Whats the difference between a consultant, therapist, and coach?

You have a desire for more, different, better. You have always dreamed big, but lately, it feels like you’ve lost your mojo. You’ve dabbled in this and that but haven’t found your groove. You know life has something big in store for you. Who will support you in living that next dream?

The Role of a Consultant

Many successful people work with consultants to help them jump to that next level of growth. A consultant is brought in to solve a problem. They bring expertise. Due to the nature of the role of a consultant, however, there is also the chance for feeling disempowered. My own experience has been echoed by coaching clients of mine: working with a consultant can leave you feeling unheard. The role of the consultant is to be the expert, not to draw the expertise out of the client. It’s a top down, “here is the plan that is going to work” approach.

When you hire a consultant you are doing so because you assume they have answers. There is nothing wrong with this. I have done my share of consulting. My subject matter expertise is pre and perinatal psychology, a fascinating field exploring how our lifespan development is influenced by our experiences between the point of conception and the first 12 months after birth. I have also hired consultants (thank you IT smarties who make my magic devices work properly) because every time I get a handle on some aspect of technology or social media it changes and I don’t have the passion for continuously learning about this subject. Consultants are great, but not at helping you uncover your magic.

The Role of a Therapist

Engagement with a psychotherapist is another way to uncover blocks and move to the next level of greatness. This involves deep intrapersonal exploration for the purposes of emotional healing, primarily focused on the past. My own experience with counseling, as well as the feedback I get from others, is that the strict professional boundaries put in place to protect the therapist-patient relationship leave a void in transparency, collaboration, and clarification of a plan. Much like with a consultant, there is a power differential within the patient-therapist relationship. The therapist doesn’t disclose their own struggles and triumphs, so the patient will never know exactly how far the therapist has gone in doing their own work. I know these things, in part, because I was trained as a psychotherapist.

Psychotherapy is very important work. I have a therapist because old wounds, like any injury, will flare up if not tended to. I am very clear about why I am there, and that is not to be asked about my big dreams or create action steps to get there. In fact, sometimes after a session, I feel there has been no movement, or I may even feel a regression of emotional health (that’s when I know it’s working).

The Role of a Coach 

Knowing when to hire a coach is still unclear for many. Coaching is for people who want to jump into their own process of change with actionable steps completed through sheer will to be better today than yesterday.

When I was 9 I was given a homework assignment to draw a picture of where I would be in 20 years. I drew a picture of an academy award (well, my brother helped me draw it because he’s a better artist). In my college advisor meeting, my professor looked at me and said: “you’re not going to be one of those people who just gets a job and works. You’re bound for something different.” For my study abroad instead of going to the UK with the rest of my peers I choose a tiny dot in Australia and made the move alone. Time after time I made choices in life that would challenge me, help me grow, enable me to see things in a new way, and allow my spirit to be free. For others like me, a coach may be a good fit.

When it became apparent that my career path was one of an entrepreneur I spent a lot of time and money on consultants and therapists who weren’t really helping me with what I needed. What I needed was the clarification of my ideas, illumination of my expertise, and strategy to harness my gifts to get where I was going. A coach’s job is to believe in the client and tell them that directly with no agenda other than helping them create the life they desire. A coach helps a client slow down and connect with what they really want and to think through logical steps to get it.

A coach is a project manager for people with big dreams, as cleverly stated by The Prosperous Coach. The project is the next big goal held by an extraordinary person.

Coaches help you connect with your own magic, wisdom, and power. There is no “treatment” needed beyond reflecting back the person’s innate brilliance and empowering them to move forward in highly targeted ways.

Having given and received the support of consultant, therapist, and coach I understand the differences between each professional role. This allows me to properly refer my clients when needed, as well as know clearly why between these 3 admirable roles I have chosen to serve as a coach. The work is powerful, empowering, and collaborative. When I work with my coach it is like taking a confidence pill that lasts until the next session. Over time the steps I take build my internal sense of control and competency. My dreams have a voice and rather than being overwhelmed with a plan, I am coached through the small daily steps that bring my dreams to life.


If you are ready for your dreams to take flight, let’s talk…I love hearing from you!

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