I’ve often heard people describe coaching as a sort of mash-up of consulting and therapy. But if you’ve never seen a therapist before or if you’ve never worked with a consultant, that definition will do nothing for you. And if you just Google each one, you’ll end up on sites with very clinical definitions that are either over-simplified and very dry, in my opinion, or overtly clinical and complicated. Neither one is helpful.
So, I thought I’d take it upon myself to attempt describe all three as simply as possible but in “real people” speak, so that anyone who’s not sure can make an easy decision about which is the best fit as they look for someone to help them accomplish their goals.
Typically, when you hire a consultant, it’s to analyze your business, identify any issues, and then make recommendations, and teach you how to solve the issue or reach the goal … and if you prefer, they will do the work for you to solve it.
Some people feel this is the quickest way to go from A to Z, by taking advantage of somebody else’s experience. As a long-time consultant, who was extremely wary of calling myself a coach, consulting was where I thrived until I realized that I wanted more for my clients. As a consultant, I felt empowered to set a course of action for my clients, and then lead them on that course. I did not hold them accountable to their own stated courses, goals, or actions. I did the work and then I got out of the way. Sometimes, this really might be all you need – someone to step in and solve a finite problem, while you go about your business doing the things you like to do and/or that you’re good at!
A coach will help you identify: your ultimate purpose, how and why things are working the way they are, your goals and challenges, and then help you devise a strategy and a plan to execute to get what you want. They will hold your hand and be your cheerleader, but they will not do the work for you. You hire them to teach you and to hold you accountable for discovering your own path, and doing your own work.
The most successful coaches are action takers, and so are the most successful clients! I find this relationship more fulfilling than the consultant/client relationship because we are connecting on a deeper level and I’m setting my clients up for long-term success in terms of mindset and fulfillment along their chosen path.
A therapist is (typically) not going to work with you on a strategy and a detailed plan to reach your goals and then hold you accountable week after week for taking specific action. In general, therapy focuses on the past to diagnose and address problematic beliefs and behaviors, change self-destructive habits and improve relationship issues.
Your therapist will help you recover from past traumas and help you change patterns that might be keeping you stuck, but they are unlikely to assist with planning and taking action for the future.
In all reality, the line is still rather blurry and the difference depends on the individual you work with – they may have skills and talents in all these areas. Sometimes you really need a hybrid. That’s where hiring someone like me with experience as both a coach and a consultant comes in handy.
Now, it’s worth noting that all three of these professions come in all shapes, sizes, and specialties. There’s no one size fits all, and there’s no silver bullet – you might even wish to mix and match over time to help you get to different results.
In the end, who you hire depends on the specific outcomes you want. If you want to solve a specific problem quickly and be less involved in how it actually gets done, go the consultant route. If you want to heal old emotional wounds, analyze your past and assess your behavioral patterns, go see a therapist. But if you are looking to work through your issues, build on your strengths, then create a specific plan and take the action to move forward, AND you’re 100% committed to doing the work to make that happen and you want a support team to help you do it, definitely find yourself a great coach!
But no matter what, know that you don't have to go it alone. There are tons of people out there who can and want to help you live a better life, grow your business, and become who you are destined to be!
If you're ready to do that now, reach out to set up a free GET UNSTUCK intro coaching session, and take the first step toward manifesting your ultimate business and lifestyle today!
Now, I'd love to hear from you? What has your experience been? Which do you prefer to help you handle your most urgent needs? Add your comments below!