Couples Coaching and Couples Therapy — What’s the Difference?

Both coaching and counseling are professional relationships that can support couples at various points in a relationship.  Both focus on enhancing communication, trust, and intimacy.  So, when do you need a relationship coach and when do you need a couples counselor or therapist?

The difference between traditional counseling or therapy* and coaching is the same for individual clients as well as couples.  As coaches, we see our clients as whole and complete.  We believe that our clients are creative problem solvers and that we serve simply as an observer and facilitator, helping clients reveal solutions by drawing attention to limiting behaviors and beliefs and creating new ones and therefore new possibilities.  Therapy comes from an underlying belief that the client, or the relationship in this case, needs fixing and that the therapist can provide a solution to the client.  This can often be very effective, but it may also be a “one size fits most” approach.  By contrast solutions (practices) identified in coaching sessions are co-created, therefore they are customized to the client and relationship.

Often, couples seek a marriage counselor when the relationship has hit a serious crisis or when one or both members of the relationship is no longer committed to the relationship.  Many relationships will move into divorce even after a therapist has been engaged.  Even in relationships that stay in tact, many couples end their relationship with the counselor once they’ve declared their relationship “fixed.”

While coaching can also be very effective as a result of a crisis, coaches don’t see the relationship or the people in it as being “broken.”  We help to identify recurring patterns and habits and establish new ones.  We invite couples to begin a journey of self discovery and to share that with each other to establish a foundation of deep intimacy. As a result, coaching is very applicable to couples at various points in a relationship, particularly around major transitions and life events.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Preparing for Marriage (Coaching the Relationship is a fantastic pre-marital program)
  • And Baby Makes Three
  • Learning to Co-Parent
  • Empty Nesting
  • Retiring Together
  • Supporting Each Other Through Career and Life Changes

Izande Personal Coaching’s unique approach to relationship coaching also focuses on individual coaching as well as coaching together and provides a dedicated coach to each member of the relationship.  This approach can be powerful by itself but can also complement a therapeutic relationship.  Read more about our couples program or contact us for to schedule a more personalized conversation to see if coaching is a right for you.

*Note that for the purpose of this post I will be generalizing a ‘traditional’ approach to counseling, however many counselors use coaching-like approaches.  Similarly, the coaching work often draws upon other disciplines which may also include consulting, advising, mentoring and more in the service of clients.

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