Coaching, mentoring and therapy – what is the difference?

People often ask me the difference between coaching, mentoring and therapy and my answer is the name of a restaurant in Dahab called Same Same, But Different.

With one important difference.

In coaching and mentoring the assumption is that the person in front of you is resourceful and whole, they are able to do what they need to, to reach their goals and aspirations.

In therapy, the person in front of you has lost their ability to be resourceful. They may have suffered a trauma, are stuck in a destructive reoccurring pattern, have depression, anxiety, or chronic pain.

Coaching and mentoring help people work out what they need to do to reach their goals and aspirations.

Therapy helps people make sense of their context, patterns and feelings to find new ways of being.

Although on the same spectrum, mentoring and coaching are also different from each other.

A mentor is someone who has been there, done that, and are willing to share their experiences with you so you can learn without having to make the same mistakes.

A coach, may have no experience in your line of work at all, their role is help you get clear on your goals and aspirations and support you to find you own way to reach them.

Both move up and down the spectrum to meet the needs of the person in front of them and this is where skilled mentors, coaches and therapists are the same. In my training we called it ‘dancing in the moment’ and while I believe as a coach I get the best out of people by dancing mostly at the non-directive end, there are times when I know the person in front of me would benefit from a suggestion or story so they can find an even more creative approach to their dilemma.

Therapy can work alongside coaching and mentoring, although it’s best if everyone knows this is happening. I’ve worked with clients who are seeing a therapist to work through negative family relationships and working with me on steps to get promoted. There have also been times when I’m working with someone who is so burnt out or depressed that they are not whole or resourceful right now and I have supported them to seek therapy.

I hope this has helped clear up what the differences between coaching, mentoring and therapy are and if not please get in touch. I’d be happy to chat through it more.

A banner advising that Think Like A Coach is available for sale now.

Order here

Want practical coach ideas that you can use everyday?

This website stores cookies on your computer. Cookie Policy