The Difference Between Therapy and Coaching

Many facilities, including SokyaHealth, offer both therapy and coaching to their clients. While they may seem similar at first, there are distinct differences between therapy and coaching. Understanding the difference between the two can help you understand which one is a better fit for your unique needs. 

Why You Might Seek Therapy or Coaching

There is a wide range of reasons you might seek out therapy or coaching. Some of these include: 

  • Feeling stuck in life 

  • Experiencing chronic depression or anxiety

  • Needing support through overwhelming circumstances

  • Not feeling fulfilled

  • Wanting to change patterns or habits

  • Feeling like you aren’t living up to your potential

Whatever your reason, there is nothing too big or too small to seek out external help from professionals who know what they are doing. Seeking out therapy or coaching is admirable and can lead to a period of tremendous growth in your life. 

Therapy vs. Coaching

You might not immediately see the difference between therapy and coaching and, therefore, might feel that either would fit your specific needs as you search for professional help. However, there are differences between therapy and coaching. Understanding your needs can help you know which modality is better equipped to provide you with the guidance you are looking for. 

According to a study published by Global Advances in Health and Medicine on the differences and similarities between therapy and coaching, coaches uses “coaching methodology to enhance the self-identified health and well-being goals of their clients,” while psychotherapists “are trained in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders.” 


A therapist is a mental health professional who can help you with mental health issues. Often, a therapist is accredited or licensed and can diagnose various conditions and disorders. Psychotherapists can prescribe medication and employ various treatment modalities as they treat your mental health issues. 

You might seek out a therapist for: 

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Complex trauma

  • Grief

  • Complicated relationships

Because therapists are trained to provide a wide variety of treatments, they can be better equipped at helping you solve the bigger picture. Instead of solving just your symptoms, they can treat you as a whole person and get to the root of your pain and problems. 

If you have any sort of trauma, seeking out a trauma-informed therapist is the best way to work on healing that trauma. A trauma-informed therapist will have the education required to treat nuanced, complex situations that other therapists or coaches will not be able to. 

While a therapist can help you solve problems in the present, they tend to focus more on how events in your past affect you in the present. By visiting your past, they can understand how you are being limited in the current moment. Therapists are also trained to help specifically with grief, complicated relationships, and stressful situations that are overwhelming to manage alone. 

Depending on your needs, a therapist may meet with you once a week for several months or years before reducing the appointment frequency to once a month or once every few months to maintain consistency and build a solid relationship. 


Similar to therapy, coaches can also be mental health practitioners with certifications. You might seek coaching to help you: 

  • Figure out what career path to take

  • Decide which school to go to

  • Learn how to employ healthier habits in your life

  • Navigate life after a breakup

Unlike therapy, coaching will not diagnose you or delve into deeper mental health issues. Instead, coaches are there to help you solve present solutions or prepare for the future in short-term situations. A coach will help guide you as you navigate a challenging situation that requires temporary outside help. You may meet with them a few times and then only come back when you run into another short-term problem that you need help solving. 

Which Is Right for Me?

The best way to determine if you need therapy or coaching is to take a minute and reflect on your current situation. You might ask yourself some questions to help you figure out what you need most, like: 

  • Do I feel I might have an undiagnosed mental health issue? 

  • Do I need advice or treatment? 

  • Is this event from my past continually affecting me in the present? 

  • Could a mental health professional help me solve this quickly, or would it take a long time? 

If you are still unsure, you could speak to a therapist or coach and give them a brief understanding of your current situation. They will be able to help you know if you need coaching or therapy. You could also visit a coach first to see if your problems are truly short-term. If they are not and coaching does not provide enough help, you might need to seek treatment through therapy for longer-lasting solutions to deeper problems.

Coaching and therapy are two excellent ways to receive help from mental health practitioners. While therapy tends to be past-focused, longer-lasting, and involve more intensive diagnoses and treatment, coaching often focuses on solving short-term problems that arise in the present. It can be challenging to know whether or not you need coaching or therapy to help with your specific needs. Understanding the difference between what the two offer can help you choose which is most suitable for you. At SokyaHealth, we offer both therapy and coaching from experienced mental health professionals who are eager to provide you with the personalized help you need. Through our telehealth platform, you can virtually connect with a coach or a therapist quickly. Our coaches and therapists offer holistic treatments to help you with your past, present, and future needs. Whether you need coaching or therapy, SokyaHealth can help. Call us today for more information at (877) 840-6956.

More than 50% of Americans struggle with mental health.

Headlight is now collaborating with health plans and companies to make therapy more accessible and affordable. Speak to a Care Coordinator today.