Coaching vs Psychotherapy: Which one is right for you?

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As a Coach, my job is to help individuals take information and skills that they already have and (1) make decisions about which changes they would like to make, (2) develop a personal action plan in order to make those changes, (3) implement the action plan and make behavioral changes, and (4) develop strategies to maintain the changes made. I will support, encourage and help clients stay “on track” toward their goals.

Although there are some similarities between coaching and therapy, I will not conduct therapy with my coaching clients. These are different activities and it is important that clients understand the difference.

Coaching is a service in which individuals come to me for help in making decisions and implementing them in order to achieve goals that they decide for themselves. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is a health care service for which clients receive a mental illness diagnosis and may obtain insurance reimbursement as their plan allows. Its primary focus is to help clients identify and recover from emotional pain and trauma. The goals usually include alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying personality dynamics which create symptoms, changing dysfunctional behaviors and developing healthier coping skills to deal with their psychological problems.

In psychotherapy, clients are often emotionally vulnerable. Past life experiences are often discussed and very intimate personal information is disclosed. This does not occur in the coaching relationship. The roles of a coach and therapist are very different. Therefore, as one’s Coach, I will not also be one’s therapist. This means that if either one of us recognizes that the client has an issue that would benefit from psychotherapy, I will refer or direct the client to the appropriate resources. In some instances, I may insist that the client enter psychotherapy as a condition to continue coaching and in some cases that I, as the coach, have a release to speak with the client’s psychotherapist as well.

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