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Differences Between Coaching and Therapy

When thinking about coaching, what comes to mind? It is common for people to compare or confuse coaching with therapy. While the two may have similarities, they are each a unique service that offers a different approach to helping people. When a treatment plan incorporates therapy combined with coaching, this comprehensive approach can greatly help individuals overcome their past and focus on the future.  

What are the key differences between coaching and therapy?

A coach offers guidance by helping clients:

  • Identify, plan, and achieve personal and professional goals.
  • Work to improve communication skills and self-confidence.
  • Achieve a work/life balance.
  • Improve relationships or provide guidance on how to navigate them.
  • Overcome challenges and life obstacles.
  • Minimize stress.

A therapist focuses their sessions on ways to:

  • Recover from past traumas or challenging life events.
  • Work through mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more, that affect the ability to function at home or work.
  • Explore the connection between life events, maladaptive beliefs, and patterns, that result in something other than authenticity and connection in relationships.
  • Survive the loss of a loved one or a divorce (managing grief). 

Furthermore, therapy focuses on helping people work through past traumas, painful events, self-destructive habits, change negative thought patterns, and repair or improve relationships. In comparison, a coach focuses on the present as a starting point to achieve future goals. A coach can help get you to where you wish to be next. Coaching can have many benefits and can encompass life coaching, recovery coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, or family coaching.

Additionally, therapy is focused on regular, long-term sessions, whereas coaching can be either long or short-term. The purpose of therapy is to focus on healing from the past. While a client works with a coach to clarify goals, identify obstacles, and create an action plan to achieve their desired results.

Another key difference is that therapists are trained to treat people who are diagnosed with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and more. Therapists go through extensive schooling to obtain an advanced degree, as well as a state license to practice (this includes an exam and a certain number of supervised hours of practice). While coaches do not specialize in treating complex mental health conditions, they can provide excellent professional support in managing symptoms and creating healthy routines. Even though coaches are not required to pass a governing board exam to become a coach, there are many extensive certification and training programs available to provide them with valuable experience and knowledge.

How therapy and coaching can work together: 

In both coaching and therapy, the main purpose is to help people in their efforts to grow, overcome their problems, and become more effective in their own lives. There can be many benefits to incorporating both into one’s treatment plan, or mental health care, as they provide different areas of support and perspective. By recognizing and overcoming past experiences that are holding someone back, they can then focus on moving forward — defining and achieving their future goals. 

Are you or a loved one struggling with a mental health condition, or looking for help with achieving future goals and accountability? At Feinberg Consulting, we offer concierge case management and coaching services through our team of highly trained professionals. We can help guide you in finding the right treatment or care options. Contact us today to learn more at 877.538.5425.

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