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Therapy vs. Coaching

Therapy vs. Coaching

The goal of both therapy and coaching is to help an individual address behavior patterns, beliefs and coping mechanisms.  Often called "unpacking", both therapists and coaches listen to a client's life events and support them as they grow.  The client will be presented with possible changes for optimum inner health, affirmation for what's working well and given guidance for choices moving forward.  

I've found that therapy provides a wonderful place to examine what's happened, both in the past and in present real-time situations. The client will have support to process what took place, their emotions, and other times in their lives they've experienced anything similar.  Over time, patterns of behavior and themes of response are revealed that are either helpful or harmful for the client.  This dynamic can also happen between a client and coach.  However, therapists take on a medical model and coaches take on a support model of care. 

Coaches are a great part of a client's mental health team.  Like personal trainers, they encourage, spur on, and champion a client to set personal goals and help reach them in recovering from trauma and life setbacks. 


In trauma recovery coaching, clients have often experienced a lifetime of normalizing disconnection from both self and others.  Many clients are isolated from family and support people and therefore continue to live in a state of disconnection.  Coaches provide a safe relationship for clients and a place, over time, for reconnection with another person and ultimately themselves.  

Think of therapists and other mental health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed professional counselors) as the first line of defense. They are the trauma surgeons that help a survivor work through the physical impact their trauma may have caused.  Coaches aid trauma survivors, both as a peer and as a supporter, to help them reach their personal goals for their own recovery. Coaching provides support as a person begins to take greater levels of ownership in their future.  

In a general sense:

  • Coaches do not treat, nor diagnose mental health illnesses. It is not uncommon for clients to be involved in both coaching and psychotherapy at the same time if warranted. Consultation is very possible and encouraged. 

  • Coaching tends to be more collaborative, working with clients as peers. Often goal setting is client directed. 

  • Coaches do not operate from a traditional medical model. 

  • Coaches may assign homework or have contact outside of the scheduled appointment. 

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