June 02, 2021

What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

Though you may hear them talked about somewhat interchangeably, coaching isn’t therapy. The two processes differ in how they work, when they’re most appropriate, and how you might engage with them. Each has considerable benefits, and many people use both to maximize the impact.

We hope this guide to the differences between therapy and coaching will help you get the most out of your experience with Bravely.

The same: You!

Therapy and coaching are both about you. As the person receiving either service, you’re in the driver’s seat, and see the best results when you’re willing to be vulnerable and think deeply about yourself. Therapists and coaches seek to build trust with you, and with both, it can be important to find the right “fit” for that relationship.

Different: Focus and goals


Therapy is primarily focused on the past — therapists work with clients to understand patterns in their lives and behavior, the significance of past events, and how understanding those elements of the past can help them be healthy in the present.

Coaching is oriented toward the future — coaches guide people in envisioning their ideal future and taking steps toward creating it. Some people come to Bravely with a specific goal in mind, while others need support getting “unstuck.”

Different: Methods


A variety of methods have developed for both coaching and therapy, so your mileage may vary. At Bravely, we know that coaching can only be successful when there’s a balance of challenge and support. Our Pros strike a balance: thoughtfully encouraging you to examine your assumptions and dig deeper, while also validating what you’re feeling and fostering empathy. Many therapists will tell you that their work often stays at the “support” side of that spectrum.

Overlapping: Subject matter

In both coaching and therapy, no topic is inherently out-of-bounds. While Bravely coaching is focused on your life at work, we know that our lives outside of work impact how we show up as professionals. That is, “life at work” and “life” are inextricable.

Many people use their Bravely sessions to work on managing their stress, and building their self-confidence — among other mental-health-adjacent topics — but Bravely Pros cannot give you a diagnosis, even for work-related burnout.

If you’re unsure whether a topic is right for your Bravely coaching, ask yourself: “Is this keeping me from living my best possible life at work?” You can trust your coach to nudge you when the session approaches territory more suited to therapy. Your Bravely Pro looks forward to meeting you!

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