The differences between coaching and therapy

Written By Kara Francis

Regardless of whether you are considering divorce, in the thick of one, or in the post-divorce recovery phase, having an outlet to process and share your emotions is critical to maintaining a healthy mindset.

While it may be tempting to just vent to friends about your feelings and marriage, your friends (no matter how well-intentioned they may be) are not necessarily trained or certified to actually help you process your emotions.

A more appropriate space to process your emotions is with a divorce coach, a therapist, or both. However, it’s important to understand the differences between these two modalities, so you can choose the right fit for you and make the best use of your time and money.

In differentiating therapy and coaching, it all comes down to PURPOSE and TYPE OF CLIENT.


Coaching is a partnership between a coach and client, in which the coach provides an objective, judgment-free space for the client to process their current emotions, set goals for the future, and create action plans to achieve those goals.

In a coaching relationship, the focus is on how the client wants to move from their present state to their future state. In sum, coaching is forward-thinking and solutions-oriented.

As a coach, my role is to listen to you, HEAR YOU, and ask empowering questions that will help you find the answers that are already within yourself, such as the following:

What is feeling challenging right now in your marriage?

What is your biggest concern about making a change?

What would reinvesting in your marriage look like?

If you were no longer married to this person, how would your life be different?

What does a healthy and supportive marriage look like to you?

What are your needs in a partner?


Therapy also provides a judgment-free zone to discuss your emotions, but unlike coaching, therapy focuses on healing deep-seated emotional issues and trauma from your past, with the goal of understanding why you feel the way you feel in the present .

Often, the goal of therapy is to bring the client from a non-functional state (i.e., unable to function in daily life due to severe and significant emotional / mental health issues, such as not being able to eat or sleep, not being able to focus at work, etc.) to a functional state.

Therapy is also the appropriate space for someone who is a victim of abuse, suffers from substance abuse issues, or has a diagnosed mental health condition.

While coaching may not always be out of the question for the foregoing types of clients, coaching should only be pursued if the client has first taken the appropriate steps with and has the approval of their psychologist and/or psychiatrist, to ensure the client is in the proper state of mind for coaching.


Simply put, coaching and therapy serve different purposes and different types of clients.

Regardless of which stage of divorce you may find yourself, it is very possible that you would benefit from BOTH a therapist (to process and heal from your past emotional trauma), AND a coach (to help you create a plan to move forward into the future).

There is no shame whatsoever in needing both a therapist and a coach. Think of your lawyer, coach and therapist as the DREAM TEAM that will help you dominate your divorce!

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