A Primer on Therapy vs. Coaching

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury posted a story from the Boston Globe that caught my eye.  It’s on the differences between coaching and therapy.  This is something I’ve written about extensively in the past in the books I co-authored with psychologists Ted Klontz and Brad Klontz.  It’s a good summary of the differences between the two disciplines.  You can read the story here.

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2 Responses to A Primer on Therapy vs. Coaching

  1. Amy Champeau January 20, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Hi, Rick: I wanted to comment on this article and this distinction between psychotherapy and coaching. It is true that traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on the past, but there are many current psychotherapeutic treatment modalities that do exactly what this article is stating as the focus of coaching. For example, my training in brief solution-focused psychotherapy asks the same questions as the coaches asked. The benefit of this type of treatment is that the provider is able to help the client identify and implement the changes they want to make, build on strengths, clarify goals, provide homework and accountability, and then, if the client becomes ‘stuck’ due to issues from the past, has the skills and tools to help the client get ‘unstuck’ so he/she can get back on track with changes. I have felt it critical as a psychotherapist to become trained in many different ways of helping clients create the changes they want. Sometimes we are able to work in ‘the shallow end of the pool’ where not much attention to the past is needed, just direction, motivation, accountability, decision-making, etc. Sometimes we need to work in the ‘deep end of the pool’ to help people heal from traumas, conditioning, etc., still with the vision of the future in mind. Sometimes we need to blend the two and work in the middle with a variety of approaches. When people come to me it is my job to assess their needs and offer what is necessary for them to achieve their goals. I view the comments of these coaches as an attempt to build a niche for themselves. I have used the services of coaches, myself, on a number of occasions and have benefited from this. These coaches have training as psychotherapists and have added a coaching model as a specialty. As a therapist, I do not see my job as treating ‘mental illness’ but as helping people heal, grow and achieve their goals in any area of living. Therefore, as stated above, I resent and disagree with the distinction made in the article.

  2. Damon Kulback September 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    I had to read your post twice to get the full meaning of it. I appreciate reading what you have to say. It’s too bad that more people do not comprehend the benefits of coaching. Keep up the good work.