Often during a coaching session, you might feel that the lines between coaching and therapy become blurred. Where do you draw the line, and what is your role as a business coach when it comes to emotional or psychological issues?

One of the most common misconceptions about business coaching is that it is a type of therapy. In reality, business coaching is truly its own unique service designed to help ambitious achievers meet the outcomes that will bring them success and fulfilment, in any and all areas of life.

How does coaching work 

Coaching is future-focused and goal orientated. You are there as an expert to guide your client in the right direction to achieve their goals.

While you will be dealing with some part of your client’s psychology, it is more focused on setting goals and creating good habits and improving self-identity to achieve those goals.  

If your client needs to talk to someone about mental health issues, it might be best to find a qualified psychologist. A coach is not there to diagnose a client in any way. A coach is there to take a person from where they are right now and get them to where they want to be.

The industry standard in coaching, The International Coaching Federation (ICF), write,

“Coaching is a thought-provoking and creative partnership that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential, often unlocking previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

How does therapy work 

Therapy is a treatment session based on psychology research. It aims to treat or heal mental illness or feelings and emotions brought on by past traumatic events.

Therapy is problem-specific and focuses on past or present events that cause issues in mental well being. The idea behind therapy is to focus on and come to terms with past traumas and issues.

The goal of therapy is to change self-destructive habits, repair and improve relationships and work through painful feelings. A therapist can also diagnose you with a certain kind of disorder.

Therapy can only be provided by a licensed practitioner, who has certain qualifications that allow them to make mental evaluations. 

The reasons a person might seek a therapist 

  • They suffer from anxiety, depression
  • Recently they have undergone a traumatic event
  • They experience relationship difficulties in personal life or at work

The reasons a person might seek a coach

  • They feel overwhelmed at work 
  • A person knows what they want to achieve but they’re not sure how to get there
  • The business owner needs a fresh perspective on their business
  • A business owner wants a better work-life balance

As a business coach, you will often have to listen to your client’s problems and provide sympathy and support. You are, however, not a therapist and if the issues are too severe you should suggest a client sees one. Remember that you are there to focus on business success, not try and solve any mental or psychological issues for your client. 

You must always keep your clients well being and success as the #1 thing, not try to act the hero.

Zander Woodford-Smith

Founder Business Coach Academy, Co-Author International Best Seller "Better Business, Better Life, Better World. Coaching Tools used by over 20,000 people.

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