While coaching and counseling both provide a helpful relationship to support your wellness and growth, coaches and counselors can have significant differences in their training, their methods, and their goals.
Psychotherapy helps a client address and resolve symptoms which, in aggregate, impair her or his ability to function well in daily life. This can include symptoms related to Anxiety, Depression, Mood Disorders, Trauma, ADHD, Addictions and many other problems.
It is understood that unless and until these problems are resolved, it will be difficult for people to make significant improvements in their lives. Once they are feeling stronger and more confident, they can start taking action to change their circumstances.
To practice psychotherapy, the clinician is required to complete:
graduate level education,
licensure by the government (usually the state you reside in), and
thousands of hours of supervised training.
Coaching is focused on helping people "improve" their lives. The basic presumption of coaching is that coaching clients have a solid foundation in their mental and emotional health, and are not currently experiencing a diagnosable disorder.
With coaching, the client must be ready to receive guidance and instruction on how to make changes that will help them achieve their goals. The coaching work focuses on creating and maintaining motivation for change, exploring obstacles, and formulating a clear plan for an improved future.
Coaching is unregulated by governmental authorities; however, many certification programs are available. These programs are run by private companies or not-for-profit organizations. With or without a certificate, anyone can call legally themselves a "coach".
Psychotherapists can provide coaching but coaches can not provide psychotherapy.
Putting the difference into practice:
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? In reality, it is extremely helpful to have the psychological training to assess whether coaching is appropriate or not. It is unethical for a coach to attempt to help anyone who is dealing with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, or other recognized mental health problems. When working with clients, I will make an assessment, usually in the first session, to confirm that you will receive the appropriate level of care.
Another consideration is that insurance companies usually do not reimburse for coaching but usually do pay for psychotherapy/counseling as long as there is a diagnosis provided by the psychotherapist.
I am glad to provide both psychotherapy and coaching services in the appropriate circumstances. If you have any questions on this matter, please don't hesitate to contact me.