Differences between coaches and psychologists, or coaches and advisors, or coaches and trainers, are often gray from the outside looking in.
Some years ago I read this riddle: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is ONE, but the light bulb has to want to change. Swap the word psychologists for coaches and the phrase fits like a glove in the coaching world.
While some differences are easier to point out, there are others that are more challenging. An obvious one is the difference between a psychologist and a coach. A psychologist is a licensed professional who is trained to assess, diagnose, and give advice; the psychologist works with people to help them become whole. A coach is a trained professional who partners with individuals that are whole so they self-assess, explore their opportunities and barriers, develop their strategy, and execute their plan to work toward goals they choose.
For the difference between the coach and the trainer, here are possible answers:
As a trainer, I seek out the areas where I see a plain need for training.
As a coach, I am more often sought.
As a trainer, I market through a prepared pitch and an auto-commercial.
As a coach, I market by answering the client’s questions – whatever they may be.
As a trainer, I am given the training topic and request full design autonomy.
As a coach, both the topic and the design belong to my client.
As a trainer, I am the sage on the stage.
As a coach, I am the supporting partner.
As a trainer, I test knowledge with pop quizzes, tests, or reports.
As a coach, I support self-evaluation.
As a trainer, I expect a minimum score.
As a coach, I ask the client how they measure their results.
As a trainer, I provide knowledge to highlight the end goal.
As a coach, I elicit expertise from within the client.
To shed light within, to achieve clarity for separating the grays into darker and lighter, (remember, it is never black and white) is one of the fundamental job requirements of a coach and one so critical, it is employed before the job even begins.