Counseling vs. Guidance

What is the difference between guidance and counseling? Due to the name of a position that is found…

What is the difference between guidance and counseling?

Due to the name of a position that is found in most schools – guidance counselor – many people have the idea that guidance and counseling mean the same thing  and that they can be used interchangeably. The professionals that work in this role engage in helping students with personal, behavioral and educational needs and offer then advice about programs that they can take in their post-secondary education. They also set up career fairs so that students are able to see the career options that are open to them. They also help them develop into mature and responsible adults by preparing them for their future.

Guidance and counseling are processes that help a person solve problems in one’s life, but they are different in the way they go about helping people do this. The way in which they approach the problem will definitely depend on the individual and the method of counseling and guidance that they feel comfortable with.

In guidance, the process consists mostly of listening to the person talk and then discussing the problems with an unbiased attitude. There may be ready made solutions that the person hadn’t thought of using, but in most cases just talking about a problem alleviates some of the stress associated with it. The person will make the decision about whether or not to accept the solution that has arisen out of the discussion. Usually the solutions are given with the best of intentions and the person does take steps to follow through.

In counseling, there is more talking than listening. The problem is discussed back and forth and relevant information is put forward to help the person with the problem to be able to understand the cause so that he can come up with his own solution. Therefore the process of counseling is more of the act of empowering others to come up with solutions on their own so that they can use the advice in the future and learn how to dissect future problems.

To some people guidance is a part of counseling. They see it in the light that problems can be discusses and solutions found and tried over and over until a solution is found that actually works.


  1. Guidance is a broad concept that encompasses counseling. Counseling involves in-depth discussion of a problem in an attempt to arrive at a solution.
  2. In counseling the idea is to help people have a better understanding of themselves. This is inward analysis. The counselor proposes several alternative solutions in an effort to understand the problem. The focus is on the problem rather than the solution and the counselor may be able to effect some emotional change or a change in the way the person feels about the problem.
  3. Guidance is more outward and is geared to helping people arrive at alternative solutions. It is also focused on helping a person analyze the solutions to determine the best one and the result is a change in attitude toward the situation.
  4. Guidance is more geared toward education and careers, but it can be associated with solving personal problems.

Many people feel shame at the prospect of having to seek the help of a counselor either on their own or as part of a group. They do not realize how this person can help them find a solution to their problems when the counselor has no connection or knowledge of the problem. However, the counselor does not have any pre-judgements and can therefore give an unbiased opinion. Guidance and counseling are great ways to help people find their own solutions to problems, but they do have to keep an open mind and be able to see their own flaws.


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