Coaching vs. Therapy: When does coaching cross the line?

coaching-vs-therapy1Coaching is a relatively new field and is undergoing an identity crisis as it seeks to define itself within the broad field of workplace learning, consulting, human resource management, career development and in many cases, psychotherapy.

One essential question that is often asked by those seeking coaching services or initiating a coaching practice is how does coaching differ from therapy?  Here is my take on the difference:

Coaching:  typically involves a short term relationship focused on performance improvement.  Appropriate clients are those who have achieved a certain level of success and are seeking to move forward by improving their skills, relationships, or knowledge.

Therapy:  According to the APA, therapy refers to treatment for psychological problems. Therapists and clients work together to understand problems and come up with plans for fixing them. The focus is generally on changing ineffective thoughts, emotions or behaviors.

What do you think of the definitions?  Can you add to them or provide examples of when coaching or therapy is the correct choice? How should coaches deal with this issue in their practice and when should they make a referral to a licensed psychologist?

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