Consultation and collaboration are unique skill sets that overlap with counseling, yet differ from counseling practice. On this page you will find the American Counseling Associations Consensus Definition of Counseling as well as a brief comparison of counseling, consultation, and collaboration.
Before we can compare counseling with consultation and collaboration, we need to understand what exactly counseling is. The American Counseling Association has been working to form a unified professional vision for the future of counseling that includes licensure portability and a clear definition of counseling.
The widely agreed upon definition of counseling is:
"Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals" (Kaplan, Tarvydas, & Gladding, 2014, p. 366).
For a more in-depth look at counselor professional identity, check out our unit on Professional Identity in the Introduction to Counseling class.
The following table provides some points of comparison between counselors, consultants, and collaborators. Keep in mind that there are multiple definitions of consultants and collaborators (Dougherty, 2014). Some of the primary differences between the roles are that counselors work in a professional to client relationship, consultants generally work in professional to professional relationships, and collaborators often work in professional to professional and professional to client relationships.
|Definition||"Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals" (Kaplan, Tarvydas, & Gladding, 2014, p. 366).||"Consultation is an indirect process in which a human service professional assists a consultee with a work-related (or caretaking-related) problem with a client system, with the goal of helping both the consultee and client system in some specified way" (Dougherty, 2014, p. 7).||"Two or more people working together, using systemic planning and problem-solving procedures to achieve desired outcomes" (Curtis, Castillo, & Cohen, 2008, p. 890).|
|Provider Credentials||Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)||No required/standard credential||No required/standard credential|
|Confidentiality||Defined by laws & ethical standards||Not governed by law or ethical standards, should be defined in informed consent (ACA, 2014, D.2.b)||Not governed by law or ethical standards|
|Who has Power?||The Counselor (e.g., the power to use mandatory mental health holds)||The consultant has expertise that are sought by the consultee||Power is shared among two or more collaborators|
|Ethically Required to Provide an Informed Consent?||Always (ACA, 2014, A.2)||Always (ACA, 2014, D.2.b)||No|