Coach or Therapist?
I am often asked, “What is the difference between a Coach and a Therapist?” After doing some research, which includes information provided by International Coach Federation (the governing agency for coaches), I feel that I finally have an answer that I can confidently share with you.
Let’s begin by addressing the differences between coaches and therapists. The Health Coach Institute provided the following chart to demonstrate the main differences between coaches and therapists.
As I look over this chart, I notice three differences that are important to me. First, as a coach, I am collaborating with my clients; I am not “the boss.” As I extend suggestions, support and accountability, the client chooses the options they are drawn toward for healing and forward progress. We decide on the path together.
The second important difference I notice is that I maintain an emphasis on the present and the future; as a coach, I do not dig up the past. I believe that healing does not have to be as dramatic as the past hurts were traumatic. Healing cannot happen when we are at war; healing happens when love and peace are present.
The third difference is that I base all sessions from an action and solution oriented perspective; we do not use our time together locked to the problem. I offer relief to my clients by helping them take action toward the changes they want to make in their lives. That’s when they begin to take their future in their own hands. Every personal experience they have with the very things they want in their lives motivates them to keep going.
Now, let’s look at the similarities between a coach and a therapist.
There are beautiful cross-over characteristics for both coaches and therapists. When I consider the way different individual professionals interact with clients and what types of theories and skills they are more inclined to use with their clients (based on personal preferences), I notice that there are coaches who are “therapist-like” in their orientations and therapists who are “coach-like” in their methods. Both disciplines work with people who are facing difficulties in their lives and who want change.
As we consider the differences and similarities between coaches and therapists, I feel it is important to share that there are specific needs that require therapy and there are also needs that are best fit for coaching. However, the two are not exclusive. As a coach, I am well trained to identify situations and experiences that that require a higher level of care. I love that as a coach, I get to work closely with therapists to facilitate healing and forward progress in our shared clients.
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