Comparison Between Psychotherapy and Life Coaching

The distinctions between psychotherapy and life coaching seem to be less important to clients than they are to professionals. Depending on the client and their interests, either psychotherapy or life coaching can help. The descriptions below are especially interesting to the professions who are vying for clients and attempting to carve out unique and protected territories for practice.

Coachville R&D developed the useful comparison chart below (used by permission with credit © 2002 Coachville.com). The Coachville R&D Team say the following:

We've created this comparison chart with the help of dozens of therapists on the CoachVille R&D Team who are also experienced coaches. And, while not everyone will agree with every single word pair, it's our view that this chart does help to clarify the differences between coaching and therapy. That said, the fact is that many of the differences between modern therapy and personal coaching aren't as big as we might like them to appear. Both professionals can be working with fully functioning adults who are working through a difficult situation. Both disciplines focus on helping people make changes and accomplish goals that really matter to them. They are different ways of working; each with its own special value.

The chart suggests that "Conventional Therapy tends toward..." and "Personal Coaching tends toward..." Important words here are "tends toward..." This means these categories are not absolute. The use of the word "conventional" to describe the therapy compared is also important. Therapy has had three waves of development, each influenced by different ideas about change, unit of treatment, kinds of practices and preferences for the client/therapist relationship."Conventional" here may refer to therapy in the first or second wave. Therapists of the third wave of therapy that includes the Solution-Oriented Therapies (Solution-Focused, Narrative and Collaborative Language Systems) often consider their work to fit both the "Therapy" and the "Coaching" column. Some conversations have even suggested that "coaching" is the new "therapy" as therapy itself moves away from psychopathology and into territories of resilience, competence and client preference.

 

Conventional Therapy

tends toward...

Personal Coaching

tends toward...

personal strengthening

triage

issue resolution

why me?/why this?

overcoming obstacles

traditional relationship

unconscious>conscious level

away from

looks backward

raising standards

somewhat vulnerable

cognitive/behavior patterns

letting go

needs help

pain

past > present

needs, wants

issue resolution

driven by unresolved issues

absorbs information

feelings, discussion oriented

self understanding

nurturing, supportive

asks why

disruptive situations

usually a measured pace

no personal disclosure

patient/client

medical model

treatment

healing

presented complaints

mostly monologue

progress

was then

professional 'arms length'

behavior norms

analysis/understanding

pathology

hope

self concept

integration

diagnosis

support

prognosis for recovery

diagnosable conditions

anxiety

depression

trauma

emotional scares

addictions

compulsions

emotional issues

neuroses

psychoses

healing of emotional damage

history

self imposed limits

acceptance

conflicts

reality

restoring

healing

coping/protective mechanisms

beliefs

self responsibility

stabilize

new perspective

confidential

family dynamics

hurts

personal dynamics

weaknesses

problems

tends toward process

heal past

medical model

behavior awareness

complaints

reactions

restoration

undoing

dysfunctional>functional

focused scope

fear

personal evolution

visioning

problem solving

what's next?/what now?

sustainable flow

collaborative, equal partnership

conscious>consciousness level

toward

focuses forward

raising standards

generally open, not vulnerable

actively building

life dynamics

wants a partner

frustration

present > future

needs, wants

life design

chooses goals and actions

acts on information

more action oriented

self potential

catalyzing, challenging

asks what

tolerations

often a rapid pace

personal disclosure as useful

client

performance model

co creation

achievement

common situations

mostly dialogue

performance

is now

close, collaborative

uniqueness

possibility

experimentation/discovery

inspiration

self discovery

manifestation

self assessment

support, solutions

chance of success

everyday situations

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

related experiences

missed opportunities

flow

paradoxes

paradigms

expanding

evolving

building reserves

personal operating system

accountability

balance

new approach

confidential

organizational dynamics

works

personal style

strengths

solutions

tends toward results

create future

performance/growth model

personal awareness

tolerations

responses

enhancement

doing

functional>extraordinary

unlimited scope

excitement

 

 

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Frank Baird, LMFT, LPCC | Mindfulness Training, Psychotherapy & Life Coaching

Frank Baird offers mindfulness and meditation training, psychotherapy and life coaching for individual adults & teens, couples, families, groups, and organizations. He practices in Westlake Village, CA and serves surrounding areas including Agoura, Calabassas, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and the Canejo Valley. Frank Baird is a UCLA MARC Certified Mindfulness Facilitator.

Frank Baird, LMFT, LPCC Psychotherapy, Life Coaching & Mindfulness Training
Frank Baird, LMFT, LPCC
Mindfulness Training, Psychotherapy & Life Coaching

 

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