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The Difference Between Coaching and Therapy

Along with being a Coach, I hold a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, a degree in Professional Writing, and am a Certified Preventionist.
I have also managed three substance abuse prevention grants for the state of Georgia and am heavily involved in advocating for Substance Abuse/Addiction Recovery.

I (Colleen L. Crawford) am trained to help people learn new skills and make significant behavior changes. I offer my skills in the areas of communication, problem-solving, and behavior change. This is done
through a service called "Coaching" in which you come to me for help in making decisions and implementing them, in order to achieve goals that you decide for yourself.

Although there are some similarities between Coaching and counseling, I will not conduct counseling with my coaching clients. These are different activities, and it is important that you understand the differences between them. Although both Coaching and counseling use knowledge of human behavior, motivation, behavioral change, and interactive counseling techniques, there are major differences in the goals, focus, and level of professional responsibility.

As your Coach, my job is to help you to take information and skills that you already have and ...


(1) to make decisions about which changes you would like to make (including your list of coaching targets/goals).
(2) to develop a personal "action plan" in order to make those changes, (3) to implement your action plan and make the behavioral changes, and (4) to develop strategies to maintain the changes you have


I will support, encourage, teach, and help you stay "on track" toward your goals. You, as the Client, set the agenda for your coaching, and your success will depend on your willingness to define and take risks and try new approaches.


You can expect me to be honest and direct, asking straightforward questions and using challenging techniques to help you move forward. You are expected to evaluate your own progress, and if the coaching is not working as you wish, you should immediately inform me so we can both take steps to correct the problem.


Like any human endeavor, coaching can involve feelings of distress and frustration which accompany the process of change. Coaching does not offer any guarantee of success.

Psychotherapy/Counseling, on the other hand, is a health care service. Its primary focus is to identify, diagnose, and treat nervous and mental disorders. The goals include alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying personality dynamics which create symptoms, changing the dysfunctional behaviors which are the result of these disorders, and developing helping patients to cope with their psychological problems. It is usually reimbursable through health insurance policies (while coaching is not, at

Psychotherapy patients are often emotionally vulnerable. This vulnerability is increased by the expectation that they will discuss very intimate personal information and will expose feelings about themselves that are understandably sensitive about. The past life experiences of psychotherapy patients have often made trust difficult to achieve. These factors give psychotherapists greatly disproportionate power that creates a fiduciary responsibility to protect the safety of their clients.


The coaching relationship is designed to avoid this power differential.
This means that if either of us recognizes that you have a problem that would benefit from psychotherapy/counseling, I will refer or direct you to appropriate resources. In some situations, I may insist that you enter psychotherapy and that I have access to your psychotherapist, as a condition of my continuing as your Coach.

It is also important to understand that Coaching is a professional relationship. While it may feel at times like a close personal relationship, it is not one that can extend beyond professional boundaries, either
during and after our work together. Considerable experience shows that when boundaries blur, the hard-won benefits gained from the coaching relationship are endangered.

My Approach

Personal Mission Statement: 

"To build my empire in order to bring healing to those who touch it."

                                                                              Colleen Davin Crawford

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