No accessABSTRACT ONLYPsychotherapy in AustraliaJournal Article01 November 2010

Coaching and Therapy: Similarities and Divergences

    It remains unclear as to what activities are referred to by the term ‘coaching’. Amidst many different conceptualisations of the term, there is no agreement to date on its definition. Ernesto Spinelli provides a critical overview of the similarities and differences between coaching and therapy. While all manner of distinctions have been made with regard to the differences between the two professions, all are problematic and open to any number of counter-examples and argument. The divergences proposed rest on the implicit assumption of a unified, if imaginary, type of coaching as well as a unified, if imaginary, type of therapy. within the all-too-evident paucity of theory in coaching, the theories that do exist seem to be derived from an (albeit somewhat superficial) allegiance to, and understanding of, therapeutic or broader personality theories. Jopling’s idea of a ‘fuzzy space’ between the professions is drawn upon to reveal that the suggested differences between therapy and coaching inhabit a ‘fuzzy’ space rather than reveal clear-cut points of lasting contrast and comparison. Three major issues that provide pathways to both convergence and divergence between the professions are considered: contracting; the quality and type of relationship engendered; and the interrelational stance.

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