What is the difference between executive coaching, therapy, mentoring, and consulting?

Executive Coaching is a process which assumes that as a client, you are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, and that you operate within a normal band of behavior. You are not seen as “broken”, and so there is no need for you to be “fixed”.  The normal focus for coaching involves supporting you to clarify your vision for what you want to create, helping you develop a powerful mindset to achieve it, and then supporting you to create and implement a process for getting there. As part of this, coaching increases your capacity to make changes in many areas of your life. In so doing, the focus is primarily on the present and future, so that you can shift from ordinary to extraordinary results.

Therapy is a healing process that depends on a diagnosis of something traumatic that needs to be healed. Its focus is primarily on the past to the present, and its goal is to help people recover in order to lead a normal life. While coaching and therapy share some similar methodologies such as the use of open-ended questions and reflecting back what is heard, because their assumptions and goals differ, they are each useful in different situations. Therapy helps you “untangle the yarn”, while coaching helps you “knit the sweater”.

Mentoring is a process in which a senior member of a given field gives advice to a less experienced person in order to assist the more junior person in their career. The advice often focusses on tips and contacts that are specific to the role, company, or industry. While mentors usually do not have any training in how to help someone make transformational changes in the ways they are thinking, leading, and working, mentors often have information and knowledge to pass on that can be useful. Often people have mentors at the same time as an executive coach since they address different needs.

Consulting is a process by which someone shares their expertise in a particular content area in order to assist an organization to make a change or complete a project. The focus of consulting is primarily on a piece of work rather than the person doing the work. Consultants are usually hired for their content expertise and often will “do the work” that no one else in the organization knows how to do, and then, if appropriate, they may educate the organization so the organization can take over the consultant’s role going forward.