Self-Care + Wellbeing

Coach vs. Consultant vs. Mentor vs. Therapist

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Let’s break it down.

How is coaching different from therapy? Isn’t that the same as mentoring? What does a consultant do?

The more we understand the similarities and differences of these professions, the more likely we can make sure you end up working with the right practitioner for your situation. The post is dedicated to untangling the intricacies of each, so that we can ensure you’re getting the best care.

Coach vs. Therapist

The biggest difference between a coach and a therapist is that a therapist is a licensed health professional and a coach is not.

Note: Although there are many accredited coaching programs, the coaching industry is not regulated by a governing body so anyone can just decide to call themselves a coach. It’s important to do your research before hiring someone, and asking about any certifications and trainings that they might have. (I am currently working toward my certifcation by the International Coaching Federation through the ICF accredited Mind Rebel Academy.)

While it’s common to work with a coach an extended period of time, sometimes for years, a therapist will typically work with someone for an even longer term. Therapists focus on healing and resolving past traumas – coaches are much more future-oriented, and focus on getting clients to a successful outcome or goal. As a healthcare professional, a therapist is also able to diagnose patient conditions, whereas a coach cannot.

Coach vs. Mentor

A mentor can work with a client for a prolonged period of time, sometimes for a lifetime! Mentors can have a more informal association and communication with their ‘mentee’, and are likely to meet in public places like coffee shops and office settings (a coach would not, as public places would break confidentiality and might prevent the client from digging deeper and really opening up).

One of the defining features of a mentor is their first-hand experience. You might look up to a mentor and want to know how they got to where they are. Mentors will share their guidance, insights, lessons learned, and wisdom. A coach, however is able to work with clients in a variety of domains and industries, even without having personal experience themselves.

Whereas coaches are future-focused and therapists are past-focused, mentors are usually present-focused. They will direct, advise or teach on ‘in-the-moment’ problems that the mentee is currently experiencing, and the present will often determine the topic of most mentorship conversations. Coaching and mentoring can be done together and can be quite a beautiful relationship between the practitioner and client.

Coach vs. Consultant

Consultants are clear experts in their field, and are called on for their professional or technical advice. They work to understand the problem and offer solutions. They might share their process, method or system with you. They will aim to give you the “right” answer, or at least several possibilities. They will provide a short-term answer to a very specific problem.

Which one is right for me?

Of course, his depends on what you’re looking for.

Are you looking to heal past trauma? Are you interested in reaching a specific goal, either personally or professionally? Is your issue directly related to a specific subject or field of expertise?

A coach is flexible and able to coach on a variety of topics and challenges (even if they haven’t experienced it themselves), because they’re not there to give advice. They’re not there to fix your problems for you. They’re there to work with you, the client – to help you grow and develop. As a result, they empower you to take control of your life and actions, so that you can reach your goals. They get deep into the root of your struggles and discover what’s truly in the way. A coach is your partner, your equal, who will guide you to discover your own solutions that are best for you. They will assist and encourage you, but also challenge you – that’s how the growth happens.

In addition, if you’re looking for a partner to also give advice, pull knowledge from their experiences and nuture your dreams and passion, the coaching/mentoring hybrid is the perfect option.

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Hi, I'm Katy.
Your lifestyle designer and business mentor.

Writing is my way of unwinding and letting my thoughts roam free. Every so often, in the midst of this creative chaos, something clicks, and I'm like, "Hmm, maybe someone else will dig this too." So, I toss it out into the world, hoping it lands with someone who gets it.
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