Coaching or Therapy?

Common questions I get asked are "What is the difference between coaching and therapy/counselling?" and "Should I book in for coaching, or therapy?"

My short answer to the question is - come in for a session.  It will quickly become clear as we work whether you need therapy, coaching or a blend of the two.  The first session is much the same anyway - getting to know you, gathering information and getting a sense of where you are and where you want to be.

It is useful however to discuss the similarities, differences and relationship between the two:

In basic terms, coaching assumes a client who is basically sound and whole, who has something they would like to improve, or something they would like to achieve.  A project, a business plan, life goals or financial abundance, for example.  It would be like a healthy athlete who wants to improve his football or achieve a new level - play for a higher grade for example.  The coach would train and support the athlete to improve his fitness and skills, through weekly sessions and homework.

On the other hand, therapy assumes there is some pain or problem, a client in some distress - anxiety, depression, relationship breakdown, for example.  The aim is to end the suffering, fix the problem, save the relationship.  This would be like an athlete with a knee injury, who can't play and needs to see a physiotherapist.  The therapist would also perhaps work with weekly sessions and homework, until the client could run again.

The distinction seems clear.  However, the athletic coach and the physiotherapist have many overlapping skills.  And many athletes will be working with both at once, with the balance varying depending on the season and the state of the athlete's body.

In addition, sometimes a problem does not become evident until someone tries something new.  If a coaching client is not following through with assigned tasks, this could because a fear or anxiety stops them.  Working through this is a therapy process.  So, a good coach must know some therapy.

On the other hand, a client may come in for therapy for anxiety.  As their anxiety departs, they may start to set some larger goals, and being coached to achieve them is the final part of the therapy.

I find that my most successful client outcomes come when therapy and coaching are woven together, a magic dance of two ideas that together are more powerful than either one alone.  So don't let the question stop you - come in and get started!