6 Differences Between Coaching and Therapy

by Dez Stephens, Holistic Life Coach

People believe coaching is similar to therapy. In fact, the two are very different. I have worked as a coach and trained coaches for many years now. In this article, I outline six important differences between the two, so you can decide if coaching is right for you.               

1. Coaching views clients as already whole, whereas therapy looks to resolve a past pain.

Holistic coaches view their clients as already whole, equipped with everything they need to reach their goals. On the other hand, therapists help their clients heal from trauma or negative experience.                           

2. Coaching looks toward the future, whereas therapy often looks to the past.

People seek coaching as a method for creating a new future. Coaching is about a client starting from where she is, receiving support as she does the inner work necessary to create outer transformation.

On the other hand, people seek therapy to cope or come to terms with something that happened in the past. They're often seeking tools to handle emotional issues that stem from past trauma.               

Coaching looks into the future, while therapy focuses on the past.

3. Coaching empowers the client to solve her own problems, whereas therapy offers guidance and direction.                       

As humans, we want to solve problems for our friends and loved ones. But coaching empowers people to find their own answers and the solutions to their problems. Coaches give non-directional feedback, often in the form of asking questions.

On the other hand, people seeking counseling are often looking for professional advice and direction on how to cope with something. Counselors offer directions, guiding the conversation.       

4. Coaching focuses on outer action with measurable results, whereas counseling focuses on the "inner": the conscious and subconscious mind.

The goal of coaching is to support clients in making specific changes. That is why a coach will often work with a client to create benchmarks for which the client aims during their work together.

On the other hand, counselors often help their clients identify and gain a deeper understanding of the conscious and subconscious reasons for their behaviors. Change is not necessarily the goal, here.           

Coaching will be set for a short term while therapy can take years.

5. Coaching takes place over the short-term, whereas the therapist-client relationship is often a longer-term one.               

When it comes to coaching, a client typically signs on for a certain timeframe—say, six months or a year—during which the coach will support him in reaching a specific goal or making a specific change.

On the other hand, when it comes to therapy, a client will often seek long-term support for an indefinite amount of time.               

6. Coaches don't diagnose; therapists and other mental health professionals do.       

Life coaches identify current behavior and thought patterns in their clients, and ask questions to help their clients change those patterns and move forward.

On the other hand, counselors and other mental health professionals often look to diagnose their clients with conditions that explain why they behave a certain way.       

In conclusion:

Coaching is a powerful method to support you in making the changes you want to make in your life. If you want to work on present issues and get the support to break through your limiting beliefs, then coaching may be right for you!

On the other hand, if you feel like you carry around past trauma that you want to unravel, then therapy is likely a better fit.

If coaching appeals to you, we'd like to invite you to have a look at our coaches on Coachilla.

Dez Stephens is a certified life coach, master trainer, and marketing strategist. She is the Founder & CEO of Radiant Coaches Academy - a social enterprise and prominent international coach training school which certifies individuals to create vibrant, professional, private practices as holistic life coaches, wellness coaches and business coaches. If you want to work with her, have a look at her profile on Coachilla.

This article was originally published in the Amazing Women Entrepreneurs Network

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