Most of us have heard of coaching in various forms (life coaching, sports coaching, executive coaching, corporate coaching, etc.) but we may not really know the difference between talking to a coach versus a therapist versus a consultant versus a friend. Hopefully, this article helps explain things. If you have further questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them promptly.
Therapy: Therapists focus most of their time in the past to fix problems, overcome issues, and sometimes manage mental illnessness that their clients have. The primary focus is to heal and take their clients from a dysfunctional state to a functional one.
Consulting: Consultants work with clients while keeping their own agenda in mind. They are experts in their field and are prepared to give advice and tools that help their clients reach what the consultant considers success. The consultant will guide the client on how to implement the plan that the consultant has put together and does not usually work with the client through the whole process until it’s complete.
Talking to a friend: Conversing with friends is a great way to relieve stress and possibly work through an issue you’re facing. Your friend is there ready and willing to listen – and also to give you advice. They may tell you what they think you should do even without you asking, using their own agenda to guide their advice. Or they may not be completely honest with you about a situation because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Coaching: Coaches are trained professionals who work with clients on the client’s agenda, being completely open and honest along the way. The coach will be specialized in certain fields (life coaching or business coaching, for example), but they are experts in the coaching process and are there to help hold the client accountable for the plans they make. Coaches help clients achieve their own goals by knowing that the client is the expert and has the answer to any situation they may face within themselves. The coach may provide insight, knowledge, new ideas, and experience in order to help the client achieve their goals and the focus is always on the client’s agenda. Coaches do not believe that their clients need to be “fixed” nor that their clients need coaching at all. Coaching is for individuals who want to take that extra step to improve themselves or their situation. Coaching is very results-oriented and focuses on the future, seeing only opportunities rather than problems and concentrating on how their client can achieve their goals.