The Differences Between Teaching, Coaching, Counseling, and Mentoring.

There is no denying that helping others can be highly rewarding. From the time we are all born, we have people in our lives who are responsible for growing and developing us one way or another.  Besides family and friends, the most common person to have a major influence on someone’s life is a teacher, coach, counselor, or mentor. Although all of these roles are distinct from each other, there is a lot of confusion about the differences and similarities between them. This is why we have broken down the differences between mentoring, teaching, coaching, and counseling.


Teaching is highly recognizable in our society. Out of the four roles, teaching is most common for people to experience. As common as it is, this role requires an extensive amount of education. One must obtain a degree, and in some cases, multiple degrees. A teacher must have the knowledge of an expert in the subjects they teach while having the credentials to back it up. A teacher’s job is to successfully pass on knowledge to their pupils to prepare them for their future. The measurement of success is how well the student performs academically, and equal responsibility for that success is shared between both parties. When it comes to student and teacher relationships, most teachers are responsible for dozens to hundreds of students, making it difficult to obtain a close and personal relationship. In some cases, students can have a personal teacher or tutor, but the relationship normally lasts for the duration of the course. This makes the turnover rate for a teaching relationship generally the highest of all four roles. 


Coaching is very similar to teaching because the most important thing a coach needs is significant knowledge of the sport rather than first-hand experience playing the sport. The role of a coach is to guide, motivate, and critique their player in order to unlock their full potential in the sport being played. The success is measured by how well the player does in competitions, with the majority of the responsibility being placed on the coach. Some coaches can have one player they are responsible for, but most tend to have a full team. This can make a coach’s relationship with their players more personal than a teacher with their students because of the hour’s coaches spend with their players and the environment they’re in.


Counseling is very often confused with therapy. Therapy is the process of healing someone from a disorder, while counseling is the act of helping someone through a personal or social problem in their life. Obtaining a degree and credentials is mandatory for counselors in professional settings such as working at an educational institution. In more casual settings, like a summer camp, a degree may not be as important as having knowledge and understanding. The relationship between a counselor and their client is very personal because of the nature of the communication. A counselor’s job is to give guidance in order to fix a problem, then the responsibility to fix that problem is on the client. 


Mentoring is the personal and professional relationship between two people, with one instilling guidance and knowledge upon the other. A person doesn’t have to have a degree or be an expert in order to be a mentor. What is more important is a mentoring having experience and a heart that cares enough to share that to another person, in order to benefit their life. Out of the four roles, this one is the most personal because of the one-on-one relationship, low turnover rate, and the situation. A mentor helps their mentee on all aspects: academically, personally, socially, and psychologically. In a way, mentoring has elements of teaching, coaching, and counseling. The measurement of success is how well the mentee does in life, and the majority of the responsibility is put on the mentor because it is up to the mentor to hold the mentee accountable for the improvements and success in their lives. 

Out of all four roles, mentors seem the most difficult for youth in today’s world to obtain. Unlike common misconception, it is not difficult to become a mentor. You don’t have to have a fancy degree to become a positive change in the life of a young person. That is why here at IYDE, we specialize in training people just like you to have the knowledge and tools needed to be able to call yourself a successful and effective mentor. Please visit Get Involved to learn more about how you can become a mentor today!

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