The difference between psychotherapy and coaching
Sometimes you get stuck in life and you find yourself in need of support in the form of either psychotherapy or coaching. But what exactly is the difference between the two, and how can you tell which one you need?
If you want to set specific goals, and are willing to change your behaviour while working towards these goals, then coaching may be what you are looking for. Examples are: you want a better work-life balance, or you want to set clear boundaries at work, etc. With the help of your coach, you learn to experiment with new behaviour, resulting in the development of new strategies that help you achieve the goals you have set. Coaching need not be restricted to work-related themes; coaching can also help you discover how you can grow as a person by exploring undeveloped qualities and taking action in the direction of a more fulfilling life.
But coaching is not always the most appropriate approach. Sometimes, there may be inner roadblocks that prevent coaching from being as successful as one would desire. In that case psychotherapy may well be the path to choose.
During a psychotherapeutic process you and your therapist go a stretch further than what is normally done in coaching in order to uncover your inner roadblocks. How did they arise, and what part have they been playing in your life? How can they be coped with and what in your coping style needs to be altered (on a behavioural, emotional and/or cognitive level) so that they no longer hold you back? Maybe there is a yet untold story that needs to be told and has to gain recognition before you can move on with your life. Or perhaps you are struggling with certain emotions, trying to avoid or get rid of them in ways that increase your suffering even more. In psychotherapy you learn how to deal with your emotions, not in the sense of trying to eliminate them, but learning to face them, make room for them and use the information they have to offer in order to take appropriate action.
Many different topics can be the focus of psychotherapy, depending on your situation and your needs. The initial question you come into therapy with can either be specific or more general — this doesn't really matter. What is important, is that one acknowledges that psychotherapy does not offer instant solutions. It is a (sometimes, but not necessarily, slow) process in which we work together on an equal basis of trust, guided by the goals you wish to pursue. Given such a relationship, the healing process that takes place in psychotherapy can take its course, which will eventually lead to new ways of interacting with yourself and others. The result is a more fulfilling and satisfactory life.