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coaching vs therapy

There is a difference between therapy and coaching.
Depending on where you are in your journey to find inner healing,
you may find tremendous benefits from working with both. 
Having a clear understanding of what both
professionals offer will certainly help clarify the path you personally
decide to take to receive the healing your mind and body need.

No one gets through this journey we call "life" without some unexpected events or relationships that cause us to lose our focus, be distracted or become completely debilitated. There are times we don’t have a clue which way we need to head. We’ve become lost or our passion is leading us to change course. In both of these scenarios we can greatly benefit from the intervention of professional help. But what kind?

Some people will develop a mental illness that is so severe that it causes them to either not be able to move forward or they are unable to function in order to do daily tasks. We are disabled by our illness, either temporarily or permanently. Therapists, with their expertise and experience, are best suited for helping us when we are in this stage of our journey. 

Others of us find ourselves in situations where we get stuck, confused, unable to make a decision about simple choices throughout our day, lose our sense of direction, and motivation to press through it all. We are not disabled by a mental illness, although we may have been in the past or we may have a mental illness but it is not severe enough that it prevents us from moving about freely. Coaching through one on one and community interaction is perfect for these individuals. 


Individuals who have gotten their mental health illnesses under control or in remission can benefit tremendously from individual and group coaching. Individuals who are being coached need to transfer to a therapist if they experience a mental health crisis. A good coach will help a client make this transfer when decompensation occurs, rather than trying themselves.

People can, and sometimes need to, move between therapy and coaching. Licensed therapists can take insurance. Majority of coaches do not.  And for some clients that will determine which route they take for support and healing they desire and need.

My personal experience from years of traditional therapy and receiving the training to become a Mental Wellness Coach and will be certified in December 2022 as an Informed Trauma/Abuse Coach, leads me to the following conclusions. You might gather that when it comes to truly breaking free from thought processes, beliefs, and memories that no longer serve you I will always choose a professional coach. 

Talk therapy never worked to bring my PTSD from past trauma or daily stress to a level where I was functioning in a healthy manner. Nor did couples therapy help our marriage. Diving into my past wounds without doing somatic work left me feeling even more weary, exhausted or often times defeated.  And my inner child felt even more abandoned and rejected. 

Think of Therapists and other mental health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed professional counselors) as the first line of defense. They are the trauma surgeons that help a survivor work through the physical impact their trauma may have caused. 


Coaches have a fully stocked first aid kit and skills to put it to good use, but they are not physicians. Coaching clients may be what I call “the walking wounded” but they have to be ambulatory in order to be a good fit for the coaching process. Coaches aid trauma survivors, both as a peer and as a supporter, to help them reach their personal goals for their own recovery. Coaching provides support as a person begins to take greater levels of ownership in their future.  

A coach comes alongside their client to brainstorm, provide information, and examine potential decisions. A therapist can do all of these things, but they often also need to intervene at a deeper level to direct care, prescribe behavior and make choices on behalf of their client. A coach never takes that much control over a client’s life. Guide and encourage, yes. Command direction, never. 

Coaches are a great part of a client's mental health team.  Like personal trainers, they encourage, spur on, and champion a client to set personal goals and help reach them in recovering from trauma and life setbacks. 


In trauma recovery coaching, clients often experience a lifetime of normalizing disconnection from both self and others.  Many clients are isolated from family and support people and therefore continue to live in a state of disconnection.  Coaches provide a safe relationship for clients and a place, over time, for reconnection with another person and ultimately themselves.  ​

Trauma Informed Coaching is the practice of understanding the presence of trauma in a coach-client relationship and how to use it as a guide for resilience and solution-forward resolution.

Key Elements of Health & Wellness Coaching – a framework for Global Standards of Practice


1. Coaching is client-centered.

2. The client chooses their own goals.

3. A self-discovery process is used to find solutions as opposed to the coach giving advice.

4. The client is encouraged to be accountable around their behavior towards the goals they have chosen.

5. “Content education” is provided upon request of the client and not directive.

6. The client understands the nature, scope and terms of the health and wellness coaching agreement.

7. There is a sustainable, trusting relationship between the client and coach which is an integral part of the coaching process.

8. The coach is professionally trained and certified in health and wellness coaching.

9. Coaches do not treat, nor diagnose mental health illnesses. It is not uncommon for clients to be involved in both coaching and psychotherapy at the same time if warranted. Consultation is very possible and encouraged. 

10. Coaching tends to be more collaborative, working with clients as peers. Often goal setting is client directed. 

11. Coaches do not operate from a traditional medical model. 

12. Coaches may assign homework or have contact outside of the scheduled appointment. 

Trauma is a fact of life.  The statistics of mental health decline in America are on the rise and when I learned the following I knew I needed to become part of the solution.  


70 percent of adults experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

20 percent of people who experience a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

About 8 million people have PTSD in a given year. One in thirteen people will develop PTSD at some point in their life. Eleven to twenty out of every 100 veterans experience PTSD. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; every single day, 22 veterans take their own lives 

One in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics;

one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. 

What is the percentage of emotional abuse?

Although difficult to measure, research shows that between 50 and 80 percent of adults may experience emotional abuse in their lifetime. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention labels emotional abuse as an adverse childhood experience that affects 11 percent of children. *


Long-term emotional abuse can also result in several health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, chronic pain, and more. Thus, these experiences inevitably leave traces of trauma throughout the body and can negatively effect how a person goes through life. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.

It’s not just you, it’s not only in your mind...




Almost 1 out every 2 women will experience at least one emotional or psychological abuse in their lifetime. 


Is that you?  Are you ready to release your trauma and take the journey needed for inner healing? 



or Contact me today to learn more. 

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