coaching or therapy?

coaching or therapy

Therapy

There is some overlap between therapy and coaching. However, there are some important distinctions between the two. The principal aim of therapy is to help relieve people of psychological suffering or pain. Therapy typically focuses on healing and recovery. Clients presenting for therapy generally have reduced levels of functioning. Support may involve assessment and diagnosis of the presenting concern. The treating Psychologist may be working with a medical team to support the individual’s recovery. Therapy will often involve retrospective discussion and reflection in order to support people to understand why or how they have arrived at this point in their lives. Psychologists providing therapy offer evidence based interventions which typically involve practical strategies to help relieve psychological symptoms.

Coaching

On the other hand, the principal aim of coaching is to support people to thrive or excel in their lives. Coaching will typically be future focused. Clients presenting for coaching are generally functioning well in their lives and seeking to enhance their lives in some way. Discussions in coaching tend to be achievement and goal focused. In coaching, clients are seen as the experts in their lives. The role of the coach is to help clients uncover their own strengths and personal values in order to guide committed action towards a desired future state. Similar to therapy, coaches provide practical strategies to clients. However, the aim with coaching by providing these strategies is to support clients onto higher levels of performance rather than to help relieve psychological symptoms. People seeking out coaching may be seeking to improve their performance in a range of different areas such as career, relationships, or health.

Why use a Psychologist for coaching?

In Australia, the title of “coach” is unregulated. That is, anyone can call themselves a coach without requiring any base level of training or qualifications. As such, skill level and quality of coaches can vary considerably. In contrast, Psychologists require a minimum of 6 years training in order to use the title of Psychologist. Psychologists are seen as experts in human motivation, behaviour, thoughts and change. As the discipline of Psychology is regulated and a science based discipline, the strategies and techniques employed in the field must be evidence-based. This makes Psychologists ideally suited to be effective coaches.

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