How Coaching is Different from Therapy

Relationship coaching is a professional client-focused service. The individual or couple is assumed to be healthy, powerful, and able to achieve relationship goals with effective support, information, and guidance. There are significant and sometimes contrasting differences between therapy and coaching. These differences better highlight the strengths of coaching.

In short, coaching is a results and goal-oriented methodology. Coaching assumes the client is functional and fully capable of success. Meanwhile (psycho)therapy is a healing profession trained and licensed to diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and psychological disorders. Coaching and therapy can complement each other very well. It could be said that coaching starts where therapy ends, making coaching a good fit for personal growth-oriented therapists.

Assumes the client needs healingAssumes the client is whole
Roots in medicine, psychiatryRoots in sports, business, personal growth venues
Works with people to achieve self-understanding and emotional healingWorks to move people to a higher level of functioning
Focuses on feelings and past eventsFocuses on actions and the future
Explores the root of problemsFocuses on solving problems
Works to bring the unconscious into consciousnessWorks with the conscious mind
Works for internal resolution of pain and to let go of old patternsWorks for external solutions to overcome barriers, learn new skills and implement effective choices
Table adapted from Hayden and Whitworth, 1995