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Written by Valentina Dragomir, Psychotherapist | Fact Checked | See our editorial process

There is an increasing popularity and interest in coaching or personal development counseling, a field that can help people grow and overcome obstacles, succeed in their projects. But what exactly is coaching and what are its benefits? Is there any scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of coaching?

In this post you will learn essential info about what is coaching and how it compares to counseling or psychotherapy, what it is and what is not, to help you understand if that’s what you need.

Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.

– Pete Carroll

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a powerful practice that helps people improve performance and reach their goals. A coach is a person who is trained to help their clients unlock their potential and go in the direction they want to go. This practice started in sports and since then it spread in many areas of life.

It all started in 1875 when Harvard and Yale were playing the first American football games. Yale hired a head coach that helped the team perform at their best. Harvard did not. Over the next 30 years Yale won almost all the games except for 4, which victories were attributed to Harvard team. In the end Harvard hired a coach.

Coaching or personal development counseling is a popular service.
Coaching or personal development counseling is focused on a specific starget to reach.

Aside from sports there are many coaching areas as there are coach types depending on the area they are specialized in: sports coach, personal development/life coach, career coach, business coach, executive coach, vocal coach, diet and nutrition coach and so on.

Life coaching covers a wide area of intervention: personal development, soft skills development, managing resources such as time or money, practical steps for overcoming obstacles, building awareness that supports change in the client.

What coaching is not:

  • Coaching is not therapy or counseling (brief comparison below)
  • Coaching is not mentoring
  • Coaching is not teaching, but it facilitates learning
  • Coaching is not telling you what to do, but you work together with a coach to find the right steps, decisions, actions.
  • Coaching is not putting responsibility outside of you, but taking responsibility for your progress
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Recommended read: What is psychotherapy?

How coaching helps

Coaching can help in many ways. It’s hard to generalize because it may depend on a person’s objective. Coaching is beneficial because it helps unlock a person’s potential and qualities and use them in building personal effectiveness and performance. Let’s see the bigger picture of how coaching works and how it can help:

  • Helping people become aware of their pluses and minuses
  • Gaining awareness on where the person is now in their path towards their objective
  • Discovering and improving someone’s resources to reach to their goals
  • Guiding people to make the best possible decisions given their set of traits and resources
  • Planing the steps to reach the desired result
  • Evaluating the progress
  • Adjusting the plan
  • Encouraging reasonable risk taking to facilitate change

What are the benefits of coaching?

Coaching has many benefits. And depending on client’s objectives, coaching can bring clarity on the obstacles and overcome them to increase performance. What coaching can do for you isn’t only limited to workplace and career. You can bring the benefits in more personal areas of your life.

Another benefit of coaching is that it focuses on positive emotions and the current moment rather than past or adverse experiences from childhood and how these might have an impact in your today’s life.

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Personal development counseling or coaching has multiple benefits for people who want to achieve their goals

Some positive emotions can be hope, pride, joy, inspiration, gratitude, excitement or other emotions. You can bring the negative emotions and other negative experiences to coaching, but they are not the main focus. The main focus is to advance, make steps to create positive changes in your life, in your near future.

Another benefit of coaching is that it encourages positive changes and improved performance.

Using coaching to evolve as a person, you can find that you are more put together and your overall health and well-being are also improved.

Many of us are scared of changes even if they are good for us. Coaching can help shift this perspective and find changes enjoyable, normal or necessary for advancement and development.

Therefore, the benefits of coaching can be among many:

  • Clarity and shift for a positive perspective on change
  • Encouraging positive emotions
  • Encouraging positive changes
  • Improved performance
  • Personal development
  • Improved health and well-being
  • Accepting changes as normal part of advancement in life

Who can work with a coach?

Anyone can benefit from working with a coach. I’ll talk about life coaching because this is what I do. Life coaching is available to anyone who want to make a positive change in their life. Want to grow and overcome the difficulties they encounter along the path that leads to a happier life.

It is better if the person who seeks life coaching does not suffer or is impaired by a mental health problem. Coaching cannot help you with healing or overcoming mental health problems. That is what psychotherapy does as we will see in the brief comparison below.

Use coaching for performance, development, growth.

How can you know if you can benefit from working with a coach:

  • You have high levels of stress
  • You have problems at work or with coworkers
  • You feel irritable often times
  • You have various fears you want to overcome
  • You want to be confident
  • You lack friends or a social circle
  • You want to find a partner
  • You want to find a job
  • You find it hard to break bad habits
  • You seem to have problems managing your time or other resources

Why would you work with a coach who is also a therapist?

Coaches who are also trained mental health specialists can better assist clients. Not to mention that if a client could benefit more from psychotherapy, can continue working with the same specialist. This is a big advantage as the person does not make another change and find another specialist to work with.

Another advantage is that a therapist has a deeper understanding of how the mind works and can see the bigger picture. The knowledge and practice of a therapist can benefit the process of coaching.

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Recommended read: Psychotherapy in English for expats living in Bucharest →

Coaches could have no degree, some type of education or training, or extensive coaching education. It is a good idea to learn what type of training your coach has. And since coaching works in the realm of mind and behavior, it is better to work with someone who has a degree and understands how the mind works.

Can you have both a coach and a therapist?

Sometimes people want to work both with a coach and a therapist. That is ok as long as they know about each other. It is better if they know you see another specialist because they can collaborate for your benefit. You can work on different things with a coach and have other objectives for therapy.

Coaching and therapy can be equally valuable to a person. One is not better than another, but there are areas in which coaching isn’t recommended, or it may perform better compared to therapy.

These practices focus on different things and it’s important to know what to ask for from each of them. Look at the brief comparison between the two.

Coaching VS Therapy

This is a brief comparison between coaching and psychotherapy or counseling. Knowing the difference between them is important as it allows you to make a decision. There are some areas coaching and therapy overlap, but below we look at some important differences between the two.

Coaching focuses on outcomes. Coaching is taking the client from the current moment and works with his set of abilities to reach his goals in various areas in life. It does not particularly focus on understanding the cause of one’s behavior, but looks at the future and on the practical steps someone can make to reach their goal.

Happy man at work shows his joy with his arms up
Coaching or counseling for personal development is an intervention focused on achieving results.

Psychotherapy focuses on the process. Psychotherapy can also help someone reach their objective in multiple areas of life. Most of the time it focuses on emotional catharsis, processing the traumatic experiences, improving negative emotions and thoughts, and healing in order to increase someone’s life quality. The focus can also be on the inner world (conscious and unconscious) of the client to help them overcome their obstacles and grow.

Coaching does not provide tools for psychological diagnosis or mental health diagnostic criteria, that is the job of a psychotherapist or counselor. Instead, coaching provides essential tools for someone to learn about and discover themselves, and this is something that psychotherapy can do as well. In both practices the specialist supports you to make positive changes in your life.

Coaching is for people who do not need psychological intervention, people who have a balanced mental or emotional state, are not in crisis and don’t require psychiatric treatment. Think about it, if you need to heal you must get appropriate treatment. And in our case psychotherapy is both for people who have mental health problems and for people who do not. In this case psychotherapy covers the needs of a wider range of people.

Comparison Element Coaching/conseling Psychotherapy
Purpose Development, growth, performance. Healing, development, emotional catharsis.
Focus Outcomes, here and now, future. Process, here and now, past and future.
Psycho-diagnosis No Yes, therapists are trained to recognize mental health disorders.
Treats mental health disorders No Yes, therapists are trained to treat mental health disorders.
Duration Sort-term due to outcomes focus. Longer term, as long as the client needs it or finds it helpful.
Results Achievement of coaching goals, overcoming obstacles or difficulties, better life quality. Achievement of therapy goals, overcoming obstacles or difficulties, better life quality, improved symptoms.
Scientific evidence There is scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of coaching. There is scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

How long is one coaching session?

Coaching sessions have a different duration depending on the client. One individual coaching session can last between 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

How many coaching sessions do I need?

It is difficult to estimate the number of sessions each person needs. This is because each client has his own objectives and rhythm of work. There are many variables that can impact the number of sessions, such as the objective, obstacles encountered, readjustment of coaching plan.

Usually coaching lasts until the client reach the desired result.

How much does one coaching session cost?

Visit the price page to see all the prices.


In this post you learned about coaching:

  • What coaching is and what are its benefits and limitations.
  • How coaching is different than therapy and knowing when to seek coaching and when to seek therapy.
  • The main differences between coaching and psychotherapy or counseling.


PsihoSensus Therapy uses only reputable resources, scientific articles and research, medical journals and magazines, books and other relevant and reliable documents written by known researchers and specialists in the field, for writing articles. Read our editorial and publishing policy and how we write our articles.

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