© Jessica Richards, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern October 30, 2014

Starting out as a new counselor (post-graduation) presents with a lot of excitement, concerns, worries, fears, frustrations, obstacles etc. Often our main concerns and immediate focus is to become a Registered Intern and conquer full Licensure. Then, it happens… the frustrations of just finalizing years of tireless education, often times working full-time and supporting ourselves as well as, a family even. Mostly, on student aid or loans, we hope that the “other side” will show us a little glimmer of light and we will find relief only to realize we are not quiet finished yet. Being a Registered Intern does not hold the same weight as it does in other fields such as Physician Assistance, we still have a long road ahead of us.

With that said, our second focus then becomes “how to make it through” which leads to job searching in cross related fields and positions. One particular interest, most new counselors turn to, is Coaching or Consulting however, buyer beware! If you are seeking a licensure in mental health, marriage and family, or social work AND contemplating adding coaching to your services during your internship, make sure that you do your research and know what you are getting yourself into. Risking a license that you do not have may not be a risk you want to take. Nevertheless, many Registered Interns as well as fully Licensed Professionals do offer both coaching and counseling services. Here is what we know:

What is the difference between coaching, counseling, consulting, or mentoring?

The Coach’s primary attention is on strengthen the client’s wisdom, thought processes, and directed action toward the future, based on the client’s self-identified agenda. A supportive and non-judgmental environment is created in which to inquire, challenge, and stimulate critical thinking and new ways of being, thinking, and acting, often resulting in new behaviors applicable to the client’s whole life (USDA.GOV, 2014).

Counseling (Therapy)
The Counselor’s focus in or addressing a personal issue with client, often related to emotions, attitude or behavior. Counseling therapy may include asking thought-provoking questions similar to those used in coaching. The emphasis however is on applying principles of mental health, holistic lifestyle, psychology and human development to address wellness, personal growth, behavioral change or emotional well-being (USDA.GOV, 2014).

The Mentor’s primary attention is on imparting wisdom to a less experienced individual by taking an active interest in their development. A less experienced individual learns from someone who is literally and/or metaphorically older and wiser and has worn the same shoes and traveled a similar path (USDA.GOV, 2014).

A Consultant’s primary attention is on helping an individual achieve personal or organizational results through the application of their specific expertise where they advise the client on the best course of action for achieving desired goals. Consultants may or may not also be charged with transferring knowledge or a skill set to their client (USDA.GOV, 2014).

As you can see, there are many similarities to each definition and it is not much surprise as to why anyone entering into the helping profession would undoubtedly be interested in each. However, understanding the laws, rules, ethics, regulations, non-regulations, disciplines and business practices of each, separately and together, are of great importance for potential counselors as well as clients of each practice.

Here are several articles and resources to find more information, regarding such practices.

American Counseling Association (ACA):



American Mental Health Counselors Association(AMHCA):

(I could not find anything relating to the topic from AMHCA. If you have a link or resource, I would be glad to share it here.)

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT):

(I also could not find anything relating to the topic from AAMFT. If you have a link or resource, I would be glad to share it here.)

Florida Adminstrative Codes (FAC):


The main point to take away is to do your research and make sure you understand how you will be held accountable in certain situations and circumstances. Always consult with your governing board, association, state laws/rules/statues as well as, your attorney prior to engaging in anything you may have concerns or questions about. 

Profile photo of jrichards1432About Author: Jessica Richards (13 Posts)

Jessica Richards is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern for the State of Florida. As a graduate of NOVA Southeastern University, she holds a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. She currently contracts with local community agencies to obtain hours for full LMHC licensure, while working on establishing her private practice, Peace of Mind Counseling. Both located in Orlando, Florida.

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