DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN COACHING AND THERAPY

Williams (2003), who was a practising psychologist and is now a coach describes psychotherapy as a talking treatment conducted by a trained individual with the aim of helping a client relieve their distressing symptoms. Coaching, on the other hand is described as “a powerful human relationship where trained coaches assist people to design their future rather than get over their past … coaches aid clients in creating multiple strategies to support achieving these goals” (p4). According to Hart, Blattner and Leipsic (2001), coaching is not about pathology, diagnosis, and treatment of human frailties, it is the study of human potential and possibility and therefore related more closely to positive psychology, a new movement in psychology which is gaining a great deal of momentum because of its focus on the adaptable, healthy and positive aspects of humanity. Coaching conversations are much more structured and task-focused with clear actions articulated, whereas therapeutic conversations tend involve the expression of feelings and emotional processing and is an undefined process of uncovering and discovery.

“Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customise their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.”

International Coaching Federation

 

Hart, V., Blattner, J., & Leipsic, S. (2001). Coaching versus therapy: A perspective. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practise and Research, 53, 229-237.
Williams, P. (2003). The potential perils of personal issues in coaching. International Journal of Coaching in Organisations, 2, 21-30.