Coaching vs therapy – stop looking for boundaries

It’s hard for coaches to harm their clients. We should worry more about what we can learn from therapy, said executive coach Jenny Rogers.

“There is lots of therapy in coaching and lots of coaching is like therapy. We should stop searching for the non-existent boundary – it’s grey,” said Rogers.

“If I really believe that clients can choose how they respond, that we can’t make other people happy, I find it hard to see how we can harm clients with our incompetence by straying into therapeutic territory,” said Rogers, speaking at the EMCC UK’s annual conference.

According to Rogers, coaches’ fears about therapy are often to do with their ability to cope, including concerns about getting “in too deep”, or the client rejecting them if they suspect they are “doing therapy”.

She acknowledged that coaches have to be very careful if their client is showing signs of mental illness. Warning signs include long-lasting emotional outbursts, constantly revisiting past trauma, threats of harm to self or others, persistent physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, severe psychological problems such as OCD and depression, and developmental disorders.

Often clients will tell Rogers that they know coaching isn’t therapy but that they find it “therapeutic” anyway. “The difference is in how many pounds I can charge for what I do.”

Coaching at Work, Volume 5, Issue 4