Life Coaching

The Difference Between Coaching & Therapy


There are differences between coaching and therapy. At the same time, they overlap in some ways, which can be confusing. That’s because coaching has been developed from the worlds of psychotherapy, counselling, sports, positive psychology and more recently, management and consultancy theory. 

Basically, you can think it of this way: coaching is an educational, self-discovery process of your potential, whereas therapy is based on the medical model that says people have psychological problems that need to be mended. In other words, coaching sees the client as healthy and full of potential. Therapy on the other hand, assumes the client is sick or dysfunctional and helps them return to normalcy. 

Check out the chart and decide for yourself what kind of help you need right now.


  • Deals with a healthy client desiring a better situation

  • Deals mostly with a person’s present and seeks to help them design a more desirable future

  • Helps clients learn new skills and tools to build a more satisfying successful future

  • Co-creative equal partnership (Coach helps the client discover own answers)

  • Assumes emotions are natural and normalizes them

  • The Coach stands with the client and helps him or her identify the challenges, then partners to turn challenges into victories, holding client accountable to reach desired goals.

  • Growth and progress are rapid and usually enjoyable.


  • Deals with identifiable dysfunctions in a person

  • Deals mostly with a person’s past and trauma, and seeks healing

  • Helps patients resolve old pain

  • Doctor-patient relationship (The therapist has the answers)

  • Assumes emotions are a symptom of something wrong

  • The Therapist diagnoses, then provides professional expertise and guidelines to provide a path to healing.

  • Progress is often slow and painful.


Chart by Patrick Williams, Ed.D., MCC