Isn’t Coaching Just Therapy?

Yes, my office has a couch. 


But no, I’m not a therapist. I’m a coach. 


In fact no one actually sits on my couch because all of my coaching takes place over the phone or Zoom. My clients get cozy on their own couch, and they love it because they don’t have to leave their home or get a babysitter.  Heck, they don’t even have to get dressed. 


So how do you know if you need a therapist or a coach?  I think it helps to look at a couple of important areas to see which is the right fit.


1. Focus


The focus of counseling is the past.  Trained therapists help their clients look back into the pain of their past, understand them, and heal them. They diagnose and treat mental health conditions and difficult emotional experiences. 

Many of my coaching clients have been through therapy.  I mean, who hasn’t at some point?  For years of my life, it was a line item in the budget. 

The focus of coaching, however, is the future.  Trained coaches help their clients look forward into the possibilities of their future, set goals, and reach them.  They provide tools and accountability in areas such as vision/mission/purpose, work/life balance, limiting beliefs, and career transition.

My coaches have helped me believe in miracles, accomplish BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals like writing a book and launching a third website), create deeper meaning in all aspects of work and life, understand my strengths as a blessing instead of a cure, and overcome my inner critic that wants me to believe that something is wrong with me. 


2. Purpose


The purpose of counseling is to get the client back to the baseline of general health and stable well-being.  Counseling heals your worst.  It fixes your areas of dysfunction and weakness so that you can feel “normal.” When you’re in a dark place, there’s nothing better than feeling normal.


On the other hand, the purpose of coaching is to take the client from the baseline of stability to greater levels of fulfillment.  Coaching builds your best. It grows your strengths so that you can live up to your highest level of potential at work, home, or church.

Many people believe that outside input is critical to being your best.  Pastor Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Church, one of the biggest in the country, says this,

You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.  

At some point, you will be called upon to counsel or coach the people in your lives—your friends, your children, your spouse, or your coworkers.  Sometimes they will need comfort and care, so you will need the spirit of a counselor.  But sometimes they will need clarity and challenge and you will need to act as their coach.


Here are three great coaching questions that you can use at those times:


  1. If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what are 3 things you would try?


  1. If you were to be fully authentic, what’s the first thing you would change?


  1. What would a home run in your life/job/marriage look like this week?


If you’re interested in coaching, I’d be honored to talk to you.  I do a free 45 minute inquiry session (on your own couch) to explore goals, talk logistics, and see if we’d be a good fit.  You can schedule that call here.