What is the difference between Therapy and Coaching?

What is the difference between Therapy and Coaching?

What is the difference between Therapy and Coaching?

Therapy and coaching are similar in a lot of ways. The biggest difference is therapy requires a medical diagnosis of the client, where coaching does not. Therapists are mandated to have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate degree and are mandated to work under a licensed clinician for several years before they are able to sit for licensure. Many coaches also have extensive training in a specific area (sometimes more than therapists) regarding many issues that are not limited to mental health. For instance, there are business coaches, health coaches, parenting coaches, fitness coaches and life coaches to name a few. However, specific supervision is not state or federally mandated for coaches.


  • Therapy utilizes evidenced-based therapy modalities such as CBT, DBT, ACT, MI, and trauma-focused interventions such as EMDR.
  • Therapy is recognized as a part of our state/national healthcare system and is therefore covered by insurance. However, insurance plans and coverage vary significantly across Hawaii.
  • Therapy is protected under HIPAA privacy and confidentiality laws.
  • Therapists are mandated to have at least a Master's degree and sometimes a doctorate in psychology and have worked under supervision for several years before they are licensed.
  • Therapy can only be done with individuals who reside in the state the therapist is licensed in.
  • Therapy services must include a diagnosis and notes for every session. These become a part of the client’s permanent medical file.
  • Therapists are equipped to handle crisis intervention and trained in mandated reporting, suicide prevention, and safety protocols.

We are only available to provide therapy for Hawaii residents.


  • Coaching is typically centered around goal setting and uncovering what is holding you back from reaching specific goals.
  • Coaching is not recognized as healthcare and is not an essential service. It is not designed to meet immediate, crisis, or essential mental health needs.
  • You may not be a good fit for coaching if you are currently struggling with significant mental health issues and not under the care of a therapist as well.
  • Many coaches also have extensive training, knowledge, and mentorship, but  training and supervision is not mandated.
  • Coaching can only be paid for out-of-pocket.
  • Health Insurance does NOT cover coaching.
  • Coaching can be done remotely and across state lines.

While coaching is not legally protected by HIPAA privacy and confidentiality laws, all of our staff are expected to uphold the same ethical standards as they would when providing therapy. Your information will be stored in the same hipaa compliant secure system that we use for therapy clients. This commitment is outlined in our informed consent forms.

*If you would like to utilize benefits from your insurance plan, you would need to seek therapy services rather than coaching.

If your intention is to work through deeper mental health issues, coaching may not be a good fit. Mental health concerns that are not a good fit for coaching include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Suicidal ideation and/or active self harm
  • Intense trauma work
  • Active substance use
  • Psychosis/Hallucinations
  • Intense personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Domestic violence

If you have questions about whether therapy or coaching is right for you, feel free to contact us!

Have Any Questions?

Give us a call or send us an email below. Looking forward to work together!