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What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

What is the dif­fer­ence between coach­ing and therapy?


Psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py and coach­ing have many sim­i­lar­i­ties, but also impor­tant dif­fer­ences that need to be tak­en into account.

First of all, there is one major com­mon­al­i­ty: both are there to help the per­son seek­ing help. Help­ing to find a way out of a sit­u­a­tion that is dis­turb­ing and impair­ing every­day life. The focus of both is there­fore on the per­son seek­ing help.

Clients are not only very indi­vid­ual and have dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, but have also devel­oped their own approach­es, opin­ions and have had dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences in the course of their lives. All these facets need to be tak­en into account if you want to find the right way out of a sit­u­a­tion: a coach­ing? ther­a­py? coun­selling. So how does a per­son seek­ing help find out which of the options is the right method for him or her?

It most­ly depends on the sub­jec­tive needs and beliefs of the per­son seek­ing help. In the case of very seri­ous prob­lems, ther­a­py is often unavoid­able in the long run, but some­times you can find the entry point through coaching.

Here we want to help you under­stand these dif­fer­ences in order to choose the right help accord­ing to your needs.

The first step is to assess what kind of prob­lem you have. Is it a small stone in the path that you have to move aside or a moun­tain that forces you to go off the path?

The sec­ond step is to ask your­self how you react to crit­i­cism? What kind of sup­port will take you further?

In both cas­es it is impor­tant to feel com­fort­able in the pres­ence of the sup­port per­son — ther­a­pist or coach. The inter­per­son­al con­nec­tion and the chem­istry between the two are the basis for build­ing a rela­tion­ship of trust with each oth­er. Because this is the only way to cre­ate the space in which one can open up.  The desire for change and the belief in one’s own abil­i­ties to change some­thing about the sit­u­a­tion and in the poten­tial for growth that crises bring with them are impor­tant pre­req­ui­sites for over­com­ing problems.

Ther­a­py is about work­ing on a men­tal knot that has become deeply entrenched and is not so easy to untie. Going to psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py means tak­ing time. Time to deal with one’s prob­lem, to under­stand it, to learn to deal with it and to devel­op mech­a­nisms to either solve it or to deal with it bet­ter, to strength­en one’s own resilience. The prob­lem is searched for, found, under­stood and worked on until it no longer inter­feres too much with life (although it may still exist).

The ther­a­peu­tic approach is a slow one, which aims at the per­son becom­ing aware of the prob­lem by becom­ing aware of it. With this process of recog­ni­tion, also to find out the rea­son as well as the solu­tion and the way out at the same time.

The approach is there­fore a very thor­ough work on one­self, some­times with a lot of the­o­ry, in order to put it into prac­tice. In psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py, the work is not so much on the con­crete solu­tion to the prob­lem, but on giv­ing the per­son seek­ing help the tools to be able to mas­ter these (and future) chal­lenges themselves.

The method­ol­o­gy of coach­ing is more “hands on”; this means that con­crete­ly applic­a­ble solu­tions to clear­ly defined issues are worked out more quick­ly togeth­er and at eye lev­el. Often there is less in-depth coach­ing. Which is not always nec­es­sary, because the work is active and involves prac­tis­ing new beliefs and behav­iours. As with a sports coach, a prob­lem is defined at the begin­ning of the coop­er­a­tion so that it can then be analysed and new approach­es to solu­tions found, which, with moti­va­tion and the sup­port of the coach, lead more quick­ly to suc­cess. Coach­ing is there­fore direct­ed towards the future and there is less analy­sis of the past in the process. Peo­ple who choose coach­ing are in a posi­tion to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for them­selves and their actions.

Each per­son must decide for him­self or her­self which approach appeals more to him or her. Some­times one kind of sup­port leads to anoth­er approach. But both are on the way to the goal.

Get help from our coun­sel­lors, who are avail­able free of charge, and find out what you need. Click here for your ori­en­ta­tion talk!


PS.: Please remem­ber that The Help­net is not nec­es­sar­i­ly suit­able for long-term ther­a­py. The Help­net is meant to help out in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions or on a bridg­ing (yet not tem­po­rary) basis.

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