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Counseling VS Mentorship: What’s the Difference?

There comes a time in most of our lives when we feel lost, confused, and unsure of the next decision to make. During times like these, it’s important to have someone in your corner who can advise and guide you on your journey.

It can often make sense to turn to someone within our social circle for mentorship and encouragement. But there are those times and life challenges that may require professional counseling. 

If you are dealing with stress and uncertainty and need guidance but are unsure of whether a mentor or counselor makes more sense, here are some things to keep in mind.

What is Mentoring?

Mentors act as role models and provide guidance to others to help them reach specific goals. A mentor can help you learn new skills, develop more confidence, and make better decisions.

A mentor is someone you most likely already know. Typically, a relationship with a mentor will be encouraged between senior and junior employees. A senior employee takes the junior under his or her wing to help the younger person grow and develop professionally. 

We also commonly find mentorships in the world of academia. A professor may see something in a particular student and offer their ear and expertise to help guide the student in their pursuit of higher education.

Mentorships do not require payment. The mentor gives of their time and experience freely because they feel satisfaction helping develop others.

What is Counseling?

While mentoring is an informal relationship you have with someone already in your network, counseling is a formal relationship you build with someone who has studied and become licensed to help people facing the kinds of life struggles you are experiencing.

In a mentorship, you may meet the other person in a variety of locations (cafe, library, park) and at a variety of times (whenever both of you are free). But with counseling, you generally meet at the same scheduled appointment time and in an office setting.

Counseling is very problem-focused, meaning you seek specific advice and guidance from a counselor when you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression in your life.

Do I need Mentorship or Counseling?

That really depends on what is going on in your life. If you are looking for some general advice about a career path or what degree you should take in college, you most likely need mentorship.

If, on the other hand, you are going through a mental health crisis and need to acquire strategies and tools to help you cope, you should seek guidance from a trained and licensed mental health counselor.

If you think you want to speak with a counselor, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss how I might help.




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