October 11, 2016

Apples to Oranges

FAQ: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THERAPY AND COACHING?

Both therapy and coaching are excellent resources for addressing the challenges cancer brings forward. Simply put, they approach challenges in different ways with the same goal in mind: to live a fulfilling life on your own terms.

The following is paraphrased from Leah Barrett, a cancer survivor and psychotherapist who uses a coach.

“Psychotherapy focuses on helping one through a debilitating struggle. Coaching focuses on identifying barriers to personal growth, setting goals to overcome these barriers and supporting you along the way the way. 

“Psychotherapy explores how someone’s past has shaped who they are today. Coaching often stays in the present with a future orientation.

“Psychotherapy is a more neutral, impartial witness allowing one to come to their own insights and awarenesses. Coaching takes a more direct role by breaking up behaviors, identifying new values and perspectives one has developed and getting into action to achieve your goals.”

It’s also important to understand the difference in the education, training, and oversight of both specialties. Therapists often require several years of higher education to become licensed and are licensed by a state’s board of regulations. Coaching has a governing body called the International Coach Federation that requires over 2,700 hours of training, workplace experience, and education to achieve their Master Certified Coach accreditation. Both paths require the practitioner to be educated in their art, amass real-time experience, and adhere to moral and ethical guidelines.

These are just a few differences. Both resources are based on mutual trust and respect, offer a safe place to heal, and can help you let go of the old normal and support you in defining your new normal.

So what barriers has cancer presented to you? A career shift, medical debt, anxiety, marital stress, fear, the challenge of integrating your new normal? Which support is best for you—maybe both?

You can find out more about coaching through Coach Cancer here.


Leah Barrett is a cancer survivor, trained psychotherapist: a licensed clinical social worker, master level nutritionist, and certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sport Medicine. She’s worked for over 15 years helping people struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, life transition and eating disorders. You can contact Leah at (970) 481-0972 or leah@leahbarrett.com and www.leahbarrett.com