When it comes to coaching and therapy, there can be some confusion on where each sit, and which might be the appropriate course of action.

Coaches help you to gain clarity around your present circumstances (where you are now), and what you want to achieve (where you want to go). They do this by asking lots of questions. Lots. And empowering the client to see their reality, identify their goal, and map out a realistic and achievable pathway to reach that goal.

Clients are often surprised that where they thought they were, or what they thought they wanted to achieve, was not what they initially believed. Coaching can be a real eye-opener!

Coaching can focus on your work life, your home life, or both. Indeed, most people find that what you learn in the coaching process applies to both work and private life. Which makes sense…we’re talking about improving our effectiveness, the way we go about doing things, the way we communicate and the way we manage our interpersonal relationships. These equally apply at work and in our home, family and social lives.

What coaching is not

Coaching is not a therapeutic process, and it is not a substitute for therapy.

Therapy is a long-term process aimed at identifying and resolving long-term, underlying psychological issues and challenges. It focuses on the past, exploring traumas and events that may have led to unhealthy behaviours, unhappiness, depression, stress, anxiety, addiction, relationship issues and so on. It is an important, indeed vital, process for anyone who wants or needs to address such underlying issues, and if you have any of these, or are aware or want to explore whether there are any underlying issues in your own life, then seeing a therapist would be highly recommended.

Coaching, on the other hand, can be a short- or long-term process, the aim of which is to identify life and/or work goals, the path to achieving those goals, and the obstacles that might need to be overcome in order to achieve them. Rather than looking into the past, coaching looks at where the client is now (with possible reflection on what has and hasn’t worked in the past), and uses this as the starting point on the journey to achieving goals. The coach helps to empower the client to gain clarity and insight into where they are and where they want to go, and how to get there, and then supports them along that journey.

If at any point in the coaching process it becomes apparent or suspected that there are deeper underlying issues that might need to be explored, a coach will point that out and recommend that the client consult a therapist on those matters. A coach should not delve into the area of therapy (unless they are qualified therapists themselves, and the coaching engagement agreement specifies that therapy might be a part of the coaching process. This, however, would be unusual).

Coaching and therapy are both powerful and important tools in our own personal journeys through life, but they are very different processes, with different goals and different outcomes. If you are unsure as to which process might be best for you, speaking to either a coach or a therapist will help you gain clarity. At Full Potential, we are always available for a chat to help you understand what’s best for you.