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Counseling, Coaching & Mentoring



The Riley Guide: Before You Search

We also have information on Self-Assessment, Exploring Career Options, Evaluating Job Offers, and Coping with a Job Loss.


Mentoring is not counseling. It is guidance in the form of teaching and support provided by someone you trust, usually a teacher, a parent or relative, a supervisor, or a counselor.

John E. Kobara's Adopting the Mentoring and Networking Lifestyle
…a blog subtitled "How Passion and Altruism Can Bring Meaning to Your Life and Your Career." For more than thirty five years, John has been leading and managing diverse and complex non-profit and for-profit organizations, and he channels much of his energy into what he calls the Mentoring and Networking Lifestyle, an approach to life and business that places a high value on the interconnections between all of us. This blog includes articles on how to connect with others through networking and mentoring — offering your best to others and asking for them to share their best with you. His articles are well written, well conceived, and offer terrific suggestions for improving your connections to others in business and in life. Great ideas for mentors as well as those seeking mentors/networking connections.
National Mentoring Partnership
"A mentor is an adult who, along with parents, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there." The National Mentoring Partnership does not offer mentoring services but instead supports those who do and helps to connect you with available mentors and mentoring opportunities.

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Counseling Associations

American Counseling Association
The ACA is the professional association for all counselors. General visitors who are not counseling professionals will find useful information under Consumer, including their Counseling Corner. This series of articles is directed to the general public, and the articles are designed to help educate you about potential problems, when it might be appropriate to seek counseling assistance, and the role a counselor might play.
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
"Pastoral Counseling is a unique form of psychotherapy which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth. Pastoral Counselors are certified mental health professionals who have had in-depth religious and/or theological training." Persons who are looking for certified pastoral counselors can search the member list by name or geographic location, and the list of the denominational affiliation codes is also available for review. The association is not limited to Christian faiths. You can also find information on and contact information for the state licensing bureaus for assistance in verifying someone's license.
APA Help Center
Through this site, the American Psychological Association offers useful facts, information, and advice on how psychological services can help people cope with problems such as stress, depression, family strife, or chronic illness. The site provides sections devoted to psychology in the workplace, the health implications of the mind/ body connection, family and personal relationships, and psychology in daily life. In addition, users may order a free print brochure, "How to Find Help for Life's Problems," learn how and when to choose a psychologist, and obtain a referral to a psychologist in their area. A detailed site map and an easy-to-use keyword search facility aid navigation of these helpful pages.
International Association of Jewish Vocational Services
…a not-for-profit association linking together twenty-eight health and human service agencies in the United States, Canada, and Israel. JVS provides a wide range of educational, vocational, career, and rehabilitation services to all individuals seeking to improve their lives. Check their list of member agencies to find the one nearest you.
National Board for Certified Counselors
NBCC is a national certification agency for counselors, and holding NBCC certification demonstrates that this person has met minimum qualifications and agrees to uphold a standard of ethics in practice. They offer services to help you find an appropriate counseling professional in your area (see our information on Select a Counselor).
National Career Development Association
The career counseling arm of the American Counseling Association, and now the only organization offering a certification in the specific field of career counseling. NCDA offers terrific information for consumers on what to look for in a counselor, what to expect when you pursue counseling, and a list of approved Master Career Counselors (MCC) and Master Career Development Professionals (MCDP). To get these certifications NCDA members must meet certain standards which you can review as you review the list available on their site under Find a Counselor. Full disclosure: I am a member of this association.

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Coaching & Consulting Associations

Coaching and Consulting are not the same as Counseling. The professionals in these fields are not required to have specific educational qualifications, certifications, nor licenses, but that does not mean you should relax your own standards in hiring a coach to assist you. Look for outstanding professional expertise, industry certifications, and/or association memberships when considering someone in these fields to give you some idea of skills, qualifications, and professional standards. You should also request references from other clients. The associations listed here allow you to search their member directories.

Should You Hire a Career Coach? Sara Eckel (forbes.com)
Good article on the topic, covering what to look for, what to expect and how to avoid scams. Disclaimer — I'm quoted. But even if I wasn't it would still be a good article. Don't skip the pictoral on Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Coaches. There is great info in there.
Association of Career Professionals International
Formerly known as the International Association of Career Management Professionals (IACMP), this association includes "career management professionals work under organizational sponsorship or directly with individuals or groups of executives and employees or individuals to assist in career management, choice, advancement and transition." While many ACPI members are career counselors, it is not a requirement for membership. Most members operate career and outplacement management businesses targeted to the individual and his or her needs, but you will see some members who work for the corporate outplacement firms like DBM, Right, and Lee Hecht Harrison. You can search their free directory of worldwide experts to find the best person to assist you. Look for "services to the individual" or similar phrasing when reading the member descriptions to find those who will work with you.
International Coach Federation (ICF)
Coaching is a relatively new profession that may be the step between "consulting" and "counseling." According to the ICF, "Coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organizations to develop more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. Coaches work with clients in all areas including business, career, finances, health and relationships. […] Professional coaches are trained to listen and observe, to customize their approach to the individual client's needs, and to elicit solutions and strategies from the client. As with all new professions, those calling themselves coaches have a broad variety of backgrounds and experiences, which is good, but there is no law saying "practitioners in this field must be licensed or must have the following credentials to call themselves 'coaches'." I recommend that you look for ICF certification (ACC / PCC / MCC). This shows you that the coach has met a minimum standard in a specific group of core competencies relative to the coaching process. The ICF has a free Coach Referral Service you can use to find a coach meeting your specific needs, and members are located all over the world. "Career Coach" is one of the specialty areas offered, along with Life/Work."
The Member Directory from Career Directors International
Full disclosure: I am a member of this group. Career Directors International (CDI) is an association of career professionals from all walks of life and experience, including professional resume writers, job developers, recruiters, career coaches, career counselors, assessment specialists, HR professionals, and more. The searchable member directory helps you connect with the professional you need for free.
Betterfly is a free resource you can use to find individuals offering personal services (i.e., "Betterists") related to improving (bettering) yourself. Of course, you can also offer your services to others! "Tutors, coaches, stylist, trainers and other "Betterists" list themselves on Betterfly and create their own Sites to market the services they offer related to personal betterment." If you are seeking someone to guide, coach, or teach you, be sure to read their full information and client reviews prior to booking. And definitely look for experience and / or credentials, especially among those offering career services. There is no contact info, but I did find a name by looking at the blogs and the public domain registration. Betterfly was founded in NYC by Joshua Schwadron with backing from Lightbank, the investment vehicle of Groupon founders Brd Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky.

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Selecting a Counselor

In addition to these guides, check Consumer Info from NCDA for a list of frequently asked questions about career counseling plus their Consumer Guidelines to Selecting a Career Counselor.

Find a Counselor
A searchable directory of National Certified Counselors in the U.S. A service of NBCC. NBCC certification is not required by all states in order for someone to operate a counseling practice. Most states have their own certification requirements, but most accept NBCC certification in lieu of their own. Make sure any counselor you work with meets state licensing and certification requirements. Ask for copies of his or her credentials.
State Licensure
All states in the US, except California, license professional counselors. You can use the State Board Directory to contact these agencies for lists of locally-certified counselors in your area. Make sure any counselor you work with meets state licensing and certification requirements. Ask for copies of his or her credentials. You can also use the Credential Verification search at NBCC to double-check someone's NBCC certification.
NCDA Find a Counselor
NCDA is the career counseling arm of the ACA, and now the only organization offering a certification in the specific field of career counseling. You can review the requirements Master Career Counselors (MCC) and Master Career Development Professionals (MCDP) certifications by selecting Consumer Info > Choosing a Counselor > Career Counselor Training and Credentials from the top menu. To Search the database of certified counselors, select Consumer Info > Find a Counselor from the top menu.

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Online Counseling

This idea has gained enough ground that the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the National Career Development Association (under Guidelines look for the document Use of the Internet for Delivery of Career Counseling and Career Planning Services), and the American Counseling Association (ACA) have all issued ethical and procedural guidelines for these services. You will want to be assured hat someone offering online counseling follows at least one of these guidelines and states it in writing.

It's important for you to realize that there are many types of counseling services being offered online, from assessment tools to one-on-one counseling sessions. You'll find several online Self-Assessment Tools & Resources listed in the Riley Guide. Some of these are free, but those that offer more personalized service or those that require a certified professional to interpret the results will charge you a fee. You should know in advance what is being offered, what you may expect from this resource or service, and what your total cost will be (should the service require a fee.)

I do not want to list counselors nor consulting services in this guide because I cannot evaluate their services for you, but I will list sites and resources offered by persons who also offer counseling services under appropriate areas of the Riley Guide. Most will fall under Self Assessment and Explore Career Options.

Please refer to the information on Selecting a Counselor and the Counseling Associations for more assistance in finding a counselor or consultant that meets your personal needs.

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