• Coaching or Therapy?

    What is the difference? AND Why does it matter?

    Both are services and it's true, there is a lot of overlap. Both include a desired outcome, a helper, a client and typically include payment transactions. You might wonder why it matters about the distinction as long as you are getting the help you need. It does matter, however, because expectations influence satisfactory outcomes.

  • Imagine for a moment...



    Imagine that as a kid, you secretly overhear your parents planning to get you a puppy for Christmas. You are going to gear your expectations a certain way. You might check out some books from the library about caring for puppies. You might ask your friends who have puppies if you can play with their dogs as you anticipate your own. You might think of the perfect name and daydream about all the fun you will have with your furry friend.

    And now imagine...

    that it's Christmas day and you're so excited to meet your little friend and you're opening your presents and soon you discover that the puppy you heard your parents talking about, is actually … stuffed... just let that sink in. It may even be a stuffed animal that you previously asked for and really wanted, but, compared to the anticipation of a real live puppy, I mean, do I have to go on??

    The Differences Between Therapy and Coaching

    There are many things to be said about the distinctions between therapy and coaching. People have probably written essays or even books on the topic. Seminars have been offered. Webinars attended. I am not going to cover all the ins and outs of this here but just give you the key highlights, from my perspective. Think of this as an extreme “Cliff’s Notes” version of the topic. Here's the breakdown, as I see it...

  • Ready to grow...

    • Supporting personal growth & wellbeing
    • Additional rather than necessary
    • Present and Future oriented
    • Collaborative relationship between Coach and Client
    • Coach, as a "Leading Learner"
    • Action oriented
    • Typically, a results oriented payment arrangement
    • Less regulated, allowing for greater creativity and flexibility
    • Location independent (Can be practiced or participated in from anywhere in the world)

    Sunshine after rain...

    • Treating dysfunction
    • Medically Necessary
    • Past and Present oriented
    • Careful boundaries between therapist and client
    • Therapist, as expert
    • Insight oriented
    • Typically, a time for money payment arrangement
    • Oversight by licensure boards and state regulatory committees
    • Location dependent (Therapy may only be practiced in the state or states in which a therapist is licensed)


  • And The Similarities...

    As previously stated, there is plenty more that could be said on this topic. And, of course, these are generalizations and meant to be taken as such. Some coaches, for instance, might pay attention to the past in their work with clients. Some therapists might help clients look to and plan for the future. I certainly do, in both respects. Actually, it is probably fair to say that a lot of what coaching or therapy end up looking like depends on the personality of the particular therapist or coach. But, in general, the above list should give you an idea of some of the most important distinctions.

    I’m excited to be able to offer coaching in addition to my clinical practice, because I believe it to be the missing link that will allow for deeper transformation and forward movement for my clients.

    The Bottom Line


    The bottom line is that there is grace. Each person is unique and we need to allow for this with variety of helping options. The best way to discern what might be most appropriate for you is to have a conversation with the therapist or coach that you are considering working with and let them help you to consider all the angles. They know more about their unique ways of working with people and you know more about your particular needs, so together you have the best opportunity of coming up with the most helpful way forward for you.


    If you'd like to have this conversation with me, please click below to schedule a complimentary strategy session today. Together we'll consider what would be most helpful to you in your current circumstances and you'll leave our call with clarity about your options and greater confidence about taking your best next step.

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