What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

Written by Eileen Hopkins

My road to counselling and psychotherapy has been interesting. Having worked in a caring profession, nursing for over 30 years, I was always at my happiest when interacting with my patients & I have always been a people person.

What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

The primary difference between coaching and therapy is that therapy typically deals with past trauma in a person’s life, intending to help the client understand how it’s disrupting their life today. On the other hand, coaching is typically associated with what you desire to change and how to evolve your life.

If your goal is to identify what you can do to get more clarity about a vision for your life, you are probably looking for a life coach. But, if you’re dealing with a trauma that is impeding your ability to function in everyday life, you would probably be better off working with a therapist.

What to look for in a coach?

If you’re going to work with a coach, they need to be accredited to an a coach accreditation body such as the ICF and possess an ICF credential, preferably at the ACC or PCC level.

Look for a coach that resonates with you. Your coach should clearly understand your background, lifestyle, and core values, so they thoroughly recognize your concerns, blind spots, and challenges. Do your research by reading reviews, exploring their methodologies, and verifying their credentials.

How long does coaching last?

Coaching sessions usually take place once a week or every ten days and last about an hour. The goal of any coach should be to get their client to the point of autonomy and self-actualization. When you achieve the goals for this season in your life, you should feel confident enough to create your life path while focusing on new goals and objectives.

What can a coach do for you?

A great coach is looking at the things that helped you achieve and overcome obstacles in your past so you can tap into those strengths in the present while helping you find clarity and alignment with your core values.
If you decide to seek professional help to work on yourself, your insecurities, and your goals, keep in mind that your coach does not offer solutions. When you see a coach that gives you solutions rather than things to consider when choosing a solution, that’s not coaching; that’s consulting.

Consultants give you answers. Therapists help you understand your past experiences and how they affect your present. At the same time, coaches give you the tools to plan strategically and effectively while using what’s indigenous to you to make the right decision for yourself.

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