Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Is the Difference Between Psychotherapy And Life Coaching?

It may not be the most burning issue of the day, but some people are asking for a better definition of the difference between psychotherapy and life coaching.

Today, I am going to try for clear and succinct, not for theoretical complexity. If "high concept" is a good thing, we should be happy to apply it here.

One caveat: for the purposes of this argument I am only referring to psychotherapy that tries to cure through insight. I exclude cognitive and behavioral exercises because they fall within the realm of retraining, and thus, are closer to coaching than therapy.

Here are some principles, as I have been developing them on the blog.

Psychotherapy is about getting into your mind; life coaching is about getting into your life.

Psychotherapy offers self-knowledge; life coaching aims at self-management.

Psychotherapy is about how you understand yourself; life coaching is about how you conduct yourself with others.

Psychotherapy is an aesthetic; life coaching involves an ethic.

Psychotherapy gives you a front row seat at your life's dramas; life coaching engages you in the work of building your character.

Psychotherapy offers self-knowledge to no particular end; life coaching gives lessons in self-management to help you to get into the game and to play it well.

Psychotherapy wants to discover why you keep getting it wrong; life coaching wants to show you how to get it right.

Psychotherapy wants to know why you can't perform; life coaching wants to help you to perform better.

Psychotherapy claims to offer care and cure for what ails you; life coaching offers guidance to help you improve on your strengths.

Psychotherapy wants you to get in touch with your feelings; life coaching wants you to keep in touch with your friends.

Psychotherapy wants you to accept the worst about yourself; life coaching wants you to see the best in everyone.

Psychotherapy wants you to fulfill your creative potential; life coaching wants you to work hard at what you are best at.

Psychotherapy wants you to blossom; life coaching wants you to excel.

Psychotherapy tries to analyze everything; life coaching is happy to leave well enough alone.

Psychotherapy wants everything to be spoken; life coaching is happy to leave things unsaid.

Psychotherapy looks for problems; life coaching looks for solutions.

1 comment:

Tarek said...

Great article Stuart. It might not be the most burning issue of the day but you do provide an original and personal insight into it. I can't believe how many coaches I meet that still can't tell the difference between the two.