Coaching Vs. Counseling for the Introverted

A life coaching client said to me regarding his experience with prior counseling, “I do a lot of talking but don’t feel it changes anything. I’m an internal processor, not an external one. I like to think and pray on it.” When he shared this thought, I saw some past correlations in my practice with other clients.

Reflecting on clients I’ve come to know well and understand as introverts have also commented, “I’ve been to counseling for years, and never made the progress that I’ve had in a few coaching sessions with you?” When I asked one why he thought that, his response: “We have a dialogue, you give me different perspectives and tools, then I can go off, think about it, and have work to do. I like having goals because it helps me see the progress I’m making. I didn’t get any of that in counseling. I basically answered questions and wasn’t even sure what I said was true at the time. I needed more time to think about it.”

Why Coaching May Be More Effective Than Counseling

Coaching is different than counseling, and I believe for people who identify with introversion, coaching can be more impactful process, because it enables the client to do most of the work outside of the session and at their pace. Coaching is future focused toward change and allows the client to process thoughts and feelings in the environment that serves them best. There’s plenty of work to be done outside the session, but during it, the coach provides perspectives, insights, and tools, as well as serves as a brainstorming partner.

Counseling, on the other hand, demands to know your thoughts and feelings right there to questions asked by the counselor such as (1) what do you think of… or (2) how do you feel about…  As one introverted coaching client told me, “I would get asked questions and feel like I needed to respond. I wasn’t in touch with my feelings and wanted to go off and think about it. I wished my counselor would’ve just sent me a list of questions that I mull over before showing up. I would’ve felt better prepared and that I got my money’s worth.” Additionally, my clients who’ve shared their experiences with counseling said they got insights into their feelings, but then was left with the unanswered question of “what do I do next”.

Many counselors never see or interact with their clients between sessions. Coaches usually make themselves available in multiple capacities in between. Counseling has its place and benefits but don’t discounted that life coaching can be more impactful, especially for clients who prefer introverted processing.

There’s an expression that rings true: not everyone needs a counselor, but everyone can benefit from a coach. And this may be especially true for those who self-identify as introverted.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

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