The Difference Between Coaching & Therapy

As I’ve mentioned, I recently became a Gestalt-certified coach. One of the questions I get most often is what’s the difference between coaching and therapy.

Therapy helps when there’s something preventing you from functioning well. There may be a mental illness, like major depression or OCD, trauma or loss. Sometimes you need to dive into the past but not always.

Coaching helps when you want to make a change (or are going through a change) and want guidance that doesn’t require deep, therapeutic work. We work to increase your awareness of actions and inactions, and we work on how to improve and upgrade them. We focus on the future.

Not everyone who wants help needs therapy.

In my own experience, coaching helped me develop the courage to open my own practice and to start writing. At the time, I was looking to make changes in my life. I knew I didn’t need therapy, but I did want someone who would ask me the questions that would help me figure it out, “it” being what changes to make and how to go about making them. A friend of mine suggested a coach she knew who did this work. It was exactly what I needed.

While I like to have the initial session in person, unlike therapy, subsequent coaching sessions can be on the phone (if someone is traveling, for example) or even in a coffee shop, if that’s more convenient. We can even text. I’ve had coaching clients move to other states, and I’m able to continue working with them. With therapy clients, on the other hand, I’m only licensed to provide services in Ohio.

Coaching is not a replacement for therapy. If you’re interested in learning more about coaching benefits, or if you’d like help deciding which is best for you, please contact me.