Coaching VS Therapy:
What is the difference between a therapist and a business coach?
Another way to think about this could be: What are the red flags you should look at in your coaching relationship?
Mental health and conversations around it are incredibly important. And, dare we say, we are in a mental health crisis in this country. We encourage any one in distress or struggling to RUN, not walk, to book an appointment with a licensed therapist.
Likewise, a business coaching relationship can be incredibly rewarding as an entrepreneur. It can be the thing you need to push your business to the next level, hold you accountable, and give you clarity and a clear path forward.
At no time should a business coach tackle issues with mental health. Coaches do not handle mental health issues, or handle someone in stress. Unless they are also a licensed mental health professional, they are out of line. If you are in distress, or struggling with mental health, that’s work for a therapist.
We like to think of it in terms of having a baseline. A therapist works with you in distress to bring you back to baseline. A business coach works with you from baseline to thriving.
Baseline to Thriving
When you work with a business coach you are forward focused. You are working together towards a goal. If at any time a coach senses that there is something from the past that is stress or trauma induced that needs to be addressed in order to move forward, they should then refer you to a therapist.
Therapists look at old wounds and works to help you heal things from the past that may hold you back. If a coach is working with you in that territory it may be a red flag. A therapist is licensed and credentialed to be able to handle different traumas and issues that can arise from picking at old scabs. A business coach is not trained to handle trauma. Period.
Personal VS Professional
There is a fine line to dance between the personal and professional as an entrepreneur. There are mindset blocks issues that need to be worked around often. There are things from our past that informs how we tackle our professional goals and problems moving forward.
So where is the line?
A coach may help identify blocks or issues that impact your ability to achieve goals, and then will work with you to take steps to move forward. But they do not pick that scab. They do not diagnose. They do not bring up past family dynamics.
If something comes up, they can say “I hear you” and see how we can move forward. But they don’t go backwards to try to figure out what happened in your childhood to bring you here.
Just like any profession, there are bad coaches out there. Buyer beware.
It is so important as a consumer to be aware of what we are buying into. While we at Serendipitous Rebel find coaching to be incredibly helpful and foundational to a being a small business owner (hello! We provide coaching!), we also firmly believe that you need to be aware of a persons credentials before you buy into their program, and know as a consumer where the line is.
We have both found ourselves in uncomfortable coaching situations where our coach has crossed a line. We’ve witnessed coaches cross the line and diagnose other peoples trauma. We’ve witnessed coaches try to tackle other peoples trauma without proper licensing or medical credentials. We’ve witnessed coaches liken themselves to therapist.
NO. NO. NO.
DISCLAIMER: A person’s personal experience with therapy does not make them a licensed therapist, nor does it give them the ability to diagnose other people’s mental health issues.
Just like we don’t seek business advice from our therapists, we don’t ask personal advice regarding our past traumas from our business coach.
It’s important to ask yourself, “What are the dynamics between the coach/client? in this room?”
While we all end up drinking the Kool-aid at some point or another, it’s important to ask yourself before entering in a coaching relationship “What do you notice about power dynamics between a coach and their clients/following?”
Coaching programs can often present themselves similar to cults. While we love the raving fans of Serendipitous Rebel, we would never encourage members to speak poorly about people that have left the program or who have decided to move on and do other things. Likewise, we would be wary of any blind followers in our community that would be afraid to question or push back on tactics that we were suggesting. Finally, we continue to keep in touch with people and cheer for their success even when they are no longer a part of our community. The idea that we would cut them off forever and never keep in touch goes agains why we do this in the first place. However, we have both sat in programs where this kind of behavior runs rampant.
Raving fans are awesome! Blind followers that aren’t allowed to question or leave without being totally ostracized are not.
In the end we are big fans of both coaching and therapy! Both can serve incredibly important functions in your life. Knowing the difference and being able to recognize healthy versus unhealthy relationships only helps you have a more successful outcome in both your personal and professional worlds.
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