COACHING |vs| Therapy

What is Coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve;
  • Encourage client self-discovery;
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; and
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable.

How is coaching distinct from therapy?

Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow through.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?
There are many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach, including but not limited to the following:

  • There is something at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity), and it is urgent, compelling or exciting or all of the above;
  • There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence, or resources;
  • There is a desire to accelerate results;
  • There is a lack of clarity, and there are choices to be made;
  • The individual is extremely successful, and success has started to become problematic;
  • Work and life are out of balance, and this is creating unwanted consequences; or
  • One has not identified his or her core strengths and how best to leverage them.

Credit: International Coach Federation (ICF). http://www.coachfederation.org

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