Coach? Consultant? Mentor? Therapist? What do you need?

“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” Susan B. Anthony

“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”

~Susan B. Anthony

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Should you hire a Coach?

A question I get asked a lot is: Should I hire a Coach? Consultant? Therapist? Or get a Mentor? It’ a great question; Mindy Alternatt, a Success and Leadership Coach, explains the differences. Read more about Mindy.

Mindy says, “It is a simple as riding a bike!” when asked, “what is the difference between coaching, consulting, mentoring and therapy?” I asked Mindy to explain how:

“I hope you’ll allow me to be playful. In this example I’m going to use the simple task of riding a bike and apply the context of consultant, therapist, mentor and coach to that goal. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that you used to ride a bike as a child, but as an adult it’s been difficult to pick it up again. You’d like to work with someone to help you fast track your goal, but which type of professional would be best?

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If you work with…

A consultant: A consultant is an expert in bike riding. They’ve already mastered the bike riding process and figured out the most efficient way to do it. They will typically assess what you’ve been doing so far and provide you with a detailed plan on how to do it correctly, complete with a step by step process. They get paid to provide you with “how to ride a bike” answers. They focus on the problem.

A therapist: A therapist is most interested in why you are unable to ride a bike. What’s in your past, or childhood, that presents a barrier to your learning? They dig in there and work with you to fix it. They focus on why the problem is there.

A mentor: A mentor has been riding a bike for quite some time and is there to share what they know about the process. They want to see you be successful and are willing to spend time with you. It could be compared to learning by seeing. They most likely have had the problem too.

A coach: A coach offers a different type of relationship altogether. There’s a lot of asking and not much telling. They are your champion. Helping you achieve your goal of riding a bike by asking thought provoking questions and shining a light on your strengths. They work with you to tap into what you already know, and help you break through your limiting beliefs. A coach will run alongside of you holding the bike steady while you’re learning. They’re cheering you on every step of the way, and they let go of the bike when you’re ready to ride solo. A coach is focused on you.

Even though each role is different, there can be, and often is, overlap. I know some fantastic consultants who have incorporated coaching methodology into their business practices. I’ve also attended professional coaching classes with many therapists who were adding the coaching methodology to their list of available tools to use with patients.

Whether it be consulting, therapy, mentoring, or coaching; there is a time and place for all four. They often work together to help their clients achieve rich and radical results. I hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion.”

More about Mindy Altermatt

Mindy Altermatt is a professional Success Coach, Speaker, and Founder of Big Bold & Brave Coaching. She works with heart centered small business leaders who are ready to say NO to a life of “busy” and YES to creating their own unique sense of balance and success.
Contact Mindy at


Dr. Lynn K Jones

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.


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