Coaching, therapy, mentoring
What differences ?

Last update: 01 Jul 2024

coaching and its alternatives

various spices on a table illustrating the differences between coaching and therapy

Coaching and its alternatives

We saw in a previous blog some good reasons to consider hiring a coach. But would there be any bad reasons ? When would other trades be more effective? Coaches, mentors, therapists, psychotherapists, trainers… the differences are sometimes blurred, but at the same time essential.

Coach – Psychologist – Mentor – Advisor
the differences in short

Advisor: shares his/her knowledge to help the advisee make informed decisions

Mentor: shares his/her skills and guidance to help the mentee develop his/her skills

Psychologist: helps patients gain a better understanding of their problems and regain a sense of well-being

Coach: stimulates and encourages free thought by raising targeted questions to help the coachee find a solution best suited to his/her own situation

Focusing on career development and the techniques to grow our Emotional Intelligence competencies in order to successfully reach our career goals, I felt it would be useful to outline the various fields that can help them, depending on their current needs.

image of a mound of red spice on a spoon, symbolizing various types of coaching

The coach

Originally the word “coaching, derived from the English “coach” itself derived from the French word “coche” (a stagecoach), means bringing a person from point A to point B.

Coaching can therefore be seen as the art of accompanying a person towards the achievement of his/her personal or professional objective, by facilitating the release of his/her potential and thus allowing him or her to progress by being in control of his/her choices. To do this, the coach will rely on tools that facilitate reflection processes he will have acquired during a solid training, as well as on his own experience of life and management.

Coaching begins with the expression of a desire to go further, to progress, to solve a problem.

The coach does not give “recipes”, but facilitates the preparation of a personalized recipe, exactly adapted to the needs of the coachee.

The coach will work to bring about the development of new ideas, new solutions, in the present. He is interested in “WHAT ?” and “HOW ?

The coach’s objective is to increase the self-confidence, awareness and responsibility of the coachee, allowing him/her to reach his/her full potential.

image of a coarse beige spice symbolizing therapy

Therapy / psychotherapy vs coaching

The difference between coaching and therapy is a vast and often highly controversial subject.

For some, coaching focuses mainly on the present and the future (what? how?) while therapy seeks to heal the emotional wounds of the past, the “WHY ?”

For others, coaching is essentially focused on the results to be achieved and the actions to be taken, which would not be the case with therapy.

The number of sessions and their duration is also different. A therapy session usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. Coaching sessions often last longer, but their number is limited, usually between 3 and 6 – 7 sessions.

Coaching is aimed at people in good psychological health. This notion of “good mental health” will certainly be viewed as abstract by some and open to countless debates, but let us simply say that a coachee has to inform his coach if he is also following a therapeutic treatment, in particular if he follows a drug prescription. In any case, this question will be explored by the coach at the initial contact.

image of a mound of yellow spice on a spoon symbolizing mentoring

Mentor vs coach

Coaching is nowadays often confused with mentoring. In Greek mythology, Ulysses entrusts his son, Telemachus, to his old friend “Mentor” (that’s his name), to guide him in his choices and thus become his tutor. The mentor is therefore a kind of advisor, with a high level of experience in a specific field, who accompanies another person, often younger and/or less experienced.

The essential difference with a coach is that he/she gives expert advice, often from his/her own experience, but does not necessarily aim to develop the client’s abilities, potential and self-knowledge.

A mentor can also act as a role model for a person, such as a teacher, friend, supervisor or even an idol.

image of cumin seeds for training

Instructor vs coach

If coaching is a response to the coachee’s expression of a desire for success and self-realization, training is rather the learning of behaviours to apply in given situations.

image of orange seeds on a spoon for the consultant

Consultanting vs coaching

Somewhere between the areas of competence of the coach, mentor and trainer, the consultant can be a complement to coaching, when expert advice is desired in his or her area of competence.

Well… ? Coaching or not coaching ?

I hope this information will help you to choose the right support for your situation. The objective of all these professionals is the same: to help. All specialities are equal in their field and are generally, with the exception of a few self-proclaimed gurus, practiced by professionals.

The keys are:

Be clear about your needs,
Get information on the competences of the professionals
Make an informed choice.

Life coach for executives and managers. Professional development, Mental Fitness, work-life balance coach and emotional resilience coach, InterQualia Flow assessment. Certified coach in Switzerland, Lausanne, Yverdon, Geneva and Online. France & Canada © 2018 – 2024 – Design and production Alternatives and Transitions Coaching