Coaching Resources

Coaching vs. Therapy

Coaching and therapy have common goals: to support healthy outcomes and enhance the well-being of those they serve. But they are different practices with different approaches, and one or the other may be a better fit for a dancer’s needs. Sometimes, clients will work with a coach on one specific topic or goal and with a therapist on a separate problem or diagnosis.

Here’s an overview of the primary differences between coaching and therapy.



  • The client is functional and does fine with daily tasks. The client is considered psychologically normal and copes well enough.
  • The client wants to be better, grow, and achieve higher goals.
  • The client wants to improve performance, relationships, or life satisfaction.
  • The client is looking for an accountability partner to facilitate the next level of growth, advancement, or change.


  • The patient is struggling with dysfunction related to psychological concerns, issues, symptoms that interfere with daily routines.
  • The patient needs help coping, alleviating pain, or processing distress related to illness, disorders, or trauma.
  • The patient wants to work through their problems to get back to normalcy.
  • The patient is looking for a mental health professional to help them get well and live well again.
Source: Youth Coaching Institute

And here is an overview of the different approaches in coaching and therapy.



  • Present and future focused.
  • Solution-focused and action-oriented.
  • Strengths-based.
  • The coach does not offer advice, opinions, or solutions.
  • The coach facilitates the client’s progress, growth, and resourcefulness.
  • The coach helps the client build competencies and develop their own solutions.
  • The coach does not diagnose or treat.


  • Past, present, and future focused.
  • Problem or solution focused; it varies.
  • Can be strengths-based; it varies.
  • The therapist offers advice, opinions, and solutions.
  • The therapist helps patients understand or process what’s wrong.
  • The therapist helps resolve problems.
  • The therapist is a mental health professional who can test, diagnose, and/or treat health conditions.
Source: Youth Coaching Institute

Wellness Continuum

Think of wellness on a continuum, with the midpoint at 0, representing normal functioning. Negative numbers represent dysfunction and positive numbers represent thriving.

Therapy addresses dysfunction with the goal of bringing clients back to 0.

Coaching takes functional clients from 0 into positive numbers to thriving. Clients who live and behave within those higher numbers have developed strong resilience skills: even during times of challenge they are able to bounce within the range of normal functioning.

Recommended Reading

For parents and dance educators:

  • Big Potential by Shawn Achor
  • The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron
  • Belonging by Geoffrey Cohen
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • Generation Z Unfiltered and The Pandemic Population by Tim Elmore
  • Untangled and Under Pressure by Lisa Damour

For teens and young adults:

  • The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
  • The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron