The Difference between Coaching and Therapy:  Which is right for you?

A distinction that I explain at the beginning of any coaching relationship is that I'm life and resilience coach, I'm not a therapist. As a coach, I've had specific training and I've cultivated specific skills. (In fact, most of these skills I've cultivated for more than a quarter century as a pastor.) But I am not a therapist. Therapists and coaches both engage clients in relationships to help them move towards greater wholeness and life, but those relationships are constructed and focused differently. Amy Simpson, a life coach who works with families dealing with mental illness, describes the difference between these two approaches beautifully.

Therapy is a process designed to heal, perhaps to help you move from a place of non-functioning or partial functioning to a place of full functionality. Therapy will help you explore the sources of pain that must be addressed in order to make healing possible. In therapy, the relationship is not between equals–the therapist is a healer who brings a definite set of healing arts to offer the client, who is in need of wholeness. So if you need healing or need to move beyond a place of dysfunction, therapy is appropriate. Therapy is like a tool that helps you fill in the potholes on your life’s journey, making it smoother and ready to help you move forward. If you and I form a coaching relationship and we discover significant dysfunctions that you need to address in the course of our coaching, I will help you find a therapist to assist you with become more fully functioning.


Coaching is a process designed to help you move from where you are to where you want to be. Sometimes that means I will help you find a vision for where you want to be; sometimes it means I will come alongside you to help you move toward a place you’ve already determined you want to go. The relationship is one between equals, and the power lies in the relationship itself, with both coach and client making an investment to see it produce results on behalf of the client. I bring tools as well, but those tools are to help you discover what you already have access to, not to provide resources that are not present. If you want to move toward a more fulfilling, balanced, purpose-filled life, coaching may be the right solution.


Coaching assumes you are at a healthy level of functioning and want to move to the next level; therapy will help you get healthy.

If you want to know more about this difference, or about how coaching works, I would welcome a conversation with you. In fact, if you care to take me up on a free consultative coaching conversation, I’d love to hear from you.

Regardless of where you are and whom you have enlisted to support you, I hope you are moving toward taking ownership of your purpose, moving forward, and living true.

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