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Help! Who do I contact - a coach, mentor or therapist?

Updated: Jun 3, 2022

Do you know the difference between a coach, mentor and/or therapist? If not, know that you are not alone.

During my complimentary consultation, I will ask potential clients if they understand the role of a coach so that we are setting up the coaching relationship for success. In addition, as a credentialed coach through the International Coaching Federation (ICF), which is recognized as setting the gold standard for coaching, I want to ensure that I'm always acting in a way that honors the coaching profession. Reviewing this information during our introductory session helps to set the appropriate expectations for the coaching engagement.

So, are you ready to gain clarity related to the difference? Here it goes...

The ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” A pure coaching relationship should provide you with those "aha" moments that will drive you towards taking positive action that is truly right for you. A coach should not be directing and/or advising, which is often associated with mentoring. Instead, a coach should be asking questions that will allow you to have self-discovery moments and energize you so that you can achieve success in your endeavors.

If you need information from someone who has a life experience and/or expertise in an area in which you have an interest, then you will benefit from getting guidance and advice from a mentor. Mentors will share information that will allow you to learn from their successes as well as failures. They will also support and encourage you along your journey.

If you find yourself unable to manage through life's daily challenges, then a therapist can properly diagnose and help you to achieve a healthier state of mind - mentally and emotionally. A responsible coach should encourage a client to seek the counsel of a clinical expert if it is uncovered during a session that there is a deeper behavioral or mental challenge getting in the way of the client's ability to focus and complete tasks.

Below is an easy operating model for each role so that you can determine who best to engage. Note that at any point in your life, you may find that you can benefit from the assistance of folks in all of these roles. I know that I have and I'm am a better person for it.

To learn more about coaching, please view ICF's video below. If after watching you believe you can benefit from the services of a certified coach, please contact me at to schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation. I look forward to the opportunity to partner with you.


Michelle Biggs is the Founder and CEO of My Best Every Day Coaching & Consulting, LLC.

To learn more about Michelle and her company, please click the link below

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