The Difference Between Coaching and Therapy


If you’re reading this, then you’re probably interested in improving your life.

When you’re looking to take life to the next level, coaching or therapy could provide the support you need to make massive progress. It’s like being an athlete; you never see an Olympic athlete who doesn’t have a team of professionals supporting them, both coaches and physical therapists.

Coaching and therapy (counseling) are different. They are not both appropriate for you at all times.

In this post I want to give you some guidance on how to choose which is right for you. I genuinely believe both are equally valuable depending on which stage of development you are at.


Basically coaching is about increasing performance. It’s about removing internal and external barriers to the goals you have. This can include just figuring out what the goals your in the first place.

What symbolises coaching is the focus on the future. It’s about choosing the right planning and action to support future dreams, to make them a reality. Good coaching will constantly push you to change your behaviour in ways that will support quicker, more effective progress.

Different types of coaching

Coaching is a hugely unregulated and unstructured system right now. This may change in the future. I would like to suggest that you select your coach based on specific needs you have. Anyone who says they can coach you in “anything” is probably too broad and will lack specific personal experience to aide you.

Figure out the goals and the barriers. Simply put; what do you want and what is standing in your way?

For example, I specialise in helping people-pleasers (nice people who get exhausted trying to keep everyone happy) to become more authentic, confident and assertive. This is based on my own personal journey with this issue. Once I dealt with it myself, I was able to take risks, make the most of opportunities, and become a social leader, and show others how to do the same.

There are coaches who specialise in performance improvement. They will focus on your inner dialogue and mindset to remove mental barriers. This might include Life Coaches, Performance Coaches, and Mindset experts. They will focus on you finding your own answers.

There are coaches who are more like mentors, they provide practical guidance more than anything else, based on experience and training. This includes people like Business Coaches, Property Development Mentors, and Dating Instructors. They will be more likely to tell you what to do.

Great coaches will be a combination of coach and mentor.

Interested in coaching? Start with FREE access to the Confident Mindset Inner Circle – 6 episodes of Confidence Coaching online


The focus of therapy or counseling is to heal. It is based on the concept that there is some pain or trauma that you need help with. Therefore it is based on the past, undoing the damage that was caused before.

So whereas coaching is about moving forward, therapy is more like catching up after being left behind. Trauma causes a time-warp, where we get stuck in the time of the pain being caused. Therapy is about putting it behind you so you can move on; or learning how to live with it effectively.

Different types of therapy

Again, know what you need help with specifically. This is more important for therapy than coaching, because counseling and therapeutic training is very specific, and different types of trauma/disorder can have vastly different approaches for the solution.

Sometimes people have long-term conditions or disorders, like Personality Disorders, or ‘mental illness’ like schizophrenia. These require a structured long-term approach, whereas something like dysthymia (low-level depression) may only require medication for a short time.

There are many online groups and forums for each specific disorder and type of pain. I recommend joining these groups, sharing your story, and then getting recommendations on who can help you.

Avoid general counseling. Why go to a general practitioner when there are specialists who have dedicated their life to understanding the specific pain you’re in? And beware that you are vulnerable and in pain. Take a trusted friend or family member to the first session to get an objective opinion.


We all have pain in the past, and dreams for the future. Therefore we could all benefit in some way from good coaching or good therapy.

For me, a coaching client must have one crucial trait: they believe they are in control of their life. They do not see themselves as a victim of life. This victim-mindset is more common in people who will benefit more from therapy. It indicates a perceived lack of power and control.

Coaching will not benefit you if you do not believe you are in control. Therapy will annoy you if you do. So to help decide which is right for you, answer this question:

“Did I create my life, or did it happen to me?”


Quality of practitioner

Regardless of qualifications and experience, how effective a coach or therapist will be in your life depends on each of them individually. Do not be swayed by the certificates on the wall. Instead measure the actual results in your life before and after.

Check out this post I wrote about what to be wary of before signing up to a coach, because it applies to therapists too:

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Coach


The highest quality of help does not come for free. Simple as that. If you want these issues to be solved and/or for your dreams to come true, you will need to invest. Time, money and energy are just the beginning.

You’ll most likely get what you pay for. If someone is a “bargain”, you’ll probably get a lower quality of service aligned to that investment.

You will need to do the work. A counselor or coach cannot give you results. If they promise any results, eject! They can’t do that without lying. Only YOU can get results, they will simply guide you on how.

Mix it up

Don’t stick with one coach or therapist for years. I see this all the time, particularly with counseling. It’s a sign of weakness in the coach or therapist if they’re unwilling or unsupportive of you trying different approaches on a regular basis.

Synergy is important for growth. Get lots of different people to contribute, take what you found effective from each and discard what did not work. That said, this is not an excuse to bail after just a couple of weeks. Again, just keep measuring the progress you’re making in an objective way.


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