Quentin Hafner

The Difference Between What I Do and Traditional Therapy

Many years ago, I transitioned from working as a therapist, into calling myself a Success Coach, for many good reasons that my clients find valuable, so I thought I would share here on this blog for anyone else wondering what the difference is between the two.  Specifically, I call myself a Success Coach because my chief aim with all my clients is to help them actualize greater levels of their definition of success, whatever that is to them.

The word “coach” and the word “therapist” can be a bit confusing, because there is some overlap in the sense that both aim to help people.  However, there are some very important differences that I want you to know if you’re considering working with one or the other.

Coaching and therapy are two distinct approaches to supporting individuals in improving their lives. While they both aim to help people make positive changes, they differ vastly in terms of their focus, methods, and goals.

I have always believed that people are unique and shouldn’t be in a “one-size-fits-all” box when it comes to getting the help they need.  That’s why it’s so important to know the difference between what coaching with me is all about and traditional therapy.

I have over 20,000 hours and two decades working as a licensed therapist, as well as a peak-performance coach to entrepreneurs, leaders, creators, and high-performers. I know the world of therapy, and I know the world of coaching.  I know what’s good about both, and what’s not useful about both. In the work I have created, I have taken the best parts of therapy and the best parts of coaching, and merged them together in my model of coaching; Skyward Success Coaching© . Here is my quick take on how traditional therapy is different from the work I do, and what you should know if you’re looking to partner with someone to help you in your life or business.

Success Coaching is a goal-oriented, outcome-based, and results oriented, where traditional therapy is most often none of those things. I will help you identify and achieve very specific objectives you have for your life or business. If you like going after specific, actionable targets of change, you’ll love the power in Success Coaching. If we work together, you’ll have clear and defined goals that are powerfully connected to the vision you have for your future self.  We’ll create desired outcomes that you feel passionate about and excited about tackling. As a contrast, many people find traditional therapy frustrating, and ultimately disappointing because of the lack of focused goal-orientation and clarity about where the process is going.

✅ Success Coaching is focused on your future self, and traditional therapy is focused on understanding the past. Although Success Coaching does incorporate a historical perspective to make sense of the present, that is not the focus of the work. Success Coaching is about creating something exciting and new, so when we work together, we’ll understand the past as it helps to shape the present and your aspirational desires in the future. Yes, it’s important to have insight into your past, so long as it’s connected to who you want to become and what you want to create in the future. Traditional therapy often remains stuck in a repetitive conversation about the past and family-of-origin issues that doesn’t translate to building the life you want in the future.

✅ Success Coaching is designed move into people greatness in any and all areas of their lives, from business, to relationships, to health, etc., and therefore is not focused on treating mental health problems. Traditional therapy, on the other hand, is a process that helps people fix psychological, and behavioral health issues, i.e., mental illness. Success Coaching clients are looking to up-level their lives, but don’t need to be, or want to be, viewed through a lens of psychopathology, which is the lens for which traditional therapy views people. Success Coaching is a model for people wanting to go to the next-level who are high-functioning and not struggling with mental illness, where as traditional therapy is specifically designed to “treat” mental health problems.

✅ Success Coaching is generally shorter-term in duration because it’s designed to help people get from point A, to point B, as quick as possible, with results. Success Coaching typically involves a shorter-term commitment than traditional therapy, which can be more appealing to people who may not want to be in therapy for years and years endlessly talking about their past, and their problems, with little to no tangible improvement. Success Coaching is all about results, as powerfully as possible, and as fast as possible.

✅ Success Coaching often incorporates the professional with the personal, and one of the limitations of traditional therapy is that there has no framework for helping people within the context of their professional lives. In Success Coaching, we look at how the two worlds of the personal and the professional are interrelated, intertwined, and impact each other. Success Coaching clients holistically up-level their lives, at work and at home, and no topic is out of reach; from business growth, transforming your marriage, to leading teams at work, to re-inventing yourself, to career acceleration. Success Coaching clients are motivated with making these two worlds synergistically work harmoniously together, whereas traditional therapists most often have no training or competency in understanding dynamics in someone’s professional life.

✅ And lastly, Success Coaching is a collaborative, peer-to-peer relationship between clients and the coach, where together we’re working to achieve exciting new opportunities. In contrast, traditional therapy relationships are more one-directional, with the therapist being the “doctor” treating someone who is mentally ill, and the client being the “patient”.  This can often feel patronizing, condescending, and create unnecessary barriers that keep people from reaching their goals. The collaborative approach of Success Coaching is great for individuals looking for a collaborate, back-and-forth, peer to peer, and hands-on approach to addressing challenges and creating opportunities.

Success Coaching and traditional therapy are both valuable, for different people, in different circumstances, and one of the best ways I can describe the difference in metaphor is the “mechanic” and the “carpenter”.  Therapy is like going to a mechanic to get something that is broken, fixed. Your car is broken down, and you go to the mechanic to get a specific problem fixed, so your car can get going again. I like to describe Success Coaching as hiring a carpenter to build your dream house. The carpenter helps you dream, envision things not seen on your own, and creates something more beautiful and spectacular than you had before. Sure, the carpenter may have to “fix” a few things in the process of building something new, but the role of the carpenter is starkly different than the role of the mechanic.  The mechanic can never help you build a brand new car, only to fix the old car that is broken.

If you’re considering one or other, I would love to chat with you about how my coaching process is life-changing and unlike anything else you’ve experienced.


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