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The Shepherd's Academy for Teaching Excellence

Coaching Corner with Coach Penn

Let's go to the next level. As a Family Development Specialist, Coach Penn provides comprehensive services to engage individuals and families in their personal and relational development in order to strengthen their family systems, protect the health and well-being of their children, and improve their economic status and conditions through Biblical counseling, community education, services, referrals, and goal setting.


Couples Coaching Subscription


May 16, 2021

All of my life, I've enjoyed listening to others and helping them troubleshoot issues and resolve conflict. Since becoming a Christian it has become my passion to see others fulfill God's purpose for their lives. Over the past two decades I've worked to develop these skills and strive to strengthen individuals, because whole individuals with a God focused sense of identity make strong families, who in turn strengthen churches and communities. As a Family Development Specialist and ordained minister, its my joy to see families thrive. Please make note of the disitnctions between counseling, coaching, and mentoring.

The differences between coaching, consulting, mentoring and counseling are numerous. Although coaching, consulting, mentoring, and counseling are in the field of social science, each practice has distinctive standards and requirements for entry. The purpose of this essay is to contrast those distinctions. Training programs, preparation programs, books, and professional articles are created to narrow each professionals focus and ensure competency in achieving specific outcomes. Often counselors who are held to a higher standard than coaches question "whether coaches are effective, doubt that coaching really is a profession, concerns about the lack of regulation in the coaching field, and...think that coaching is a fad" (Collins, 2009, p. 21). Therefore it is essential that practitioners and clients understand the differences.

Collins asserts that coaching is "for those who need therapy to overcome disruptive painful influences from the past. It is for well adjusted people to build vision and move forward toward the future...Coaching is not reactive looking back, it is protective, proactive looking ahead, its not about healing, its about growing" whereas counseling requires a skilled person who is able to help the client overcome psychological wounds. The focus of a coach is upon identifying goals and action steps that enable others to increase in "competence, commitment, and confidence" (Hudson, 2008). Coaching is future focused whereas counseling focuses on past pain. Coaching may address personal, relational, professional, or organizational development.

Counseling can be viewed as negative psychology whereas coaching is a form of positive psychology. There are specific prerequisites to entry into the field of counseling such as higher education and state certification whereas caches are not required to meet those criteria. Counselors are required to adhere to a code of ethical conduct also. "Counseling focuses on problems such as dealing with conflict, insecurities spiritual struggles, and emotional issues such as depression, anxieties, and anger" (p. 16). A counselor is licensed to diagnose disorders according to the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) DSM-5 and prescribe medications to promote patient wellness and prevention of further health concerns. Counselors are considered experts who treat patients and support holistic healing (spirit, soul, and body). Counselors can specialize in any number of branches of psychology such as cognitive science, affective science or behavioral science. Psychologist can be trained an possess expertise in cultural, medical, clinical, family environmental, and other fields of psychology. Counselors are not seen as co-equal with patients whereas a coach may be seen as an equal working collaboratively. Counselors rely upon their therapeutic skills to assess and diagnose patient needs, whereas coaches are trained in active and reflective listening and the ability to encourage clients.

Mentoring is defined as someone who provides "modeling, close supervision on special projects, and individualized help which includes encouragement, correction, confrontation, and accountability" (Engstrom, 2003, p. 42). Mentors are viewed as persons with expertise, knowledge, and experience in a certain field. Mentoring requires the mentor to commit considerable time and emotional energy to the development of the mentee. Mentors typically demonstrate and share expertise about vocational and spiritual issues, whereas coaches "do not claim to bring expertise about the clients area of interest" (p.19). A coach may not have experience or knowledge about the client's profession or personal life experiences (e.g. parenting, marital status, etc.) or beliefs. A major difference..." is that the mentor works as an expert while the coach assumes that the client is the one who is best able and most likely to find direction and move forward from his or her position" (p.19). A coach comes alongside the individual whereas the mentor can lead from their area of expertise and past experiences.

Coaching focuses on "career development, getting unstuck, developing and teaching corporate and personal goals, managing conflict, getting through life transition, clarifying vision, and building relations" and is distinguished from discipleship in that it is not "primarily about helping people grow spiritually (p. 20). All Christians are called to discipleship, however not all Christians are called to coach, nor or all coaches Christian. Jesus stated that " A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). Clients are learners or students and should be careful when choosing a coach (or instructor) because their counsel will produce certain outcomes in one's life. As Christians we have a great commission to lead others to Christ and promote faith development, however, coaches may not have discipleship as a primary aim. Coaching becomes a Christian practice when the coach possesses a Biblical worldview and emphasizes getting clients from their current status to God's predestined assignment and purpose in perspective, posture, and position.

Consultants provide analysis and expert recommendations concerning the client's situation. "If you are sick you go to a doctor about your physical condition and its treatment. In business, a consultant might analyze existing problems and practices, suggest better marketing and business strategies and help companies improve performances and develop future plans" (p. 17). Coaching focuses primarily on individuals or teams and encourages the client(s) to evaluate their situation and develop strategies for addressing it. The coach does not diagnose or advise, they do not need expertise in the field the client works in. Listening and asking insightful questions enables the coach to provide non-judgmental support and guidance in the clients' ability to see multiple perspectives of their situation and evaluate possible actions. The coach can serve as an accountability partner but doesn't have to give expert advice like a consultant would.

In conclusion, a coach comes alongside the client and stimulates critical thinking in regards to their self-identified need and provides support. They are needed in every corporate environment. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric and a professor at Stanford University, believes that leaders should be coaches and need to develop a coaching approach to developing leadership talent within organizations. Coaching is not just a fad and those who are successful will understand the difference in their role from counselors, mentors, and consultants. Strategic developmental coaching can make businesses and organizations more successful because it is responsive and reflective versus reactive. They should also have some knowledge and skills about the similarities and differences between the practices.

Counselors apply principles of mental health, psychology and human development in order to promote holistic wellness, personal development, emotional well-being, and healthy behaviors. Their focus is on healing wounds from the past. A mentor is committed to the growth and development of less experienced individuals. They typically are chosen within the same field or have knowledge and experience in a specific area. The consultant is paid to share their expertise in strategic professional or organizational change and improvement. "Counseling or therapy deals mostly with a person's past and trauma and seeks healing. Consulting deals mostly with problems and seeks to provide information, expertise, advice, strategies, and methodologies to solve them. Mentoring deals mostly with succession training and seeks to help someone do what the mentor does. Coaching deals mostly with a person's present and seeks to guide him or her into a more desirable future" (Menendez &Williams, 2015).

Thank you for the opportunity to join you in your journey.


Collins, G. (2014). Christian coaching: Helping others turn potential into reality. Tyndale House.

Engström, T. E. (2003). Sharing knowledge through mentoring. Performance improvement, 42(36-42).

Hudson, F. (2008). the Context of Coaching. Developmental Perspectives and Organizational Coaching, 6.

Hunt, J. M., & Weintraub, J. R. (2006). The coaching organization: A strategy for developing leaders. Sage Publications.

Menendez, D. S., & Williams, P. (2015). Becoming a professional life coach: Lessons from the Institute of Life Coach Training. WW Norton & Company.

Welch, J. (2005). Jack Welch. Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

Pre-marital Counseling and Wedding Policy

Congratulations on your engagement! This is such an incredibly exciting time in your life. As you embark on the adventure of marriage, we welcome this opportunity to share in your joy. Please know that our heart’s desire is to help prepare you for a marriage that not only survives but thrives in the love of God.

We look forward to connecting with you and doing all we can to enrich your relationship as a couple and with God. The following information has been assembled to help you take your next steps of preparing for your wedding and your life together. A major part of the process is your involvement in a premarital counseling program. It is designed to help you grow in ways that will help you experience a successful and happy marriage.   Please read the following information carefully. If after reading this material you would like for us to schedule the marital counseling sessions, please submit the attached the pre-marital counseling questionnaire and contract for services.  You will need to make a copy for your fiancé to complete also.  Please return the completed copy before your first session.  We will need to schedule a minimum of six one hour sessions.  The following evenings are available between 5 and 7 p.m.  Sessions are held at our home office which is located at 4895 Medlock Trail Court Snellville, GA. The fee for the counseling service is $150 for six sessions. You may pay with debit or credit card as indicated in the contract or make your check payable to Pastor Emmanuel Penn and mail to P. O. Box 392006 Snellville, GA 30339. 

Topics covered include God’s plan for marriage, communication, finances, the sexual relationship, and other practical matters. We take time to explore how your family of origin, personality, and expectations affect your marriage. This happens through discussion, information inventories, and outside reading.  Due to the serious nature of the sessions both of you will need to attend each session and we can reschedule only one session. Childcare is not provided.

Please know that all interactions between the clients and counselor are confidential. Unless we have permission, we will not discuss anything that transpires between us with anyone. There are three major exceptions to confidentiality. Georgia Law requires all professionals to report:

Incidences of child or elder abuse.

Intent to commit suicide.

Threats to do harm to yourself or another person.

While it is our legal responsibility to report any of the above incidents, it is also our personal and ethical responsibility to help you find a Christian therapist in your area should such thoughts occur.   I look forward to speaking with you.

In Christ’s service,

E. Mike Penn 

Family Development Specialist

Please download the policies and questionnaire.  The completed questionnaire must be returned before sessions begin. 

Pre-Session Questionnaire

Pre-Marital Counseling

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Relationship Coaching for Couples

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Appointment date and times will be confirmed by email once the agreement is received.

Coaching Agreement

Professional Coaching

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Discover Your Love Language

Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

Discover Your Personality Style