Counseling, Consultation and Coaching. What is the difference?

At Blue Sails Counseling and Consulting, therapists aren’t just helping those in crisis. Therapists provide counseling, consultation and coaching.

It’s that time of the year again, New Year’s Day. Last night there was champagne, fireworks, a plethora of appetizers and parties into the wee hours of the night.
Today there is that looming list full of lofty resolutions you will attempt to achieve this year. You may be looking toward reaching those goals through superficial changes such as trying that new diet or buying that upgraded activity monitor. The changes being implemented are superficial because they are changes regarding your behavior and not core attitudes that cause the behaviors. Core attitude change requires more than motivation and will-power. Core attitude change requires the ability to challenge negative core beliefs, confront insecurities, and suspension of disbelief. This kind of change is uncomfortable and difficult to navigate alone.

It is okay to get help. Here at Blue Sails Counseling and Consulting, therapists aren’t just helping those in crisis. Therapists provide counseling, consultation and coaching. For many, the question is what is the difference?

Counseling is a method of treating behavioral and emotional symptoms of mental health disorders. What did you feel when you read the last word, disorders? What images or thoughts came to mind? For many, the word disorder is negative and heavy. I want you to challenge those thoughts. Imagine moving to a new area, like many of those connected to the Naval base do, and not having the social support you once had. That move or stressor can be temporary and have a mild impact on mood or anxiety. Mental health disorders range from the example above to disorders that can and have severe and persistent impacts on functioning and quality of living.

In counseling, these symptoms of mental health disorders could be the focus of your resolutions. Counseling typically focuses on improving symptoms such as overwhelming worry, persistent low mood or motivation, and/or poor communication in relationships that impact functioning at work, school or home. Counseling can address underlying issues such as trauma, thinking traps, and family patterns. Counseling is a good idea for those who may notice they have difficulty enjoying things they once enjoyed, feel anxious in social settings, or have difficulty coping with stress.

When in counseling, the relationship between the counselor and client is therapeutic. This means that although the counselor works with the client collaboratively, the relationship is not equal as the counselor is unable to reciprocate what the client shares.
Consultation is a short term option that is useful for those seeking advice about a concern. When in consultation, you would bring important information regarding your situation, options, motivation and outlook on each option. The therapist in this instance would provide objective information not to be confused with advice. The intent is for the therapist to improve the depth and breadth of your outlook in regard to your options. Consultation is a good idea for those who may be seeking to change jobs, move, or change relationship status.

Coaching, when not a part of counseling, is less clinical. This means the relationship between the coach and client are different. There are less formal boundaries. Coaches have more freedom to share personal stories to teach and motivate. Coaching typically focuses on attaining goals in the future but may address symptoms such as anxiety that impact the client’s ability to take action. Coaches assist with clarifying goals and identifying ways to track progress. Coaching may be helpful for those with specific financial, health-related, or business-related goals.

It is important to note when seeking help, that the counselor’s approach will differ. While the therapist will have their own approach based on their assessment and their training, you can voice what you need. In addition to voicing your needs, it is helpful to understand that not every counselor will fit your needs or will be able to develop the rapport you want. Don’t fret. Keep trying to find the counselor you click with.

To schedule an appointment with one of our therapists at Blue Sails Counseling and Consulting for counseling, consultation or coaching, please call us at 410-231-0488 or visit


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