What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Sheila Chandra - Thursday, January 04, 2018

Coaching and mentoring are often used synonymously but they don’t mean the same thing at all. They’re two very useful but different approaches to solving problems in your professional creative career, though. So which might you need?

What is coaching?

A good coach will draw the right answers for their client out of the client themselves. After all, there’s no one that knows your career better than you do. At first glance, that seems like a waste of time with a coach – after all, the answers may be those you always knew deep down. But the thing is, you weren’t getting to them. Sometimes we need a good reflection and attention from another non-judgemental person to find out what we always knew was right for us. Or to overcome emotional patterns around work that have always held us back. Maybe even to articulate them properly at all!

Coaching works on the ‘meta’ level

As I’ve said, a coach will assist you to find your own answers. And the process of coaching itself makes you stronger in the long term. Coaching is empowering. Good creative career coaching works on two levels. It not only helps you find your own tailor made solutions to your own problems – it also makes you more able to find your own solutions in the long run. So it solves problems while also giving you confidence in yourself and building up your insights and resources.

Coaching isn’t counselling

If you have problems that relate to serious personal issues in your past, then coaching isn’t right for you. You need someone better able to help you go back into your past to ‘unpick’ your problems and patterns. Creative career coaching is for when you want to focus on the present and take action to achieve your career goals.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is when someone in your field, or a closely related one, shares their insights and stories around the issues that you’re facing. They may be able to point you to various models, strategies, resources and contacts that will help with your current level in your career. However mentors simply share what they know… whether you relate to, or take their advice on board is up to you.

I offer both coaching and mentoring

I’m an arts veteran of almost 40 years’ standing. I started in acting and moved into singing, songwriting, managing my own copyrights, leading workshops and eventually became a bestselling author. If you’re in the creative industries, chances are I’ve experienced a similar situation to the one you’re in now… Even if I haven’t, I can coach you to gain more insight into where you’re stuck and what you need to do next. Within a session, I’ll use both my coaching and mentoring skills to help you get where you need to go.

If you’d like to receive free tips and advice, subscribe to my coaching newsletter at Or contact me at if you’d like a free coaching consultation to find out if I’m the right coach for you…

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