Coach vs. Consultant vs. Mentor…..what is the difference…..how do I pick?

Here’s a quick primer on the most commonly used terms in the coaching field to help you choose the right coach or consultant. Each type of professional has slight differences in communication styles and areas of expertise to help you.

Types of Coach Training & Credentials

  1. Coach Training
    • A program designed to provide individuals with coach education. Some coach training is focused on a field of practice like Executive Coaching, Leadership Coaching, Business Coaching or Life Coaching. Others are centered around a particular coaching model. Colleges, universities, and numerous private organizations provide coach training in various formats, depths, and durations.
  2. Accredited Coach Training
    • A program that meets the  standards for delivery of coach training as set out by a recognized regulatory association like The International Coach Federation (ICF). (All of the coaches through CS&Associates have accredited coach training)
  3. Credentials
    • A designation given by a coaching association to a coach who has completed a required number of hours of accredited coach training, who agrees to abide by a Code of Ethics and Standards set by the International Coach Federation or other regulatory body who has completed a required number of paid coaching hours.

Types of Coaches by Credential

  1. Coach
    • An individual who provides coaching services to a particular target market and who may or may not have received coach training and is not certified or credentialed.
  2. Certified Coach
    • An individual who has participated in a coach training program and received a certificate of completion from the organization providing the training which is officially recognized by a regulatory association (e.g. ICF) as one that meets its professional standards. Sample certifications include CEC-Royal Roads, CPCC-CTI.  All of the coaches at CS&Associates are certified.
  3. Certified, Credentialed Coach
    • An individual who has participated in a coach training program that has been officially recognized by a regulatory association (e.g. ICF) as one which meets its professional standards; and who has earned a coach credential from that regulatory body (e.g. ACC, PCC, MCC).  Some of the coaches at CS&Associates are credentialed through the ICF. 
  4. Mentor Coach
    • An individual with extensive professional experience in coaching who has completed a certification in mentor coaching. They assist other coaches in developing their coaching skills through observation and feedback.

Other Professional Roles

All of our Coaches at CS&Associates are also Consultants and can therefore assist you with people, training, organizational design needs in addition to coaching.  

  1. Consultant/Specialist
    • An individual with expert knowledge that is shared with clients in an advisory capacity. Consultants typically provide tips, techniques, direction and advice to their clients.
  2. Mentor
    • An individual with extensive personal or professional experience in a particular organization, field, role or situation. Mentors often share feedback, strategies and lessons learned from their own experience.

So how do you pick?

We recommend the following as a base guideline:

  1. Determine what you need.  
    1. Coach, Consultant or Mentor or a combination of all.  
    2. Consider your preference for certification & credentialing.
    3. What services do they offer? Is there a specialty you are seeking?
  2. Source out professionals who fit your needs and interview a couple to establish best fit for you.

The first step is understanding the various titles/labels that are used in the profession and what they mean.  We hope this quick reference guide has been helpful to point you in the right direction.  

If have more questions, please contact me and I’ll be happy to work with you to get them answered.  

Cheryl Stafford

  • Certified Professional Coach, Royal Roads University
  • Professional Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
  • Certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coach
  • Chartered Professional in Human Resources