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Drawing the Line between Coaching and Therapy: What Do I Need?

We all have faced highs and lows in our lives. On days, we felt hopeless or couldn’t find any aim to move forward. Finally, however, you are ready to bring a positive change in yourself and work on your goals. Still, you can't decide who you should approach for professional help? Is coaching your solution, or is it therapy?

In order to make the right choice about your well-being, you need to understand the difference between coaching and therapy. Additionally, you should know when to opt for each of these. People, especially those who go through imposter syndrome, should keenly judge what exactly their mind and body require when choosing between the two. Imposter syndrome is when someone doubts their abilities and feels inadequate. As a result, people drown in negative self-talk, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence. Here, the decision to choose between coaching and therapy can be life-changing for the person and hence, needs to be an informed and wise one.

Moving forward, we will have an insight into the key features of both forms of professional help and the clarity over the distinction between the two.

What is Therapy?

Therapy is a long-term process where a therapist helps a client to assess any past traumas, relationship problems, complex feelings, behaviors, or any unmanaged stress. Therapists are focused on diagnosing these complications and then working on them to lessen the physical or mental burden that the client currently has.

Therapies are concerned with addressing and healing past traumas or problematic habits in order to sustain the client's future.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is generally for people who are comparatively stable with their mental states.

Coaches work with the client to clarify goals and achieve the desired results. In addition, they help the client to increase their level of performance and create effective action plans.

Coaching helps an individual fill in the loopholes, skill gaps, or blind spots in their journey. Moreover, the focus of coaching lies in the future and has less to do with the past, unlike therapy.

Coaching vs. Therapy: The Ultimate Choice!

The focus:

The focus of both these programs is different. If you are undergoing therapy, the focus of your therapist will be your past. Therapists primarily try to diagnose and heal the traumas and complexities from the past that affect your behavior today. Whereas, in coaching, the center of attention will be your future. The coach will consider your present situation as the basis for aligning your goals for the future. Thus, the coaching will entirely consist of building a better future regardless of whatever past one has had.

The ‘why’ and the ‘how’:

The fundamental question in therapy is 'why' the client behaves the way they do, what events, insecurities, emotional pain, and traumas have led to the client's current condition. Thus, therapy revolves around diagnosing and healing the 'why'. On the other hand, the coach is focused on ‘how’ to achieve specific goals. Coaching aids you in creating action plans, holds you accountable, and keeps track of your success.

The time-limit:

Therapies are a long-term process depending on the intensity of traumas and behaviors. Because it is related to one’s emotional and mental health, the process cannot be rushed. People take therapies for years or even all their life.

Coaching, however, has a relatively shorter time frame. It is directive and organized and hence tends to bear transformation comparatively quicker. In addition, coaches help their clients build skills and habits that they can practice long-term without being coached.

Can A Coach Be A Therapist or Vice Versa?

There are a lot of debates about whether or not a coach should practice therapy or a therapist should provide coaching. Although there is an overlap between the two programs, there are some things one should keep in mind while interchanging between coaching and therapy.

It is best if the two programs are distinctively catered; however, it is advised to clarify with the client if one decides to practice otherwise. The relationship and the expectations from a therapist differ from that of a coach. Hence, if a coach chooses to provide therapy sessions (or vice versa), they should make it clear to the client about the shift in their relationship and the structure of the program.

Therefore, in order to form an ethical transition from a coach to a therapist or from a therapist to a coach, it is essential to judge if they can successfully fulfill the responsibility as the other and maintain the difference in the relationship efficiently.

How Do I Know When To Choose What?

When looking for professional help, it is vital to note whether coaching will benefit you to the fullest or do you require therapy sessions?

An example to illustrate this situation better would be: if you have decided to start rigorous physical exercises, will you contact a doctor or a trainer? A doctor will help you if you have increased blood pressure, any previous injuries, or pain in the chest, etc., that might hinder your physical activity, but he might not be able to help you make a plan for your exercises. On the other hand, if you feel you are already physically fit and healthy, you will hire a trainer for yourself who will assist you in planning your gym routines and workouts.

Similarly, a therapist will aid you in understanding your previous pains, stress, traumas, etc. If you feel you are emotionally unhealthy and something hinders your growth, or a past trauma hasn't left you and still impacts your lifestyle, or an unknown force drives you towards stress and anxiety, you should consult a therapist.

However, suppose you feel you are emotionally healthy and maintained but cannot focus on achieving your goals or you feel stuck in your journey. In that case, You can take the help of a coach who guides you on how to set a path that is achievable, organized, and purposeful.

In conclusion, therapy and coaching play a crucial yet distinct role in an individual's journey. Therefore, it is essential to weigh what exactly suits your situation in the best way.

Frequently asked Questions

How does life coaching differ from consulting, therapy, sports coaching, a best friend?

Consulting. Life coaching can be considered a form of consulting. However, consulting is often information and expertise based. For example, you might hire a consultant to help your business with a specific problem. In which case, you’d expect your consultant to have knowledge and experience in that particular area. Life coaches, on the other hand, may or may not have a background or experience in your field. A coach is a life specialist, an expert on helping you develop all areas of your business and personal life.

Unlike many consultants who propose a solution and leave you to implement it, the life coach stays with you to help you integrate the changes, new skills, and goals to make sure they really happen. This is one reason why coaching is so effective–it is one thing to have the information and quite another to actually make the change!

Therapy. Life coaching is not therapy. Coaches don’t work on past-based issues or traumas. Life coaches are not psychologists or psychotherapists. If you start the process of life coaching, and have not resolved a past issue, then it is very likely you will be referred to work with a therapist to resolve the issue. It is very common for unresolved traumas to stop us from getting what we want in our lives. Life coaches focus on the present and the client’s goals for the future. We help people move forward and set personal and professional goals that will give them the life they really want. Most life coaching clients are healthy, successful people who might be a bit stuck or simply want to make a big change in their lives and want the support of their own personal coach to do so.

Sports. Life coaching often includes principles from sports coaching, such as being your best, doing more than you think you can, working with a team, going for the goal. But unlike sports coaching, most professional coaching is not a competition. Your life coach will help you win in your own life!

Best friend. A best friend or two or three is wonderful to have. But is your best friend an objective professional who you can trust to advise you on the most important aspects of your life or business? Sometimes our friends can’t tell us the truth as much as they would like to because they don’t want to risk losing the friendship. A good life coach is never afraid to tell you the truth and is willing to be fired at any time. Why not have a best friend and a life coach?

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