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In 2009, I wrote this blog post to describe some key differences between life coaching and traditional therapy/counseling. Most therapists who have a client-centered or solutions-focused practice will probably point out that my examples below are outdated, yet the traditional model still applies to this day. Consequently, as the lines between the two fields become increasingly blurred and more counselors move into the coaching arena, what distinguishes me from them? Lets take another look using some metaphors courtesy of this article in The Coaching Commons.

Broad Lines of Distinction

A therapist may be likened to an archeologist, and a coach to an architect. Traditional psychotherapy endeavors to explore and work through emotional problems, to come to the end of an old story in order to move fully to the present.  Distinctions between therapy/counseling and professional coaching include:

• Fixing problems vs. co-creating possibilities
• Recovering vs. discovering
• Personal expert vs. colleague
• Ending the old story vs. co-creating a new story
• Trauma and healing vs. goals and succeeding
• Health care provider vs. accountability provider

As we further define and clearly articulate our professional identities as coaches, therapists will better learn how to use coaches as colleagues. Both professions have a lot to offer clients and to each other.


Filed under: Coaching 101, Education, Life Coaching Tagged: Coaching vs. Therapy

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