How Coaching Differs from Psychotherapy!
Coaching is objective oriented and an action-oriented partnership between a coach and you. That is unlike most psychotherapy, which delves into patterns of the past to heal any development impediment or traumatic experience. Coaching concentrates on where you are today and how you can reach your goals.
Coaching differs from psychotherapy since results come from a rational and more conscious thinking process involving clarifying goals, identifying limiting beliefs and providing the support to achieve necessary actions to reach your goals. Coaching is future-oriented and does not examine your past to explain the present as might a psychotherapist. Another difference is in the terminology.
Clients see their coach. Patients see their psychotherapist. What is the underlying assumptions behind this terminology?
Coaching assumes that clients are healthy and do not have any major pathology that stops them from finding rational problem-solving solutions. The coaching dialogue is more on the conscious level. Psychotherapy deals more on the unconscious level to heal developmental problems. Of course, this is a generalization and, at times, both approaches overlap. This being said pathology infers being sick, and the relationship is not an equal one, unlike the coaching partnership. The psychotherapist is there to cure a patient. The coach is there to support the person in reaching their objectives.
When is coaching inappropriate?
Coaching is inappropriate when a patient has a recurring psychological problem or an addiction. For example, a drug addict is dependent on the person’s drug addiction and, for this reason, you cannot assume that the person can find their own solution. In this situation, a psychotherapist is the appropriate person to contact or a counselor specialized in drug addiction. Once the drug addict is no longer one, then only is coaching a great option to help the ex-addict to rebuild a new lifestyle, with new friends and to develop new interests.
Leadership coaching is having an impartial sparring partner to challenge your thinking and support you in reaching your goals. Dr. Katrina Burrus, MCC
For more information, you can check out our leadership coaching programs or talent development programs and access our free podcast on Excellent Executive Coaching and subscribe on iTunes.
I shall update these series of blog post weekly on the Top Coach Blog, so make sure you check back on a regular basis! Next week I will review the difference between coaching and mentoring. If you do not agree with the above, please leave your comments and let us start a conversation!
As a psychotherapist for twenty years in a former life and currently an executive team coach in my so-called retirement, I find your descriptions a bit black and white, when all I see in my reality is gray. Much depends on the schools of therapy and of coaching. I find the Brief Systemic Therapy paradigm very similar to the Solution-Focused and Appreciative Positive Psychology paradigms. Of course they are for different clientele (few self-respecting therapists call their clientes “patients” nowadays) although I do find the approaches very similar.
Great comments! The rough generalised definitions serves precisely as a platform for discussion!!! Those in a psychiatric clinic are called patients. Please do explain more how you see the finer definitions of gray. How do you see the different interventions needed between heavy psychiatric cases, and cases that are better served by Solution-Focused and Appreciative Positive Psychology? I would love to have your opinion.
Interesting topic, especially concerning “leadership” where I personally find manifestations of psychological disorders or dysfunctions all too prevalent in France where I live. (Is it a function of national or corporate culture, or both?) Narcissistic personality disorder, for instance, is almost the very definition of French leadership. It’s hard to coach executives confronted with NPD bosses, other than to encourage them to find new jobs. There must be some kind of law that says that rank in hierarchy is proportionate to neuroses. Unless systemic coaching is possible, it seems unlikely that individual leadership coaching can remedy most corporate situations.