Differences Between Psychotherapy and Professional Coaching


(The follow information is from The Coaches Training Institute manual)

Coaching: Views both parties as naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Does not diagnose or treat.
Therapy: More apt to view the clients from a medical model. Diagnoses and treats.

Coaching: Trained to work with functioning clients.
Therapy: Trained to work with major mental illness. (and also functioning clients)

Coaching: Coach and clients on a peer basis.
Therapy: Hierarchical difference between therapist and clients.

Coaching: Partnership, goals, plans, and the alliance designed by coach and client together.
Therapy: Treatment plan largely designed by therapist.

Coaching: Focus on evolving and manifesting potential. Moving forward. Action.
Therapy: Focus on healing and understanding.

Coaching: Emphasis on present and future.
Therapy: Empasis on past and present.

Coaching: Action and ‘being’ oriented.
Therapy: Insight oriented.

Coaching: Solution oriented.
Therapy: Problem oriented.

Coaching: Explore actions and behaviors that manifest high self-esteem.
Therapy: Explore genesis of behaviors that create low self-esteem.

Coaching: Regard and coach negative self-beliefs as ‘Saboteurs’ (temporary obstacles).
Therapy: Analyze and treat origins and historical roots of negative self-beliefs.

Coaching: Coach and client ask: “What’s next/What now?”
Therapy: Therapist and client ask: “Why and from where?”

Coaching: Discourages transference as inapporpriate.
Therapy: Encourages transference as a therapy tool.
(Definition of Transference)

Coaching: Accountability and ‘homework’ between sessions held as important.
Therapy: Accountability less commonly expected.

Coaching: Contact between sessions for accountability and “wins” expected.
Therapy: Contact between sessions for crisis only.

Coaching: Uses coaching skills.
Therapy: Uses therapy techniques.

It should be acknowledged that the difference between some types of therapy and coaching are not always clear-cut. Many therapists are ‘coach-like’ in their orientations and the two do share some common ground. Both disciplines can be working with functioning individuals who are facing difficult situations. Both professions focus on helping people make changes and accomplish goals that really matter to them.


Coaching: Uses a “Discovery Session.”
Therapy: Uses a Diagnostic Interview/History.

Coaching: Uses many skills similar to therapy.
Therapy: Uses many techniques similar to coaching skills.

Coaching: Works with the client’s whole life.
Therapy: Works with the client’s whole life.

Coaching: May work with emotional material.
Therapy: Often works with emotional material.

I apply all of the above coaching methods into my my professional coaching practice. I am a professionally trained coach and a graduate from The Coaches Training Institute, an International Coach Federation Accredited Coach-Training Program. Training courses approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. CTI is the largest in-person coach training school in the world and was also the very first organization accredited by the International Coach Federation.

Without professional coaching training, the same results can not be expected.

Jeremy J. Ulmer, Professional Coach, Sales Coach, Executive Coach, Sales Mentor, Business Coach, Life Coach

Tags: Business & Life Coaching, , executive coaching, Professional Coaching, , therapy vs coaching

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