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Therapy vs Coaching


The Therapist

A therapist primarily addresses clinically diagnosable problems associated with mental health and trauma for individuals dealing with some form of dysfunction or disorder. They work with their patients to identify challenges through a diagnostic structure, typically based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).


By focusing on psychopathology, emotions, and the past, a therapist attempts to alleviate symptoms through counseling and, at times, prescription medications. The desired outcome is a shift in behavior or result – as defined by the therapist – frequently addressing physical or emotional pain, dysfunction, and conflict within the individual or a relationship they hold. To achieve this goal, the therapist focuses on past issues to improve their client’s capacity in the present.

The Coach

A coach does not rely on a pre-defined definition of normalcy. As the client, you inform the process and lead the way holistically. The coach uses powerful questioning to help you recognize and leverage your strengths and resources then self-create your desired outcomes. Client-stated goals often address aspects of personal or professional development and improvement.

Unlike the therapist, upon whom patients often remain dependent for extended periods of time, a coach builds your capacity to be your own changemaker – exponentially, in every aspect of your life. A coach focuses on visioning and success in the present to move you into the future.


Coaching relationships are shown to produce desired outcomes among well-functioning clients and do not involve the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. Nor is coaching a substitute for counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, mental health care, or substance abuse treatment.

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