Having a thing for learning made me study and invest in several training opportunities (and books). I can say I’m lucky for having the opportunity to practise both coaching and therapy as I know many people have one or both as their career or educational goals. In this blog post I will try to explain whether there are differences between these two modalities and, if so, which one is better.
Being on both sides, I can say with confidence that coaching and therapy are two different ways of helping and supporting people – and none is better than the other. It all depends on what you are looking for and how you would like to be supported. Thus, a coach and a therapist do share some of the same professional skills (e.g. listening, questioning) but they serve different needs and roles.
While therapy is focused on looking to the past in order to understand the root cause of a client’s problem, coaching invites people to look to the future, to the design and implementation of solutions. How do you know, though, which one should you go with? To find that answer, you will have to be honest with yourself and know a few more things about the differences between coaching and therapy.
Coaching is meant to empower you. What does this mean? It means that we literally want you to find and shine your own power as a unique person. To do so, we can be sometimes a bit ruthless and ask you the most difficult and yet thought provoking questions. A coach is there to make you move forward and they work side-by-side with you. Coaching is definitely for you if you know what your problem is and you do know where you want to arrive. The role of the coach is then to support and challenge you in your journey from A to B.
Therapy is meant to help you heal. The main goal of a therapist is to support you on your healing journey, meaning that one of the outcomes should be the management of your own pain and suffering. A therapist has a more passive role when compared to a coach, because the role of a therapist is to facilitate your own self-exploration by revisiting your past and eventual traumas. The focus is more on your emotions and feelings about past or current situations. In its nature, therapy is a much slower process when compared to coaching, meaning that it requires more time and emotional investment from the client.