Welcome to our newest service at
Transformative Growth: Coaching!

Coaching vs. Therapy:
Distinguishing the Two Powerful Paths

At the crossroads of personal development, many people find themselves asking, “Do I need a coach or a therapist?” Understanding the differences is essential to make the right choice.

And, in the realm of personal growth, both coaching and therapy play significant roles. However, they’re distinct in their objectives, methodologies, and purposes. 


Let’s clear the air and differentiate the two:


🔍 Coaching: Forward Momentum and Action

Coaching is not a stand-in for therapy; it’s a distinct discipline with its own set of standards and objectives.

Focus on the Future: While therapy may delve into past experiences, coaching primarily concentrates on where you are now and where you want to be.

Action-Oriented: It’s for individuals ready to take decisive action toward specific goals or performance enhancement.

Licensed vs. Certified: Unlike therapists, many coaches are certified rather than licensed. Their training is geared towards motivating, strategizing, and driving results, not diagnosing or treating mental health disorders, substance abuse or traumas. 

A Partner in Progress: A coach partners with you to strategize, plan, and overcome current barriers, pushing you toward your optimal potential.

Examples for Coaching:

  1. Enhancing leadership and communication skills.
  2. Setting and achieving career or life milestones.
  3. Overcoming challenges like procrastination or time management.

Clinical Therapy 

🔍 Therapy: Deep Dive Into Healing

Therapy isn’t just about discussing challenges; it’s about healing, understanding, and managing one’s emotions and mental well-being. Sometimes our past hurts cause us shame, regret or inaction until we can heal those pains in therapy. 

– Healing from the Past: Therapists guide individuals through past traumas and experiences, helping them find resolution and peace.

– Mental Health Focused: Therapists are licensed professionals trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.

– A Safe, Reflective Space: Therapy provides an environment to deeply explore feelings, behaviors, and patterns to foster mental health improvement.

Examples for Therapy:

  1. Addressing persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emotional distress.
  2. Healing from traumatic experiences.
  3. Managing and understanding mental health conditions.

**Understanding the Distinct Value of Each**

Coaching is not a budget-friendly alternative to therapy; it’s a separate service for those eager to elevate specific areas of their lives. It’s about achieving, transforming, and acting. Coaching can cost as much or more than therapy and is not covered by insurance. That’s ok because coaching is typically a faster process, meeting on average 2-10 times; whereas therapy can be years-long process, meeting weekly for longer periods. 

On the other hand, **therapy** provides a nurturing space for those seeking understanding and healing. It’s a journey into one’s inner world, aiming to improve overall mental health and emotional well-being.  Often time, therapy is needed to prepare one for coaching, or in conjunction with coaching.  An example of this might be a person who sees a coach for determining how to network into a high level position, and also sees a therapist separately, to deal with the workplace anxiety that cripples them regardless of what career they are in. 

Both paths offer incredible value. Your choice between them should be based on your needs, goals, and where you find yourself on your personal journey.

Note: It’s imperative to recognize and respect the boundaries of each profession. If a coach feels a client might benefit from therapy, a referral should be made, and vice versa. Always consult with professionals in both fields for individualized guidance.

Still need help determining which is best for you? 

Take our self assessment to help you decide!

Self-Assessment Checklist:
Coaching, Therapy, or Both?

Do you want to set and achieve specific life or career goals? *(Coaching)*
Are you looking to improve a particular skill or habit? *(Coaching)*
Are unresolved past events affecting your current well-being? *(Therapy)*
Do you feel persistently sad, anxious, or overwhelmed? *(Therapy)*
Are you seeking clarity on your life direction without any specific trauma? *(Coaching)*
Do you need a safe space to talk about and process your emotions? *(Therapy)*
Are you dealing with challenges in a relationship? *(Could be both, depending on the nature of the issue)*

– Mostly 1s & 2s: Coaching might be the best fit for you.
– Mostly 3s & 4s: Consider exploring therapy.
– A mix or predominance of 5, 6, & 7: You might benefit from a combination of both coaching and therapy.

Note: It’s imperative to recognize and respect the boundaries of each profession. If a coach feels a client might benefit from therapy, a referral should be made, and vice versa. Always consult with professionals in both fields for individualized guidance.

With a proven track record spanning over 15 years in public service, Jen Brens is an esteemed authority in workplace mental health and mental health first aid training. Her diverse portfolio includes pivotal roles in nonprofit organizations, city establishments, learning institutions, and chamber bodies. A notable highlight of her service is her tenure as the president of the board for the chamber of commerce and her leadership as the executive director for a public television station.