Understanding the difference between coaching and therapy, consulting, mentoring, and training. 

The difference between coaching and other professional service providers is not clear cut. However, there are some general differentiators, (listed below), that can be helpful to understand. Keep these in mind when assessing which type of professional may be best positioned to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.


  • Present and future focused

  • Solution focused — supports achievement

  • For motivated individuals looking to improve effectiveness

  • Is a curious partner

  • Aims to create awareness that leads to insights

  • Offers expertise in the coaching process, not in a specific profession or industry

  • Supports clients to clarify their own goals, solutions, and next steps

  • Offers observations with no attachment

  • Supports clients to self-identify and commit to tasks; offers accountability support

  • Allows the client to set the agenda and take the lead

  • Offers relevant readings, tools, or processes with no expectations

  • Supports clients to plan and take action

  • Facilitates self-reflection and learning from experiments and actions



  • Past focused

  • Problem focused — aims to "fix"

  • For those suffering in some way and looking for emotional healing

  • Is an “expert”

  • Aims to bring about self-understanding and acceptance



  • Shares past professional experiences and career journey

  • Offers advice and suggestions

  • Opens doors/assists with networking


  • Makes assessments and recommendations

  • Performs tasks and “work” for the client


  • Sets the agenda

  • Educates clients in specific skills and prescribed methods

  • Gives assignments and homework; gives "grades"