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  • Writer's pictureClaudia Warrias

The difference between coaching & therapy

Delving into the Foundations of Coaching and Therapy


The Philosophical Roots


Coaching, in its very nature, is aspirational. It originated from the sporting arena, where the primary objective was to draw out peak physical and mental performance from athletes. However, the application of coaching has evolved tremendously. Today, it extends beyond the realm of sports, reaching into life, business, and executive sectors. At its core, coaching empowers individuals. It beckons them to introspect, recognize their innate potential, and take strategic actions towards their envisioned future.

Historically, some cultures have had informal versions of coaches. Mentors, guides, or even village elders played roles in guiding younger members through life's challenges, helping them envision a brighter, clearer future. Today, this has become a more structured process with methods such as the "CONNECTED METHOD", but the essence remains the same: forward momentum and progress.


The Deep-seated Nature of Therapy


Therapy, conversely, is therapeutic. Its roots dig deep into the annals of psychology and medicine. Pioneers like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and later, figures like Albert Ellis, helped shape what therapy is today. Therapy is about introspection, about looking within, understanding oneself, and healing from past traumas or challenges. It often delves into an individual's past, seeking to resolve unresolved issues, mend emotional wounds, and provide tools to better navigate life's challenges.


Distinguishing Objectives: Healing vs Guiding


Healing: The Therapy Focus


Therapeutic processes aim to heal. Whether it's a traumatic incident from childhood, a recent heartbreak, or an ongoing struggle with mental health, therapy provides a sanctuary. A space where individuals can face their most significant fears, challenges, and anxieties, armed with tools and techniques to help them cope, overcome, and heal. It's a journey of understanding, of digging deep into one's psyche, recognizing patterns, behaviours, and triggers, and working towards a healthier mental and emotional state.


Guiding: The Coaching Angle


Coaching doesn't necessarily focus on healing the past; it's more about shaping the future. A coach's role is to guide, to challenge, to question, and to encourage. They help individuals set clear goals, chart out actionable plans, and hold them accountable. It's not about where you've been, but where you're heading. Whether it's a career transition, personal growth, or even mastering a specific skill, a coach's objective is to facilitate progress and achievement. They serve as catalysts, accelerating the journey towards one's goals, making the path clearer and the journey smoother.


Exploring Techniques and Approaches in Coaching and Therapy


Methods Employed in Coaching


Solution-focused Strategy


Coaching predominantly adopts a solution-focused approach. The primary objective? To harness an individual's potential and guide them towards actionable solutions. This technique is notably seen in life and executive coaching. For instance, if an executive is struggling with team leadership, the coaching sessions would revolve around identifying the gaps in their current leadership style and devising strategies to bridge those gaps. Tools such as SWOT analysis or even the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward) might be employed.


Accountability and Goal Setting


A significant pillar of coaching is accountability. Coaches work with clients to set clear, measurable goals. Regular check-ins, assessments, and feedback sessions are crucial. It's about progression and ensuring that the individual is consistently moving towards their set goals. Methods like SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) have gained popularity in the coaching realm, providing clarity and direction.


Techniques Central to Therapy


Cognitive Behavioural Techniques


One of the cornerstones of therapy, especially when addressing issues like anxiety or depression, is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This technique revolves around identifying negative thought patterns and actively working to change them. It's about understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and learning techniques to better manage and transform detrimental patterns.


Psychoanalysis and Deep Diving


Rooted deeply in the works of Freud, psychoanalysis is about delving deep into an individual's past. It's a journey through childhood memories, past traumas, and the subconscious mind. The belief? Our past significantly influences our present. By understanding and resolving past traumas, one can achieve a more balanced and harmonious present. Techniques such as dream analysis, free association, and transference are often employed in this deep dive.


Humanistic and Person-centred Approaches


Stemming from the works of Carl Rogers, the humanistic approach in therapy is about seeing the individual holistically. It's a technique that believes in the inherent goodness of people and aims to foster a nurturing, non-judgmental environment where individuals can explore their feelings, desires, and aspirations. It's about creating a safe space, devoid of judgments, where exploration, acceptance, and growth are promoted.


Delving into Practical Applications and Outcomes


Real-World Applications of Coaching


Empowerment in Career Progression


The tangible benefits of coaching can frequently be seen in the workplace. Individuals seeking clarity in their career trajectory or aiming for leadership roles find coaching instrumental. A coach can help dissect professional challenges, create actionable plans, and boost confidence. With methodologies like 360-degree feedback, clients gain insights into their strengths and areas of improvement from peers, subordinates, and superiors.


Achieving Personal Milestones


Beyond the workplace, coaching extends its reach to personal life. Whether it's about striking a work-life balance, pursuing a passion, or setting personal milestones, coaching can be the catalyst. Through techniques such as vision boards or journaling, individuals gain clarity about their aspirations and chart out paths to achieve them.


Tangible Outcomes of Therapeutic Practices


Emotional Healing and Resilience


Therapy is often the first port of call for individuals grappling with emotional disturbances or traumas. Through therapeutic interventions, individuals learn to cope mechanisms, build resilience, and embark on a healing journey. Techniques like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been transformative, especially for trauma victims.


Enhanced Relationships and Communication


Therapeutic practices like couples or family therapy play a pivotal role in mending strained relationships. By creating a safe environment for open communication, therapists help individuals address deep-rooted issues, enhance understanding, and foster stronger bonds. Methods such as the Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy are particularly effective in relationship healing.


Personal Growth and Self-awareness


One of the lasting impacts of therapy is heightened self-awareness. Through sessions, individuals introspect, dissect their behaviours and patterns, and gain insights into their psyche. This not only helps in addressing immediate concerns but also aids in personal growth and self-development. Tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Enneagram can further deepen this understanding.

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