Understanding the Differences Between Coaching, Consulting, and Therapy

Discover the nuances between coaching, consulting, and therapy. Master Career Strategist Aricia Shaffer explores a hybrid approach for holistic personal…

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In today’s blog, Master Career Strategist Aricia Shaffer delves into a question that often confuses individuals exploring personal development – the distinctions between coaching, consulting, and therapy. Drawing from her background as a therapist, Shaffer sheds light on the unique qualities of each approach and discusses the importance of selecting the right tool for your specific needs.

Coaching – Asking the Right Questions

Coaching is described as a process where a professional guides you by asking the right questions, helping you discover your own answers. Shaffer emphasizes that coaches are trained to ask specific, insightful questions, focusing on where you want to go rather than dwelling on the past. While coaching isn’t regulated, it’s crucial to vet potential coaches for their training and background.

Consulting – Tapping into Expertise

Consultants, on the other hand, are experts in a particular field, armed with the knowledge and experience to guide you successfully. Shaffer points out that consultants provide suggestions and advice but may not delve into the same thought-provoking questions as coaches. They are valuable for those seeking specialized expertise in their career pursuits.

Therapy – Exploring Emotions and Motives

Therapists, with extensive education and often holding advanced degrees, examine the motives behind behaviors and emotions. Unlike coaches and consultants, therapists focus on past experiences and their influence. While not employment experts, therapists bring a unique ability to understand client motivations and feelings, ensuring they address the root causes of issues.

The Hybrid Approach

Shaffer advocates for a hybrid approach, combining the strengths of coaching, consulting, and therapy. She shares a client’s story, demonstrating how a blend of these approaches can lead to a comprehensive understanding of one’s life, including career goals, relationships, and personal well-being. By utilizing tools from therapy without conducting therapy, Shaffer helps clients navigate various aspects of their lives.


As you embark on your personal development journey, it’s crucial to understand the differences between coaching, consulting, and therapy. Each approach offers unique benefits, and the key is to find the right blend that suits your needs. Whether you’re seeking career guidance, expert advice, or emotional support, a thoughtful combination of these approaches can lead to a more holistic and fulfilling personal and professional life.


Your first step is to reach out for a complimentary session.
We’ll talk about where you are with your career, where you want to go, and I’ll provide some thoughts and resources.
You’ll leave with some fresh ideas, insights, and maybe even an “aha” or two.