Therapy vs. Coaching

Because I have a long history as a psychotherapist, I find one of the questions people ask me most is, ‘what is the difference between coaching and therapy?’. There are certainly many similarities as there are in a lot of helping professions. The people who come to both professions want change for the better in their lives. The field of therapy is much broader then it has been in the past and so you can encounter therapists who will see clients for a longer term for challenges such as early childhood trauma, anxiety disorders, or perhaps family of origin issues. Other therapists may practice from a short term model, which is more present and future oriented. Personally, when I am practicing therapy, I am client focused and may do either depending on the clients needs.

Coaching is the same. It is usually present and future goal driven and time limited but it may go on for some time as new goals are added and clients continue to reach for the fullness of life. For me, coaching is driven by where the client is today and where they want to be. There is no DSM diagnosis in coaching and there is probably less focus on the past. A therapists’ training and supervision is many years and the field of therapy is very regulated. Coaching is less regulated as a field and the training is less time as well. If you know you have been stuck for a long period of time and you know that it comes from times in your early childhood, therapy is probably what you need. If there are a number of areas in your life that you see as dysfunctional, therapy might be better for you too.

If you do fairly well in life but feel stuck in an area or are going through a transition, coaching can be wonderful. If you feel restless and know that you could be giving more and would like to live more fully, you would likely benefit greatly from having a coach to walk along side of you. Coaches help you to be accountable and move towards crafting a life that lights you up and is uniquely you. Coaching can be done anywhere by phone or zoom.

I have had coaches for years and would not like to be without one. I have just completed my re-certication in the research based High Performance Coaching Program and have 5 new spaces available. Please connect with me for a free strategy session if this is something that seems a match for you. You can do so at

Author: Lynda Chalmers

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