Career Counselling Services – What is the difference between Career Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring?

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Blu Ripples Career Counselling Services empowers clients through the provision of encouragement, support and guidance

Clients frequently ask “what is the difference between Career Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring?”.  Utilising Mink, Owen and Mink (93) Differences: Coaching, Mentoring and Counselling as a baseline for definition and discussion one has extracted and expanded upon their concepts to help you understand the differences.

The following provides information provides both definitions and scenarios to expand upon the key differences between Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring: –


Counselling usually occurs over a short period of time (a series of one on one counselling sessions); the focus is on re-framing motivational, attitude and behavioural issues or problems and implementing developmental and/or corrective action strategies to counteract same.  Counselling can be applied to a clients personal or professional life.

In session the Counsellor will apply numerous therapies and techniques including (but not limited to) active listening, exploration of thoughts, feelings, emotions, values and goals to create meaningful outcomes for the client.


Coaching like counselling usually occurs over a short period of time with the key focus on providing clients with performance and/or developmental experiences to help improve or transform their performance through learning practices, work – job design.

The key aspect to coaching is on learning for increased job or workplace performance.


Mentoring occurs over a longer period of time and focuses on current and future performance.  That is, focusing on the NOW to enhance the future performance.

Generally working one-on-one with a mentee (client) the mentor focuses on issues such as goal setting, relationship management, instruction, guidance and empowerment to create opportunities for growth, development and advancement for the mentee thus encouraging, supporting and motivating the mentee to make and act on career decisions which will enhance their future.


In order to effectively illustrate the above definitions and purposes one has provided a one scenario for each area below: –


A client aged in their mid-20’s is stuck in a rut they have completed their tertiary qualifications but feel the position and industry is not what they thought it would be; now they feel unsure of their next move and have reported feeling anxious, pressured and stressed as a result.


A client in their late 30’s has recently been made aware on an internal position that will be advertised within the next month or so.  Whilst the client does not meet all of the criterion for the position they have stated they wish to submit an application and brush up on their interview skills.

Whilst, career counselling can also help with this scenario their focus is on developing and refining their skills, knowledge and self-awareness so that they can transform and successfully transition into this position.

Therefore, the focus is on the goal(s) of the client, creating learning experiences to help the client in attaining their desired outcomes within the short or possibly longer term.


A recent law graduate in their mid-20’s has recently commenced their first full time position and is feeling unsure of their position, expectations and how to move forward in the firm.

The graduate applies for the internal mentoring program which helps them to settle into the role, set career related goals, encourages them to network and take advantage of growth opportunities that will add value to their experience by providing practical applications to the theory they learnt at university.

The mentor they have been paired with has 15 years plus experience and is seeking to help the new graduate grow and develop their career and confidence and view this opportunity as a way to give back to a new generation of lawyers and at the same time expand their skills base and revitalise their career.

Whilst the scenarios one has provided are career workplace focused counselling, coaching and mentoring can be applied across a diverse range of personal and professional issues.

The most important aspect of each is that the client and the counsellor, coach or mentor have a positive and authentic rapport with each other and that no conflicts of interest exist between the two parties thus enabling both to move forward with confidence, meaning and mutual respect.





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