What is the Difference Between Life Coaching and Counseling?

Professional man sits across table with another male in conversation

Do you enjoy helping others? With a degree in life coaching or counseling, you can turn your passion for helping others into a career. While these two degrees have similarities, they also have qualities that make them unique. Continue reading to learn about the similarities and differences between life coaching and counseling in order to determine which degree is right for you!

Life Coaching

With a degree in life coaching, you can help others achieve their goals and maximize their potential in life. Here’s a quick overview of some of the topics you will study in this program:

  • The comparison between coaching, psychology, cognition and counseling
  • Coaching techniques for individuals and organizations
  • Creating and interpreting assessments
  • Ethics
  • Research and statistics

By gaining knowledge in these areas, you will be prepared to help your clients be the best they can be. You will learn to focus on the future in order to offer insight to your clients about how to improve their life and meet their goals. As a life coach, you will work with many different kinds of people to help them reach their full potential in life.


A professional counseling degree prepares you to help individuals struggling with mental and emotional disorders such as addiction, anxiety and depression. In this program, you will learn about:

  • Counseling theories
  • Cultural and social diversity in counseling
  • Trauma counseling
  • Psychopharmacology and addictions
  • Examining physical effects of drug abuse
  • Counseling’s role in treating psychopathology
  • How to administer group testing, gather results and analyze data

While life coaching focuses on the future, counseling focuses on the past, present and future. As a counselor, you help you patient work through these struggles so that they can find freedom.

Which Degree is Right for Me?

Having a career as a life coach or counselor allows you to help clients improve their quality of life.

If you see yourself succeeding at helping individuals meet future goals, a degree in life coaching may be the right choice for you.

On the other hand, if you want to help individuals work through past or current wounds or worries about the future in order to find freedom, a degree in counseling will prepare you to do so.

Ultimately, earning either one of these degrees will prepare you to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences is committed to helping you advance your ability to think critically, apply analytical constructs and communicate complex ideas clearly. To learn about the degree programs available at GCU, visit our website or contact us today using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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