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  • Writer's pictureLori VanderBilt

What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

I get this question a lot. For me, coaching means partnering with clients where they bring their motivation and hope for what’s next in their lives as I listen deeply to clarify what they want. Together, we plan experiments that can help them test, learn and make progress one step at a time, using their strengths and resources. I honor the client as the expert in his or her life and believe every client is creative and resourceful.

In contrast, the goals of therapy are often related to healing. The client may have childhood trauma to work through, a difficult relationship with infidelity or lack of communication, or depression or anxiety that impacts their daily functioning. As a therapist I needed to find the diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.

Both are wonderful modalities. Both can be transformational. I loved being a therapist for 20 years, but now I refer therapy clients to my former colleagues, and coach people to find possibilities for their present and future.

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