What’s the difference between Coaching and Therapy?

Is there any difference between Coaching and Therapy? It is often a doubt that most of us have. Many of us may have attended life coaching or undergone life coaching training without knowing the difference between therapy and coaching. Some of us might even wonder whether there is any difference at all. Well, there are differences, even if they seem to serve the purpose. It is only to us uninformed that it seems to serve the same purpose actually they are two different things meant for different purposes.

Therapy is primarily meant for looking back to establish the route cause of problems. Coaching on the other hand is meant for personal evolution. A therapist focuses on helping clients overcome past problems. These problems are so disruptive that they seem to get in the way of functioning normally. These problems are generally caused by some incidents in the past. Therapists work with the client to resolve these problems by talking about the events in the past. A life coach on the other hand sets goal for the client and generally helps him move forward. He or she helps you in designing your life the way you want it to be. The life coach plays a supporting role and helps you in reaching your goal. These goals can be career oriented, business oriented or any other goal. They can be even goals for health.

A therapist is a qualified person i.e. a therapist requires a certificate to practice. They have to undergo intensive theoretical and practical sessions before they can venture out on their own. A life coach need not have any educational qualifications but there are certification programs available for them as well. It is just that it is not yet required by law for them to do so. A therapist and the client have to reside in the same place whereas for a life coach the client need not be in the same geographical location. The internet makes it easier for the life coach to stay connected with the client.

A relationship between a therapist and the customer is almost like the traditional doctor – patient relationship. The therapy sessions are held at a measured pace. It can take months and even years sometimes for a person to be completely healed. This is not the problem of therapy but the necessity of therapy. The life coach on the other hand is more like a mentor. Life coaching courses are held at a rapid pace. They usually stick to a schedule. Again this is necessary for coaching as it is a forward looking occupation.

The discussions between a client and a therapist are usually one sided. In fact, it is even wrong to say that they discuss, it is more like the client speaks and the therapist listens. It is a monologue with the client speaking. Communication is a two way business for life coaching. It works on discussions. The more the client opens, the better way the life coach can help the client.

A client goes to a therapist because he has unresolved issues. He may want to solve his problems with the help of the therapist. Sometimes, the client meets the therapist not because he or she wants to but due to pressure from family, peers or friends. This is why therapy sessions can hurt a client emotionally. This is necessary for the healing process to take place. In essence the process of therapy is all about resolving your past. It is all about letting the past go. It nurtures and strengthens a person’s life. A client goes for life coaching because he wants to go or his company sends him. This is done so as to plan for a better future. It creates more excitement than fear in the customer. A better future is not something to be afraid of. It is all about creating a future. This is a catalyst for change; change for the better.

The functions of therapy and coaching might seem to overlap but in actuality they are different pursuits. Sometimes therapists also work as coaches which might be the reason why people tend to confuse the two. They are not. They are definitely different in their own way.