The Difference Between Coaching and Therapy

Coaching has been around for decades and it can still be a mystery as you begin to explore the possibilities, especially for those considering a coach to help them reach their goals. Holistic health coaching can benefit your overall outlook on life.

Coaching is a action-centered process where intention and actions emerge from the client’s interaction and dialogue with their coach. As the client, you have all the answers you need within you and it’s the coach’s focus to help you breathe new life into your thoughts, reflections, and perspectives.

The outcome is that you are energized and motivated to achieve your goals, maximize your potential, and be empowered to pursue sustainable and positive behavior change that will help you thrive.

The Definition of Coaching

The International Coaching Federation (ICF, 2020) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” 

Many variables of the definition exist, but the ICF’s definition is a great starting point to better understand the difference between coaching and therapy. As the client, you are in a partnership with your coach where responsibilities are shared in their effort to co-create and collaborate equally. 

The partnership is based your coach meeting you where your are at presently so together, you can build on that with future-focused intention and actions that will created sustainable change. The process is deliberately inspirational for you.

The Coaching Partnership

Coaching has many dynamics with the end goal of supporting you during your own unique journey. It’s how progress is made and sustainable behavior changes are accomplished by the client. 


  1. Is a way to support a you realize your full potential.
  2. Inspires you to develop your creativity, resilience, resourcefulness, and capability to reach your objectives.
  3. Acknowledges your ability to be the expert in your own life and fully capable of determining what goals to pursue.
  4. Is solutions-oriented, not problem-oriented.
  5. Is focused on conversations about the present and future, not past experiences.
  6. Is a partnership that enables her to discover, strategize, plan, and develop goals that build the foundation for sustainable behavior change.
  7. Is based in a two-way accountability model. The coach is accountable for managing the process and creating a space for exploration. The client holds herself accountable for the commitments created during the coaching process.
  8. Creates a safe, trusting, and respectful space to inspire curiosity, open-mindedness, and reflection.
  9. Is client-centered.
  10. Is a collaborative partnership that is focused on growth and development.

The Coaching Difference

Coaching can often be confused with a form of therapy, consulting, and/or advising. Those all have distinct fields of study and licensing. A simple way to understand the difference is by stating what coaching is not.

  1. Coaching is not about dwelling on the past in order to discover the root cause of a person’s psychological or relational issues. It’s not therapy.
  2. Coaching is not consulting (as with business performance) or advising to give expertise for guidance. You have the vision and the Holistic Health Coach is there to support it by assisting you to create goals and accountability.
  3. Coaching is not a synonym for anything related to or resembling therapy.
  4. Coaching is not a rehabilitative or therapeutic process. It’s a learning process for growth and development.
  5. Coaching is not used for diagnosis or for treatment of medical conditions.

The Coaching Process

Are you ready to take action? Coaching may be right for you. Your goal can be a target, objective, standard, purpose, ambition, pursuit, or your own definition. You have intentions, desires, hopes, and wishes. You want to achieve or accomplish something. 

First, we start with building our relationship. That is the most important step since it is the foundation for a coach and client to create positive and sustainable change. Second, we develop and facilitate positive actions that will lead you to your goals. These steps breakdown like this:

The conversations are purposeful so that you can seek out the objective you have in mind. Action-centered coaching is supported by the coach working with the client to formulate well-designed goals that are supported by action plans. 

Our partnership plays such an important role so you can gain the benefits from holistic health coaching that you deserve.

The Benefits of Holistic Health Coaching

Wondering what holistic health coaching is exactly? Let’s break it down.


Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The medical model of health is that the person is absent from one or more of the five D’s: death, disease, disability, discomfort, and dissatisfaction. Meaning, if you are not sick, disabled, or mentally unstable, you can be defined as healthy.


Wellness encompasses the physiological, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental aspects of health. It’s the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving. Wellness pillars:

  1. Emotional Wellness
  2. Physical Wellness
  3. Spiritual Wellness
  4. Occupational Wellness
  5. Social Wellness
  6. Nutritional Wellness
  7. Intellectual Wellness
  8. Environmental Wellness
  9. Financial Wellness

Holistic Health Coaching

This type of coaching focuses on an integrative, whole-body approach that includes both health and wellness holistically. The purpose of holistic health coaching is to assist and help you feel your best through personalized lifestyle changes that balance all areas of life. Working as a guide toward an overall healthier life, the coach helps you discover how to fuel your body, live a healthy lifestyle, manage stress and find the best wellness and health routines that work for you.

  • Coach 
  • Empower 
  • Educate 
  • Co-create
  • Acknowledge and Celebrate

A Holistic Health Coach will help educate you about how health is not just about diet and exercise, but it’s about all areas of your life including supportive relationships, meaningful work, work/life balance, spirituality, and more. You’ll look at many areas of your life that may be contributing to stress and poor wellness, not just diet and exercise alone.

Holistic health coaches may provide nutrition, health and fitness advice and support, but should not provide advice that is outside of their scope of practice. 

Holistic health coaches should not claim to have all the answers or to be able to solve all of your health concerns. Your coach should be transparent about their scope of practice and when to refer individuals to other healthcare providers. Your coach should always adhere to ethical guidelines and maintain appropriate boundaries with you.

As the client, you can first ask yourself, do you want to improve your own health and wellness? If yes, then coaching can add the support, motivation, and accountability that will benefit you as you pursue your goals. 

Coaching Topics We Can Explore

Topics we can explore include and not limited to:

  • Goal setting and follow through
  • Mindset
  • Stress management strategies
  • Prioritizing self-care and building your self-care toolkit
  • Sleep support
  • Achieving better work-life balance
  • Increasing life satisfaction
  • Stretching your mind to adjust your perception of yourself
  • Improving your relationship with yourself and others
  • Balancing wellness with a busy schedule
  • Practicing a positive mindset
  • Healthy whole foods planning
  • Nutrition strategies
  • Movement planning and accountability

Coaching Outcomes and Successes

Holistic health coaching by design can help you improve the vitality and passion you have  for life by creating sustainable behavior change.

  1. Help you learn to stay on task.
  2. Encourage you to set clear goals.
  3. Improve holistic life satisfaction.
  4. Create sustainable behavior change for a renewed lifestyle.
  5. Define strategies for achieving health and wellness goals.
  6. Build your confidence and your mental toolkit. 
  7. Inspire you to take action towards achieving goals.
  8. Motivate you to be more self-reliant.
  9. Get you to take more responsibility and accountability for actions and commitments.
  10. Grow your knowledge, skills, and ability to become an active participant in your own care and achieve your self-identified health goals.

Both coaching and therapy have distinct purposes. Exploring holistic health coaching is an exciting way to connect from within, and provides you the opportunity to focus on your short-term and long-term goals that will help you thrive– body, mind, and spirit. 

Find out how coaching may be right for you!


American Fitness Professionals & Associates: Holistic Health and Wellness Frequently Asked Questions

Foundations of Professional Coaching, written by James Gavin

Forbes: 5 Difference Between a Coach and a Therapist

Pfizer: What is wellness?

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