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Coaching + Therapy - What’s the Difference?

Updated: Jan 13

The most simple and concise way of discerning the difference between a coach and a therapist is that:


Coaches are present to future-focused. Our most basic (and exciting) question is, ‘What do you want to create?’


Therapy is present to past-focused. With your therapist, you’ll explore the inquiry of, ‘What happened back there, that’s still influencing me today?’


Many of my clients have a psychologist they are working with or have just finished up some work with - the two modalities support each other well, in fact, more and more psychologists, social workers, and counselors are coming to get coach training as it’s such a good integration into their practice.


Well-trained and certified coaches (please check to ensure the coach you work with has been trained by a credible institution like Canada Coach Academy and holds an International Coach Federation accreditation) believe and embody:


  • You hold your own, aligned good answers

  • You are the expert in your life


See the following breakdown from Forbes, in 5 Differences Between Coaching and Therapy

  1. Past vs. future: A coach looks at your present to help you create the future you desire, while a therapist looks at your past to help you manage your present. Clients who keep talking about the past may need healing and support from a therapist.

  2. Diagnosis vs. co-creation: Therapists diagnose disorders and work with traumas, while in coaching, the solution is cocreated between the coach and the coachee. The coach doesn't tell the client what to do but asks questions and facilitates their thinking process to maximize their strengths and resources.

  3. Relationship patient vs. equal: in therapy, the relationship is between doctor and patient who needs to receive treatment, while in coaching, both client and coach are considered equal, there is no hierarchy or anyone who knows better.

  4. Focus on understanding and healing vs. empowering to create solutions and action plans. Therapy is focused on understanding the past and healing traumas. The coach is focused on learning from experience and creating solutions or baby steps to thinking and acting in different ways and moving forward.


If you’re thinking about getting a coach, ask yourself these questions - do you have an idea of what you want in the future? Are you dissatisfied with something that you want to change? What are you willing to do to move into what you want to create?


The magic of coaching is that I hold space and ask powerful questions for you to explore before-unseen possibilities and opportunities. You will come up with your aligned, authentic next steps - steps that you believe in and are motivated to do.


Still have questions? Click here to book some time with me.

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I'm Kelly

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