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What is Coaching? (and coaching vs. therapy)

by Melanie Gallo, PhD

So Doc., What do coaches actually do?

In planning where we are going, we first need to establish where we are. There are alot of different terms and approaches out there, so below I define those concepts that specifically apply to me, Dr. Melanie Gallo and my Coach2GO app.


"Coaching [is] partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole." International Coaching Federation

Assessments and Personality Tests

Scientifically valid and reliable professional assessment can not be done for free on Facebook! It should be administered by a qualified professional then followed by professional feedback to discuss your results and develop an action plan for moving forward.

Training Courses

The big corporations offer leadership development training. In fact, I had the opportunity to participate in these types of workshops while working for Hyatt Hotels and The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. They were awesome and as a parting gift, we even received a leather bound planner. Today, most trainings occur online and can include a more personalized, interactive experience. Coach2GO offers that experience.

Mental Health Coaching As a mental health coach, my approach focuses on helping people take action in their lives to achieve a goal or make a personal change. Once you choose a goal or area to focus on, we can create a plan together to get you there, step by step. I provide support in areas such as physical, emotional, and mental well-being, personal and professional development, relationships, and communication, and much more. A big part of coaching revolves around creating a vision for what you want in life and then setting steps to create an action plan for us to work towards...and that's what my Coach2GO app has been designed to do.

Think of me as a coach with bonus features. I use a psychology-based coaching approach to help professionals navigate through the fog within the Work-Life overlap to boost the mental and physical energy to create Work+Life that’s Joyful.

Coaching vs. Therapy

I am often asked, “what is the difference between coaching and therapy or counseling.

In therapy, your goal is healing. In coaching, you’re following the trail of dreams. When you see little sparks of interest, excitement or increased energy, that’s where to go,” says psychologist Carol Kauffman, PhD, director of the Institute of Coaching, a nonprofit organization at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital dedicated to enhancing the scientific foundation and credibility of coaching. “Coaches use such methods as helping clients verbalize their desires and set goals to achieving them; asking questions to help them overcome obstacles to those goals; and encouraging them to enlist allies for support,” she says.

Other distinguishers include:


  • focus is prospective

  • orientation is on solution & capacity for change

  • achievement-focused/goal-oriented

  • co-created

  • short-term

  • focused on building skills and creating a toolbox for continued self improvement in the future

  • certification and credentialing are strongly encouraged

  • not diagnostic

  • clarifying for clients

  • provides practitioners with standards for client readiness

  • can work in collaboration with therapy and other clinical supports

  • clients viewed as already whole when entering a coaching relationship

  • change is self-developed

  • coach acts as a partner in the journey

Therapy (also referred to as psychotherapy or counseling):

  • typically retrospective

  • client has decreased level of individual functioning

  • may involve medication and collaborative care with a medical team

  • “why” oriented

  • long-term, though this varies

  • theory-driven

  • master’s degree required for license

  • licensing is required by law

  • typically generated through illness or dysfunction

  • diagnostic

  • healing for maladaptive behaviors

  • recovery from past traumas

  • relieving psychological suffering

  • sometimes covered by insurance

  • unfortunately stigmatized

  • offers guidance and advice

  • practitioner seen as an authority

Coach2Go is a digital coaching app for a WorkLifeJoy community. If you haven’t already downloaded my free app (powered by Wix) you can sign up here. If you have the Spaces by Wix App, just enter the code COACH2GO to join.


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