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The Differences Between Mentoring, Coaching, and Counselling

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about my latest book (read about it here), which will explore mentoring, coaching, and makes references to counselling.

Sometimes the three approaches can become blurred… but there are differences between each.

Here are the nuances:


A mentoring relationship is when somebody shares their technical career and/or life experiences with somebody in a similar situation. There is the potential for the experiences to be applied; however, they may have a shelf-life.

Mentors must remain contemporary in their adventures. If not, they risk losing their relevance.

A mentor with emotional intelligence and advanced questioning skills can transition into coaching.


A coach is engaged because of their skills and ability to connect with somebody.

They will often set boundaries and expectations for the relationship.

An excellent coach knows how to ask timely and insightful questions, is comfortable with silence, and can summarise well, anchoring conversations on key points. These points can become actionable tasks.

A coach is only likely to become a mentor if they share a common experience with their coachee - e.g., performed a similar role.


Counselling explores topics deeply within a person. Sometimes, this is trauma-related and is generally about understanding the past.

There is a difference between mentoring (similar experiences), coaching (skills) and counselling (regulated qualifications).

An experienced mentor or coach knows when to suggest that counselling might be a better fit for the situation.

Not one of the above is better than another. Situations will determine what is most suitable.

Those in coaching and mentoring relationships must remain diligent about when their conversations enter counselling territory.

Please share this with those that could benefit.


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