Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Coaching vs Therapy - issues in coaching

When I'm asked by new coaches about the differences between coaching and therapy, I'm often tempted to ask them whether they want the two minute explanation or the two hour version. The two minute version goes something like this - coaching is about the future, its about work performance, its about people who are functioning well but who could function better, its about finding solutions not fixing history. Therapy isn't any of these.

The two hour version points out the generalisations in these statements, the impossibility of compartmentalising ourselves, and the similarity in skills. Experienced business coaches know that the whole human shows up for coaching - and that, often,  the roots of present day performance issues lies in the past. Like it or not we are dealing with human psychology when we coach... and that includes our own not just the client's.

Like learning to swim, we need to be clear about when we are getting into 'deep water' as a coach and either head for the 'shallows' or learn to improve our technique. We do our clients no service if we take them into waters where we are out of our depth. Equally perpetually swimming in the shallow end is unlikely to make a real difference in the lives of our clients.  OK enough watery metaphors.


  1. And very wise commentary on the matter as always. You are one of my experts in this field.

  2. Good to hear from you Carol! Nice to you know you find it helpful !