Psychotherapy vs Coaching

There are so many types of mental health professionals that it is hard to keep them all straight: counselors, psychotherapists, clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, and counseling psychologists. For simplicity we will refer to the above as therapists.

Therapists’ treatments are greatly varied too: cognitive behavioral, psychoanalytic, interpersonal, EMDR, to name a few. What they all have in common is they provide therapy to address psychological issues. Here we will refer to it as psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy facilitates insight into your past, giving attention to old psychological wounds to solve current mental health issues. Psychotherapy mainly focuses on mental health issues, abuse, and addiction.

Coaching is focused on your current situation and your goals for the future: where are you now and where do you want to be? Coaching can focus on the past to make sense of what’s happening now. How you can use your present strengths and resources to move you towards the life that you want.

These statements are generalizations. Psychotherapy can include all aspects of coaching. Coaching can and does use therapeutic or psychological tools to help clients change their beliefs, feel better, and make life changes. What coaching does not provide is diagnosis or specific treatment for mental illnesses as defined by the American Psychological Association.

If this description sounds fuzzy, that’s because it is. Most descriptions about therapy and coaching are purposefully vague because what happens in therapy and coaching sessions depends on the type of therapy or coaching, the style of the therapist or coach, and most importantly, the needs of each individual client.

Furthermore, some therapists also provide coaching, which may combine the best of both worlds. As psychologist and coach Dr. Jeffrey E. Auerbach points out,

“Psychologists have the most training of any profession in understanding human motivation, behavior, learning and change,” he says. “And if they’ve done clinical work, they have a depth of one-on-one experience far greater than that of people who aren’t mental health professionals”.

Pineapple Support only works with licensed therapists, some of whom also provide coaching to reach a greater number of clients. Pineapple Support therapists bring to coaching sessions their knowledge and understanding of the human psyche as well as the psychological skills to enable clients to make meaningful life changes.