Home > Coaching, Life in general, Therapy > Coaching Is Definitely Not Therapy!!

Coaching Is Definitely Not Therapy!!

Many people still don’t know what coaching is. It is even often confused with therapy. Although there are many similarities between the two professions, they diverge in core ways. I, myself, practice both; and find myself switching in mentality and even posture when I wear my coaching hat on.


So how is coaching similar or different than therapy? Coaching and therapy are based on similar theoretical constructs and practitioner-client issues (e.g. one on-one on going confidential relationship). Masterful coaches use skills from solution-oriented therapy approaches, cognitive behavioral psychology, and recent advances in positive psychology. Like therapy, coaching belongs to the helping professions. It is based on effective listening, empathetic understanding, a sincere desire to assist the individuals feel better about themselves and their lives. They similarly implement a variety of tools and strategies to facilitate progress. In addition, both professions bring about positive behavioral change and help people understand how their emotional and cognitive reactions interfere with performance, personal effectiveness, and well being.


A key difference between the two professions is the time orientation. Coaching is more focused on the future; while therapy focuses on resolving past issues. One aims at discovery; the other aims at recovery. There are several other differences between both practices in terms of: focus of attention, level of activity, and type of conversation wit the clients. On one hand, the coaching process is characterized by a focus on strengths, goals, untapped potential, and on interactions that are more active, self-disclosing, and more tied to business and work objectives. On the other hand, the process in therapy is focused more on malfunctioning, deficits, and exploring feelings and emotional processing. The course is more like an undefined wandering progression of digging everywhere. Additionally, unlike therapy, coaching has looser boundaries with clients, more use of humor, and a less care-taker role.


There are also differences in the sessions’ setting and length. While sessions in coaching can be flexible in timing and include various means like the telephone, the internet, in person meeting, or through video-conferencing, therapy sessions are normally 50 minutes, face-to-face in the therapist’s office and only in emergencies over the phone. As for the training required for either profession, therapists undergo an extensive and demanding training typically far in excess of coach training.


Recently many therapists have incorporated coaching into their practice. The other way round can’t be true for coaches. It raises a “red flag” and coaches are advised to refer their clients to therapists when any signs of mental concerns are detected. It is beyond their professional ability to handle. Other therapists have abandoned their therapeutic role all together for coaching. This is because dealing with human suffering can be draining if the therapist does not take time to routinely self-energize. I wonder if with time I will end up making such a move despite my passion to be there for those who need help in any way. Only time can tell….





  1. Karma Khatib Kraytem
    March 29, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Very enlightening. The difference is now clear.r
    Thanx jarati for both the info your practicing these skills unconditionally.


    • dddania
      March 30, 2010 at 3:47 am

      Habeebti 🙂 🙂 🙂 thanks for being a geat supporter yourself ya jarati 🙂 🙂 🙂


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