Counseling has been suggested as a promising approach for facilitating changes in health behavior. The aim of this systematic review of counseling interventions for people with COPD was to describe: 1) counseling definitions, 2) targeted health behaviors, 3) counseling techniques and 4) whether commonalities in counseling techniques were associated with improved health behaviors. Ten databases were searched for original randomized controlled trials which included adults with COPD, used the term "counseling" as a sole or component of a multifaceted intervention and were published in the previous 10 years. Data extraction, study appraisal and coding for behavior change techniques (BCTs) were completed by two independent reviewers. Data were synthesized descriptively, with meta-analysis conducted where possible. Of the 182 studies reviewed as full-text, 22 were included. A single study provided a definition for counseling. Two key behaviors were the main foci of counseling: physical activity (n=9) and smoking cessation (n=8). Six studies (27%) reported underlying models and/or theoretical frameworks. Counseling was the sole intervention in 10 studies and part of a multicomponent intervention in 12. Interventions targeting physical activity included a mean of 6.3 (±3.1) BCTs, smoking cessation 4.9 (±2.9) BCTs and other behaviors 6.5 (±3.9) BCTs. The most frequent BCTs were social support unspecified (n=22; 100%), goal setting behavior (n=11), problem-solving (n=11) and instructions on how to perform the behavior (n=10). No studies shared identical BCT profiles. Counseling had a significant positive effect for smoking cessation and positive but not significant effect for physical activity. Counseling for health behavior change was rarely defined and effectiveness varied by target behavior. Provision of specific details when reporting studies of counseling interventions (definition, BCTs, dosage) would allow clarification of the effectiveness of counseling as an approach to health behavior change in people with COPD.