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Q&A with Jennifer Schwtyzer, LMSW:
Understanding the differences between
Professional Coaching & Therapy

Jennifer Schwtyzer, LMSW coaching and therapy provider


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I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen to get some more insight about the differences between coaching and therapy so that anyone who is weighing their options can feel confident in their decision and get the support they need to grow and thrive.

Jen is a social worker and a certified Life Coach who launched KINDfulness Coaching to help professionals ditch chronic stress, overwhelm, and burnout to establish calm, productive order in women’s life and in business.

Q1: What is the difference between coaching and therapy?

This is a question that many people struggle with as it can be confusing to differentiate the roles of coaching and therapy. There are likely many coaches and therapists who will have different opinions on this question however I like to keep it simple for my clients. Ultimately as a clinician and coach, it comes down to my ability to differentiate when a coaching session starts to veer into therapeutic territory and vice versa and setting clear expectations from the beginning. 

A coach is someone who primarily focuses on the present and future, helping clients set and achieve specific goals. Coaches work with folks to enhance their performance, develop skills, overcome obstacles, and create action plans for success. 

A therapist on the other hand focuses on the past, present, and future to help folks explore and resolve emotional and psychological stressors. Therapy can dive into deep-rooted patterns, beliefs, and traumas that coaches may not explore as they may not have the training to do so. Therapists diagnose and treat mental health conditions and use various therapeutic modalities to facilitate healing and growth

Q2: How can clients decide between professional coaching and therapy?

Clients can decide between working with a therapist or a coach by considering their specific needs and goals. If they are primarily seeking support for personal growth, goal-setting, and improving performance, working with a coach may be the best choice. On the other hand, if they are dealing with emotional or psychological issues, past traumas, or mental health concerns, seeking therapy with a qualified therapist is recommended.

It’s important for clients to assess their desired outcomes and consider whether they require support in addressing emotional issues. If someone isn’t sure, qualified coach can help a client to determine whether their specific needs might warrant a higher level of service. This is why it’s so important to research and ask a coach about their training and background.

Q3: What are some things clients can consider when deciding between a professional COACHING AND THERAPY?


Determine if the primary need is personal growth, skill development, and goal attainment (coaching), or addressing emotional/psychological issues and mental health concerns (therapy).

2. Time Orientation Differences in Therapy and Coaching

Assess whether the situation requires short-term goal-oriented support (coaching) or long-term exploration of underlying issues (therapy).

3. Training & Qualifications of Therapists vs Coaches

Consider the qualifications, certifications, and experience of the coach or therapist to ensure they have the necessary expertise in the specific area of focus.

4. Limitations Of coaching and therapy: Scope of Practice

Understand the limitations and boundaries of each profession. Coaches cannot diagnose or treat mental health conditions, while therapists are trained to address psychological issues.

5. Professional Guidance

Seek recommendations, read reviews, or consult with professionals in the field to gather insights and make an informed decision based on individual needs.

6. Personal Comfort

Consider personal preferences and comfort levels. Some individuals may feel more at ease discussing personal matters with a therapist, while others may prefer the action-oriented approach of a coach. By considering these factors, clients can make an informed decision and choose the professional whose expertise aligns best with their specific needs and desired outcomes.

Q4: What types of things do you work on with your coaching clients?

KINDfulness Coaching specializes in helping women dealing with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety to discover a sense of calm and productivity in both their personal and professional lives. By assisting clients in identifying priorities, setting boundaries, and boosting motivation, we aim to simplify their lifestyles. As a result, our clients report improved work-life balance, reduced guilt in family matters due to increased time, higher energy levels, and a greater sense of fulfillment from prioritizing their own well-being and personal growth.

Q5: What do you feel is the biggest difference in your style when coaching versus providing therapy?

This is a tough one! I always strive to be authentic and let my personality shine in both settings while building a strong rapport with my clients. In coaching sessions, I tend to be more relaxed and open, sharing personal experiences more freely than in therapy. The most significant difference lies in the expectations in and after each session. In therapy, we often delve into the root causes of a client’s feelings and thoughts, which may take multiple sessions to unpack.

On the other hand, coaching is highly solution-focused, where we immediately work on action plans and strategies to achieve goals. As a coach, I act as a supportive guide, ensuring progress and accountability, and empowering clients to tackle challenges and move forward swiftly.

Q6: What are the different styles and approaches you use when providing professional coaching

Much like therapy, coaching encompasses various specialties. Coaches can have a broad focus, such as life, health, or career coaching, or they might specialize in very specific niches, such as, supporting parents of children aged 5-12 with ADHD. If you are looking for a specific coach, a quick google search will bring up many different options. 

Q7: Do you think it's beneficial for therapists and coaches to work together?

Absolutely, I love working with clients who are also working with a therapist. There are many benefits which can include:

  • Therapists and coaches bring different skill sets and perspectives. By working together, they can address both the emotional/psychological aspects (therapist) and the goal-setting/action-oriented aspects (coach) of a client’s journey, providing more comprehensive and potentially holistic support.
  • If a client has completed therapy and wants to focus on personal growth and goal attainment, a coach can help them smoothly transition by building upon the progress made in therapy and guiding them towards their desired outcomes.
  • Therapists can refer clients to coaches when they have specific goals that require focused guidance and action plans. Coaches can provide accountability, motivation, and support to help clients achieve those goals.
  • Coaches working alongside therapists can provide feedback on clients’ progress outside of therapy sessions. This collaboration allows for a more accurate assessment of how clients are implementing therapeutic insights and strategies in their everyday lives.
  • Coaches can provide ongoing support to clients after they have completed therapy, helping them maintain and build upon the progress made while continuing to work towards personal and professional growth.
  • It’s important for therapists and coaches to have clear communication and collaboration protocols in place to ensure the client’s well-being and avoid conflicts in their roles.

Q8: Do you think there are potential pitfalls of therapists & coaches working together?

Yes! If the roles of the therapist and coach are not clearly defined, there may be confusion about the scope of practice and professional boundaries. This can lead to overlap or conflicting guidance, causing confusion and potential harm to the client.

Therapists and coaches have different ethical guidelines and responsibilities. It’s essential to ensure that both professionals adhere to their respective ethical standards and maintain client confidentiality, informed consent, and professional boundaries. Not all therapists and coaches are experienced or trained in working collaboratively. It’s important to ensure that both professionals have the necessary skills, training, and experience in integrating their approaches effectively.

Effective communication and coordination between the therapist and coach are crucial. Without clear and open lines of communication, important information about the client’ may be missed, leading to ineffective or conflicting support.

Mitigating Pitfalls of Coaching & Therapy Overlaps

In some cases, clients may become overly dependent on both the therapist and coach, seeking support without developing self-reliance or coping skills. This can hinder the client’s long-term growth and self-sufficiency.

To mitigate these pitfalls, therapists and coaches should establish clear roles and responsibilities, maintain open communication, and ensure that the client’s well-being and best interests remain the priority. Collaboration between professionals should be based on shared goals, mutual respect, and a commitment to providing comprehensive and ethical support.

Our Conclusion on the differences between Coaching & Therapy

In conclusion, it becomes evident that coaching and therapy present distinct approaches to helping individuals navigate their challenges and achieve personal growth. The key differences lie in the focus of the sessions, the providers credentials and the skills used to help individuals grow.

In the realm of psychotherapy, the focus centers on exploring and understanding the underlying causes of a client’s emotions and thoughts. This introspective journey may span across several sessions, delving deep into the roots of their struggles to foster lasting healing and transformation.

On the contrary, professional coaching adopts a markedly solution-oriented approach. With a strong focus on goal-setting and achievement, coaching immediately initiates the development of actionable plans and strategies. Through this proactive process, clients are empowered to make tangible progress and attain their desired objectives effectively.

It is essential to recognize that both professional coaching and psychotherapy play vital roles in supporting individuals’ well-being and personal development. The choice between the two depends on one’s specific needs and preferences, as well as the nature of the challenges they face. Ultimately, by understanding these differences, individuals can make informed decisions about which path best aligns with their aspirations.

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Rebecca Sidoti, LCSW

Rebecca Sidoti, LCSW

Rebecca is the founder of Mind by Design Counseling. She is an expert in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and has a knack for working with high-intensity, driven individuals who are seeking the ever-elusive balance of professional and personal wellness.