The Difference Between Coaching and Therapy?

Are coaching and therapy not the same?

 How to make sure that you find the right structure for you!

​ In this blog...

  • What is it that you are looking for?
  • The difference of coaching and therapy
  • How to find your style of ....

Although it can be very difficult to truly define the difference between coaching and therapy as each coach or therapist that you will work with will have their own style, In this post will will look at some of the main factor that separate the practices. Though this should only be used as a guideline as a highly skills practitioner will very often intertwine both styles as and when you need them.  

What is it you are looking for?

Looking in? Or growing out?
To determine if coaching or therapy is better for you it is first important to ask yourself... what are you trying to achieve on your journey!
Firstly are you wanting to understand your past or to let go of past challenges such as guilt, trauma or shame based beliefs that may be painful?
Or are you feeling quite balanced in your energy and looking to learn more skills to expand your life into new areas such as a career, health or connections?

This is a vitally important area to cover before looking to hire a coach or therapist as if you are not clear in your own mind what it is you want you may appear to give mixed messages about your outcome. A skilled practitioner can help define what you really need as opposed to what you think you need (if you are not sure) but you can often save yourself time by reflecting on this upfront!

The difference of coaching and therapy

Again as mentioned this can be a hard area to define given that many practitioner can use style which can incorporate both, but as an outline here is a definition...

A coach (life coach, business coach, relationships coach etc...) will often be aiming at helping you create a goal or aim and then helping you move forward towards achieving those goals or aims. It is not the coaches role to 'tell' a client' what to do, but to ask strategic questions and offer strategies that can help their client move forwards.

Very often 'coaching' is predominantly about 'how can I get to my goal' rather than reflecting on 'what is holding me back'. Although this can be a highly valuable skills to adopt in certain situation and if the inner mind is at peace, just using this one style can sometimes lead to challenges down the road if. Sometimes achieving external goals and aims (a top level career, finance relationships etc..) can actually become a co-dependence and hold the person back in the long term 

As many people are never taught about how to understand the world when young, challenges can turn life upside down leaving suppressed or raw and painful memories that  bury themselves deep within a persons mind. These memories can then project themselves out into the persons world creating coping strategies and anxieties which distort reality as they know it.

Whereas coaching is predominantly about taking action to move forwards and achieve, therapy as a general is very often about self reflection and understanding what maybe held deep within the mind. This can sometimes be a sensitive area and can require high level skill from the therapists side to know which question to ask and when and also when to speak and when to be silent and give their client space. Therapy is more angled towards letting things unfold rather than pushing hard, as in therapy, pushing hard can often do more harm than good.

The pros and cons...

As mentioned earlier, a skilled practitioner can often merge both coaching and therapy providing they have the required knowledge and skills! Please note that a practitioners 'qualifications' are not always a true reflection of their skills. 
The practitioners skill and ability to be able to define a clients needs is not always something that can be learned in class but often comes from working with many types of people and getting to know subtle ques. 
This is why it is essential to do your research first as although ideally the practitioner would be able to guide you, it is important to have a base understanding of your own needs too.   

Personally I have always felt that a mixture of both is an ideal mix. For example if a person was to only go go go and look to achieve everything although this could be a great thing and bring many fulfilling experiences, who is to say that they are not trying to cover something up and keeping themselves busy so they do not look within at something painful. 
However on the other hand, therapy and self reflection can be a truly essential step to inner peace, letting go of trauma, finding your true self so you can discover what it is you really want as opposed to what you think you want to cover something up. Though going through therapy also requires awareness...sometimes people have been known to use endless therapy for many years and don't seem to get anywhere. Sometimes by asking too many questions... we forget to live!


As you can see, the lines between coaching and therapy can be blurred. Just sticking to one style can sometimes hold you back as each style has an aim, but to get maximum results a balance is needed. If a person were to just achieve and never reflect they lose sight of themselves...though if a person were to just self reflect but never go out there and experience life...they lose sight of the external world.
My advice is to mix and match, try new style rather than just sticking to one, but also if one style is needed more than another at a particular time, then go with that. See coaching and therapy as tools in a toolkit. The more tools you have the more options you can create.

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