Of the 13 deconstructed elements, all 9 are fully present in therapy as well as in coaching. Of the remaining four, all are present in therapy but with a notable difference in emphasis or priority. In short, 28 or 30 elements of the definition of therapy are found in coaching and all 13 of the elements of the definition of coaching are found in therapy.
While coaching and therapy overlap a great deal a definitional level, there are significant regulatory and practice differences between them. These differences are summarized in Table 3.
While there is great definitional similarity between coaching and therapy, there are some significant differences in professional training and regulatory structure. These relevant differences are summarized in Table 3.
Table 3: Other Coaching & Therapy Characteristics
|Other Coaching Characteristics||Other Therapy Characteristics|
|No formal academic requirements. Training generally less than 150 contact hours and 100 practice hours.||Requires graduate degree. Training generally exceeds 750 contact hours and 850 practice hours.|
|Generally taught by commercial, special purpose training companies with limited admission criteria.||Generally taught by public & private universities with structured and relatively exclusive admission criteria.|
|Unlicensed in all US states and almost all countries||Generally regulated by licensing and certification processes|
|Insurance will nor reimburse||Commonly reimbursable by insurers|
|Limited research base and evolving valuing of research and evidence based practice||High value placed on research and evidence based practice|
|Generally not well understood by public||Generally well understood by public|
|Modern origins in the 1990s and evolving as a field||Modern origins in the late 1800. Well established as a field with great professional diversity|
The differences outlined in Table 3 are quite significant. In general, coaching requires little or no formal academic training. It is generally taught by for-profit, special purpose training enterprises that are not subject to accreditation requirements. Coaches are unlicensed and unregulated in all US states and in most countries and virtually anyone can represent themselves as a coach. No US insurance reimburses for coaching. Coaching is also a relatively new, “buyer beware” service that is not well understood by the public. It newness is, in part, responsible for its limited base of research supporting evidence based practices and outcomes while coaching’s relative lack of traditional academic rigor may contribute to its weaker valuing of research and evidence based practice.
The professional training and practice of therapy is quite different from coaching in important ways. Therapists are generally required to have formal academic graduate training and a degree from a recognized public or private university. The curricula and practices of these universities is subject to accreditation standards. It is heavily regulated by governmental licensing and certification processes and is generally reimbursable by insurers. Participation in many jobs and related associations is restricted through relatively rigorous credentialing processes. Therapy is generally understood by the public and has been well established over more than 150 years. It also places a high value on research and evidence-based practice and is supported by a very deep and broad base of controlled and replicated research.
These differences are important. The practice of coaching is essentially unregulated but the lack of recognized professional status also excludes coaches from any practice that could be construed as therapy. Therapy is far more regulated, allowing for far more latitude on the part of credentialed staff to do things that coaching cannot do.
As indicated earlier, therapy is an enormously broad and varied field. It should be noted that some forms of therapy are far more consistent with coaching than others. For example, traditional psychoanalytic therapy would be very different from coaching and many of the characteristics found in the ICF definition of coaching would not be present in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. However, at least in the United States, the very large majority of psychotherapy is deeply rooted in modalities that are quite similar to coaching. These include cognitive behavioral treatment, counseling psychology principles, and practical solution focused orientations. For these kinds of therapies, the previous comparison is valid.