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What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Therapy?

This article is written by Stephan Wiedner, co-founder and “Head Coach” at

A common misconception is that coaching is the same as therapy, when in fact they are quite different. Therapy is intended to help people recover from emotional or other psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety. Coaching, on the other hand, is intended to help normal, healthy individuals achieve personal goals such as increased happiness, weight loss, improved work-life balance. etc.

The table below shows a quick side-by-side comparison of coaching vs. therapy:

Client is emotionally and psychologically healthyClient is emotionally unwell and needs healing
Focuses on the present and futureFocuses on dealing with the past
Driven by goals and taking actionDriven by unresolved issues and feelings
Works toward a higher level of functioningWorks to achieve understanding and emotional healing
Results-based and focuses on exploring solutionsExplores the root of problems and offers explanation
Asks, “Where would you like to be and how can you get there?”Asks, “How did that make you feel?”
Acts on informationAbsorbs information
Done over the phone, internet or in personDone in an office setting
Coach and client collaborate on solutionsTherapist is the ‘expert’
Contact between sessions expected (accountability and wins)Contact between sessions for crisis and difficulties only