Counselling may share coaching's goals of improved personal excellence, increased awareness of problematic emotional reactions and thoughts that may impede work effectiveness and peak performance. But counselling also addresses non-work aspects of an individual's life and may involve in-depth exploration of the client's history and their key relationships with parents, partners and other family members - issues that may be only slightly related to business effectiveness. Furthermore counselling may also lead to deep and sometimes intense emotional release that requires skillful guidance from an experienced practitioner.

Due to the differences between Coaching & Counselling, what is acceptable for one intervention may be inappropriate for the other. While a counselor may legitimately explore the early-childhood dynamics, family of origin patterns  and roots of challenging behaviours with a client, it is less appropriate for a personal coach to do so.

If a coach feels there is important unfinished emotional business hampering an executive's performance in the workplace, he or she should refer the executive to a competent counsellor.