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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

What’s the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching?

This question comes up frequently, what’s the difference between coaching and therapy?


The answer applies equally to both strands of coaching used in my practice: Life Coaching and Executive Coaching. Coaching aims to help people who are already functioning at ordinary or higher levels when they work through life’s ups and downs.

Executive Coaching is about optimization, making more efficient use of your well-established skill set. It’s a form of fine tuning used to feel better about your career and significantly reduce stress levels while enhancing leadership skills.


A colleague of mine, a licensed therapist, said life coaching can be more direct and get to the heart of the question faster while being safe. Coaching clients want a better life, to up their game and maximize their potential.


Both build trust and rapport.


In the field of therapy (psychotherapy), when a person experiences emotional discomfort from mental illness it is measured as functioning below what you’d consider ordinary levels. In this case, behavioral patterns and thoughts that interfere significantly and chronically with daily functioning.

The goal of a therapist is getting people to a functional state: out of suffering, processing trauma or helping them keep a job, with an emphasis on maintaining a therapeutic framework and diagnosing the problem.


In some cases, an active coaching client also sees a therapist; this is complementary and works very well for the client once ground rules are established and the coaching modality is explained to the therapist.


That’s a succinct snapshot of the similarities and differences between coaching and therapy.

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