As an emotional intelligence and leadership coach deeply rooted in positive psychology science, I often encounter individuals seeking guidance on how coaching differs from therapy, or mentoring. In this article we explore what are the main characteristics of these different ways to get support on self-development and well-being, ultimately to reach a more balance life.

Understanding the distinctions can help you make informed decisions about the type of support that aligns with your goals and needs. Nevertheless it is worth noting already that these roles can sometimes overlap, and they are not mutually exclusive.

Coaching vs. Therapy: Key Differences

Both coaching and therapy have the ultimate goal to support individuals overcome barriers and move toward core goals and authentic living, but there are differences including the following.

  1. Professional Background: Therapists and counsellors require professional degrees, qualifications, accreditations, and licenses to practice. In contrast, coaching is a distinct profession that, while equally valuable, does not necessitate the same level of formal education.
  2. Focus on Timelines: Therapy often delves into past experiences and their influence on the present, offering a deeper exploration of personal development. Coaching, on the other hand, primarily focuses on the present, supporting clients in achieving measurable goals for a brighter future.
  3. Outcome Orientation: Coaching places a strong emphasis on attainable and measurable goals, fostering tangible results during the coaching process. Therapy, on the other hand, is often less outcome-focused and concentrates on inner subconscious and conscious development.
  4. Duration: Therapy can extend over several years, depending on individual needs and the therapeutic relationship’s effectiveness. In contrast, coaching typically follows a shorter-term approach, aligning with its outcome-focused nature.

What about Mentoring? The biking metaphor

A common question that prospective or current clients sometimes ask is: “What’s the difference between coaching, therapy, and mentoring?”

Let’s use the metaphor or biking to maybe illustrate some of the similarities and differences between the three practices.


  1. Coaching: Imagine you’re learning to ride a bike, and you seek a coach’s help. A coach would ask you to get on the bike and walk alongside you until you can ride independently. Coaching is action-oriented, designed to empower and motivate you to move forward.
  2. Therapy: If you approached a therapist with the same bike-learning challenge, they would explore how you feel about the bike, your past experiences with it, and any associated emotions. Therapy delves into your past and helps you understand why you feel a certain way and how past experiences influence your present.
  3. Mentoring: Seeking a mentor’s guidance would involve someone experienced in bike riding providing you with insights, tips, and a ‘how-to’ guide. Mentoring is about learning from someone else’s experiences and wisdom, allowing you to make informed choices.

Benefits of Coaching

Coaching is a growing industry, that is not regulated, and often misunderstood. There are nevertheless some generally accepted benefits that can be obtained with doing some coaching work, and that can enhance your personal and professional growth journey, as listed below.

  1. Performance Enhancement: Coaching empowers individuals to improve their desired performance and achieve their goals.
  2. Personal Development: It fosters openness to personal growth, leading to increased self-awareness and ownership over one’s life.
  3. Solution-Centric Approach: Coaching encourages the identification of positive solutions to overcome challenges.
  4. Self-Awareness: Clients gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, facilitating personal development.
  5. Clarity and Focus: Coaching provides clarity about desired goals and objectives, helping individuals stay on track.

Positive Psychology Coaching: A Scientifically Grounded Approach

Now I’d like to talk more specifically about positive psychology coaching, which is a scientifically backed method aimed at enhancing well-being, strengths, performance, and goal achievement.

Positive psychology focuses on positivity:  it aims to explore and identify the What, Where, How, and Why of such positivity for individual success in order to flourish.

But it is NOT toxic positivity. It doesn’t seek to remove negative experiences from life, but instead aims to bring balance in life and help individuals understand how negative experiences can serve a purpose in helping us to flourish.

  1. The Core of Positive Psychology Coaching:

Positive Psychology Coaching operates on the premise that exploring negative experiences and thoughts is a crucial aspect of personal growth.

  • Identifying and balancing positive and negative experiences.
  • Exploring values, strengths, weaknesses, resilience, and resourcefulness.
  • Utilizing assessments, tools, and feedback models.
  • Developing tailored, structured coaching journeys with measurable evidence.
  1. The Power of Positive Psychology Coaching:

Positive psychology coaching is a powerful coaching anchoring base, and it can notably help with the following.

  • Offers precision in goal-setting.
  • Enhances clarity about needed changes.
  • Facilitates swift results through evidence-based techniques.

Conclusion: Ready to Embrace Positive Psychology Coaching? I am here to support you

In conclusion, understanding the differences between coaching, therapy, and mentoring is important in selecting the right path for personal or professional growth.

Positive psychology coaching, with its science-backed approach, provides a structured and effective means to achieve goals and flourish in various aspects of life.

If you’re curious about how positive psychology coaching can transform your life or career, reach out to me today 😊

Together, we can embark on a journey toward enhanced well-being, performance, and goal achievement.

Sincerely yours,

Dr Sophie