Coaching vs Therapy, What’s the Difference?
I know this can seem confusing to people so they might not know which one is right for them. Hopefully this explanation will help you decide whether or not you’re looking for therapy or for coaching.
Coaching is where a healthy client is seeking a better situation in some aspect of their personal life, home, relationship choices, or career: choosing or changing a career or moving forward in an already chosen career. Personal choice making and attitudes that keep one stuck and at the same place where they’ve been living are discovered and the client is motivated to change from an O.K. life to the life they can and will achieve through coaching.
Therapy is called a “medical model” because there is some pathology involved or what is referred to as “the presenting problem,” like depression or anxiety, that requires looking back into the past, even as far back as childhood, to discover the root causes of the problem, what caused the dysfunction in the first place and how it is currently affecting the client’s life. The therapist guides the client using various techniques until the client is free of the symptoms causing distress or can recognize the symptoms and knows what to do to help alleviate them, which leads to a more satisfying life in any or every content area, home, work, school, etc. I am required to give you a diagnosis even if you’re not using your insurance (insurance companies have to have a diagnosis). Discovering what isn’t working and how to fix it can be a slow process and can often be painful as the client works through the problem. An example of this would be when a child is raised by one or two alcoholic parents, who aren’t emotionally available, are verbally and sometimes physically abusive and, as an adult, finds himself unable to maintain a healthy, long term relationship. In fact he distrusts the world around him and isn’t really emotionally available for a relationship even though he may believe he is and can’t figure out on his own what goes wrong.
Coaching is not a medical model. With coaching the client doesn’t have symptoms that require the services of a psychotherapist. A healthy client chooses to team up with a coach in order to move toward a better situation, even getting unstuck from old habits to move forward into a successful future. In coaching, the client and I aren’t dealing with her past; instead we focus on her present and on designing a more rewarding future. With coaching I know you have the answers and I’m there to assist you in discovering and implementing them, this includes learning new skills and tools, which bring you to completion of your goals and the future you desire. I’m not your therapist. Instead, as your equal partner (the same ethical guidelines for not crossing boundaries apply in both situations); I’ll help you discover the answers you have within you but don’t know you have. Together we’ll identify your goals and challenges. You’ll work toward your goals and I will hold you accountable and cheer you on. You will fill out a work sheet where you state your goals so we both know where you’d like to go. You will have homework assignments to facilitate progress toward your goals. Coaching can be done in my office but is more frequently done via telephone which also allows “check-in” calls if needed.