The Boardroom Beat #6



The Boardroom Beat celebrates curiosity. The Monthly format is Q&A&Q:

  • Question from a GALA member or staff
  • Answer based on experience, case study, best practice, or innovation
  • Question back to push customized thinking
Question: What is the difference between therapy and coaching?

Answer: Therapy helps you understand your past and guides you to a healthy present. Coaching explores and encourages your path forward. It guides actions to close the gap between where you are where you want to go.

Question: When you think of how you want to show up and where you want to go, what gets in the way?

Which is best for you?

There is no one size fits all answer. Some know that without reconciling past issues, traumas, or patterns they are stuck. Setting goals and making changes is an exercise in futility and frustration. The answer is therapy. Others seek encouragement, ideation, or guided self-discovery to explore how they might align their gifts, capabilities and passions to be better leaders of themselves and others. The answer is coaching. Some have a foot in each camp. The answer is both if financially viable. If not,`start with therapy. At a later point try a coaching session. Many coaches offer a free initial consultation. I offer Pro Bono Wednesdays.

Both? Will you explain more about how therapy and coaching work together?

Therapy and Coaching are not mutually exclusive, they are synergistic. Corporate clients regularly share with me that they are simultaneously working with a therapist. These clients invariably get traction fast because they;

  • Are already comfortable with candor and transparency,
  • Are accustomed to balancing the time it takes to “go deep” with an awareness of efficient communication and billable hours,
  • Have practiced  “doing the work” of finding their own answers with guided questioning,
  • Have developed the discipline of reflection and introspection between sessions.

In past columns I addressed “Imposter Syndrome” and even led an exercise at GALA Connected to help members identify the “voices in their heads.” Sounds a lot like therapy, right? It is a perfect example of how the disciplines might overlap.  If the Imposter Syndrome voice is omnipresent and consequentially limiting a therapist is best suited to help. If it is more situational, then tools for building confidence and proficiency via coaching are well suited. And, there may be middle ground. Some at the GALA KnowledgeFest learned to recognize the omnipresent voice as an old friend and protector….one who did not have updated evidence of the attendees’ evolved ability to succeed or to learn from failure. Some thus solved an age old limitation with a grand “ah ha. ” The well-intentioned voice of caution was simply no longer needed.

What else is different about Coaching?

While therapy solves for the past and coaching solves for the future, there is one other significant difference. With Coaching expect a process of activation. At the end of every session clients share what they intend to DO as a result of the meeting. I may include additional recommendations but clients own a path forward that has been altered and/or accelerated by the session.

Do I ever Suggest Therapy Instead of Coaching?

Yes.  Most people sort it out before they engage or they thrive with the empowering support of a coach. But if coaching surfaces debilitating tentacles from the past then I absolutely defer to a different kind of expertise.

What Next?

If you are considering a choice between therapy or coaching go back to the question at the beginning this article. "When you think of how you want to show up and where you want to go, what gets in the way?” Let that be your guide. There is one certainty - THE ANSWERS ARE IN YOU!