Coaching or Therapy – What’s the Difference?

There is an important difference between life coaching and therapy or a counseling.

First, before I go on, let me be clear. I am not a therapist, or a psychologist, nor am I a psycho-therapist or a counselor and I don’t play one on TV or anywhere else.

Biggest difference between therapy and coaching

The biggest difference, or maybe the most obvious, is that Life Coaches are NOT health care professionals or provider.

That means the focus is different.

Those who do therapy are health care professionals. They usually start by looking for a diagnosis of some sort. Although not all deal with disease, and these days more and more are aiming at helping patients with lifestyle choices, they tend to think of the people they help as patients – as if something’s wrong with them that needs to be treated or cured.

Life Coaches, on the other hand, are more likely to take the person where they are and help them discover and achieve the goals they, the client want.

Therapy may be what’s needed

coaching or therapyI’m a believer in good therapy. I’ve used it myself. More than once, and may again. Finding the right therapist is often a matter of luck, and at least for me trusting my intuition. In other words I’m picky about therapists as I think we all should be.

As a Life Coach I don’t hesitate to suggest therapy if I think my client would benefit.

Here’s why I think Life Coaching is different than therapy

Here’s why I think my Life Coaching is different from therapy. I start with the premise that the client is okay and that they actually have the solutions they’re looking for right inside them.

Sure they want something or many somethings to be different than they are but they are basically fine. Even before we begin, I hold them mentally in the position of knowing what they need.

My job is to listen deeply. Then I ask all sorts of questions.

Some of the questions are simply to deepen my understanding of what, exactly, changes they want to make. Then I questions about what they are expecting from the desired change. I ask what’s preventing them from making those changes and I ask how I can help.

It’s not unusual for their solution to surface during these questions. As we begin to see what would move them in the direction they want to go we work out some accountability.

Accountability is a great too. Let’s look at a simply example. Suppose a coaching client wants to be better organized and after talking it through,  a detailed calendar of the next week or month would help. In this case to develop or at least begin to develop such a calendar is what they decide to be accountable for. If in the next session they’ve started or even completed the calendar we celebrate and move on to something else. If they haven’t we take a look at what went wrong and how it might be different.

I think it’s that assumption of mine that the client knows what they need even if they can’t see or actualize it yet that makes the real difference between therapy and Life Coaching.

What do you think?

Love and blessings,



Why do I offer a Gift Coaching at no cost to you?

Yes, like many, I offer a no-obligation Gift Coaching session to potential clients. I started this on the advice of my mentor – first as a way to practice coaching, then as a marketing method.

While both of those reasons are certainly valid, the Gift Coaching session turns out to do more, including:

  • Giving you a taste of how I coach.
  • Letting me know if I can truly be of service to you.
  • Helping both of us figure out if working together makes sense.

If you’ve looked for Life and other coaches on the web, you’ll see that many of them make the same offer, more or less. Each of us does it a little differently. I think of the Gift Coaching session as a trial run – for both of us.

What happens in a Gift Coaching call?

What we have to do is find a mutual hour we can spend together on the phone. Prior to the call I’ll send you by snail mail you some details and instructions on how to pick one issue, or problem, or… that if we together could come up with a solution would make a big difference in your life.

I like to schedule the session far enough in advance so I have time to get a physical Gift Coaching letter to you.

You’ll call me at the time we agreed.

After hellos, I’ll ask you what you’d like to talk about that would make a positive difference in your life; you’ll outline the topic if you’ve come up with one. If you haven’t picked a subject, we’ll figure it out together.

Another thing I love to ask close to the beginning our our session is for a three or four minute life history of yourself. This helps me get a real sense of where you are in your life and a picture of how you got there.

With those preliminaries in hand, I’ll usually ask you more questions.

Since I know you’re the expert on your own life, my questions are really designed to help you figure it out drawing on your own wisdom and experience. I find that much more effective than to have you look to me to provide solutions. I’m a catalyst who can often help you see the problem or issue in a new light or a new way. That new way of seeing it also tends to show solutions that hadn’t occurred to you yet.

At the end of our session, if it went well, I’ll describe how we might work together in the future.

Make sense? Great – call me at 610 434 6110 or fill out the form on the right.

Love and blessings,

Anne Wayman Life Coach