counselling
  • Family counselling
  • Mental health counselling
  • Rehabilitation/Abuse counselling
  • Career counselling

If any of the above are a source of distress in your daily life, counselling would be worthwhile.


The thought of a coach is often followed by words such as “motivation” and “mindset”, and rightfully so! Coaches are professionals focused on wellbeing and objectives, helping their clients’ lives become more purposeful and fulfilling with their insightful advice.

If you’re working with a coach, they’ll help you find strengths you most likely didn’t know you had within yourself. Together, you’ll discover unique advantages and use them in an action-oriented plan. In short, coaching smoothens the path towards future aspirations, relinquishing the limiting beliefs that stifle a client’s ability to move forward.

Without any training beyond coaching, coaches aren’t qualified to treat mental illnesses specifically – however they can absolutely assist in navigating life with a mental health problem. But this isn’t an issue for people who just need strong, well-calculated assistance in the right direction. Although they don’t need formal or academic training to call themselves professionals, they just might be the type of expert you need to turn your life around.

The coaches at The Mental Health Coach are all highly qualified in coaching, holding International Coaching Federation recognised qualifications as well as counselling qualifications – talk about dual-wielding!

Coaches can specialise in many different areas, some of which include life coaching, business coaching, career coaching, couple coaching, and more. There are over 30 coaching modalities, some of them more sought-after than others.

The type of coach you choose will heavily depend on the area where you’re seeking improvement from a mental health issue. Coaches are able to help people deal with several issues, including:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Problems at work
  • Trouble setting and pursuing goals.
  • Trouble abandoning bad habits.
  • Persistent creative blocks
  • Lack of motivation


Coaches, too, can discuss aspects of their client’s daily lives–they just won’t dwell on the past as much as counsellors and psychologists would be required to do. But of course, that doesn’t mean coaches will never explore a client’s past. They must do so, even if briefly, to help clients move forward.




The coaches at The Mental Health Coach are all highly qualified in coaching and other modalities and have undergone coaching certification programs.

Finding the Perfect Professional

The above descriptions you’ve just read are all an accurate portrayal of each type of professional. Ultimately, the choice of choosing between one of the three is yours. And the best approach to making this choice is assessing each of the professionals individually. If you can schedule an interview prior to the initial appointment, do so!

Actually, did you know you can have a complimentary one with us at The Mental Health Coach to see if we might be a good fit for you?

Well! Take the opportunity to ask a few questions – after all, the better you get to know them, the better you’ll be able to tell if they will be worth your time. Whether that be for the next few weeks, or months, or years…

Here’s a cheat-sheet of questions you can use to determine if they’re the help you need:

  • What kind of training and expertise do you have to help me with problem X (the issue you’re dealing with)?
  • Are you licensed (in this state)? (For psychologists and counsellors only).
  • How has your framework previously helped people with problems similar to mine?
  1. What are your areas of expertise?
  • For how many years have you been seeing clients/patients?

Above all, regardless of who you choose to work with, you’ll need to have a good rapport with them. In other words, you’ll need to feel comfortable working with them.

Once again, here at The Mental Health Coach we offer a complimentary conversation with our experts to help you work out what might be the best option for you. So, give us a call, send us an email or book a session with us online and let’s talk about how we might be able to help you. It’s completely free – and completely confidential!

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