Coaching vs Therapy

Coaching has evolved as a methodology to fill a need for growth as well as continuity in our lives. There is more of an overlap of what therapists and coaches do than most people realise, but, there are still some very distinct differences.

Both professions are primarily based on a one-to-one relationship between the coach/therapist and their client, however, coaches also provide and run workshops in group situations. On-going and confidential sessions are shared by both professions and both the therapist and coach have their clients wellbeing and best interests at heart and assume, over time, that a significant change or transformation will take place.

However, their approaches to this transformation are fundamentally different. Therapists are closely governed by laws and statutes that limit their connection with their clients, which provides the coach with a far more flexible, personal and "experimental" approach in relating to their clients.

Therapy focuses on inter-personal health and identifiable pathological issues which most often leads to diagnosis (labeling) through the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and therapists are licensed to prescribe medication. Therapy is mostly covered by insurance where coaching is not. Therapists tend to focus on past events that caused the problem whereas a coach will focus on the client’s potential and where they want to go.

The therapist therefore guides the sessions and the client usually feels that the therapist is "in charge", is in power and is superior. Consequently, and most often, the client feels "broken" and is in need of fixing. Also, by law, the therapist/client relationship is 'distant' and is governed by a very limiting code of ethics. This is the reason that many therapists are converting to a career of coaching.

In contrast, coaching is a more collaborative model and is more goal directed and action based. There are about seven different coaching models in use today and we, at The Equine Pathway, employ the co-active coaching model. The premise of this model is that the client is naturally creative and whole and is completely capable of finding their own answers to their matters. The coach does not instruct or give advice, but asks challenging and powerful questions to elicit positive responses from his/her client that come from within themselves. The client is never deemed as any less than the coach and they are both viewed as co-creators of the new, improved and transformed life that the client is seeking.

During an EGC session we may go deeply into, and bring a client’s awareness, to their feelings, emotions, thoughts, body sensations, language and how they perceive the world and their environment. This may bring up current issues or past 'unfinished business' that has caused energetic blocks and has impeded his or her ability from creating the life of their desire. Once this awareness has been brought to the client’s attention, we use Gestalt methodology and 'horse wisdom' to bring wholeness and healing to the client. Being able to employ these very powerful methodologies has distinct advantages for the coach.

Further, as previously mentioned, the coach has greater latitude than the therapist does, which allows for phone and internet coaching as well as video conferencing. Due to confidentiality issues, a therapy session is always held, one-to-one in the therapist’s office. Another ‘cool' aspect of Equine Gestalt Coaching, is that many of our coaching sessions are held in a barn or arena with a horse. This is much more comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable than sitting in an office!

Are there cases when clients should seek the help of a therapist over a coach? Absolutely! Please see the article on this website entitled "Do I need an Equine Gestalt Coach or Do I Need a Therapist?". As the client’s best interest is always at the forefront of our practice, there may be times that, in our judgement, we believe that a referral to a therapist is most appropriate and advised. On a case by case basis, the client may continue their coaching sessions in collaboration with therapy or choose to come back at the completion of their therapy. As we have working relationships with therapists, we can make the referral for the client or they can choose their own therapist.

We do not coach or accept clients with drug or alcohol addictions. Specialized 12-step programs have been proven to be very effective in these instances. However, after six months of proven sobriety, we and our horses, would love to help you to continue your creative, life building journey.