Coaching | Consulting | Therapy — which one is right for you?

Svetlana Saitsky
7 min readFeb 17, 2016

Knowing when and how to ask for help is one of the most powerful and loving things we can do for ourselves.

Culturally in the USA, and in the former USSR where I was born, most of us aren’t taught the power of receiving. We learn to be strong and to figure things out. We learn how to help others, and to be of service ( if we are lucky enough to have good parents and strong mentors) but I don’t remember being taught the power and importance of knowing how and when to ask for help.

No one taught me how to be vulnerable. So I ( similar to almost everyone I’ve ever met) spent years running around pretending I had it all together, stressing out, hoping that no one will “figure me out.” After interviewing hundreds of successful individuals throughout the last decade, I’ve learned that everyone is doing the same thing, and mostly, no one really knows what they are doing. Especially not the innovative and entrepreneurial humans I admire. And how would they know? To be an innovator means you’re doing something completely new! This is how we grow. If we only do what we can, we’ll never be who we can be.

Typically, anyone who thinks or says that they do have it all together is either lying or about to experience life proving them an opportunity to grow ( aka : everything falls apart.)

And, it’s OK. Really, it is OK.

You are not alone. You are human. So, now that we got that out of the way…

We are all in this together.

As we float around in space, this whole game (that no one quite knows how to play) can get quite complicated at times. And whether you’re a top businessperson, scientist, teacher, parent or artist, you are bound to go through time in life when things simply don’t make sense. You feel lost. And what makes it worse, is that you expect yourself to have it all together and deal with it. You imagine that you’re strong enough to sort through the mess. And sometimes you might be. But sometimes, you might not be. And I bet that anyone you admire might have been through something similar ( multiple times even) and they made it through, and what helped them was not doing so alone.

In my experience, the ones who ask for help seem to play the game of life more powerfully. In fact, those who ask for help often, and without shame are actually excelling at the game. Why do you think so many of the famous humans we all admire as a society have an entourage — it’s not about being “cool,” it’s because the more you do, the more support you need.

So how do we find our entourage? Our support system? Those people who help us through life’s ups and downs? Those we ask to come along and ride the VIP bus of our life? The ones who help us steer that bus gracefully?

Personally, I learned the power or asking for help when I was working for Google. I realized then that no company or fancy title or product was going to change the fact that I was very human, and that no matter how great I am at certain things, I needed support with others. When this realization hit, I wasn’t sure who to turn to for support, and my life ended up getting very messy and difficult before I found the support I wanted and needed. Ultimately, what empowered me most was the entourage that I created. I learned during this most challenging time of my life, the truly transformational power of a coach, of a therapist and of a consultant. I also learned the difference between the three. My own experience with all three inspired me to change the course of my own life, and to share my stories, because I know I am not the only one who is both powerful, vulnerable, needs help often struggles admitting it, and receiving it.

So let’s do this together….

As a coach in training, a consultant by trade, and a person who has been studying and partaking in therapy for a few years now, I feel it’s important to first admit that yes, I have support in my life, and I am proud of it. I can only hope that I continue to invest in myself so much that I constantly have a coach, consultant and therapist on my team. Sometimes, all three might not be necessary and one is more than enough. Here’s how to tell who to reach out to for support if you’re feeling a bit stuck:

Coach: Coaching is all about asking powerful questions. If anyone claims to be a “life coach”, “ business coach” or “ _insert any other word_ coach” and tries to tell you how to do anything, they aren’t a great coach. No coach should ever claim to be able to fix anything in your life because a key and fundamental principle of coaching is that nothing is broken — you are perfect and whole, AND transforming. Coaching is also forward focused — so it’s not at all about the past. Coaching is all about where you are headed. What present and future are you looking to create? What are your dreams for your life?

The best coaches in the world know what questions to ask you, so that you become empowered enough to lead yourself to your answer. Because see, you already know. You just don’t know that you know.

Coaches hold your hand along the way as needed. They can be a wonderful mirror and reflection, and like the coaches I’ve personally studied, interacted and worked with, they have an incredible ability to inspire, motivate and encourage you to find your most AUTHENTIC you. Having a great coach in your life, in my experience, is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give yourself. It is a truly priceless investment. This is why I became a coach and why I am making it official through a certification at one of the world’s top coaching schools. And by the way, a piece of paper does not make anyone a great coach. What it does do, is open a few more doors, especially if you’re interested in working within corporations (which I am.)

Reach out to a coach if you’re wanting to get somewhere, but aren’t exactly sure how. Perhaps you’re stuck at work, or in a relationship. Perhaps you have a big dream that you’d like to bring to life and would like some clarity and support. And remember, don’t expect to be given answers, but open yourself up to the possibility of finding them within yourself, with support. Expect to feel empowered through deep self exploration. Coaches teach you how to fish, rather than make you dinner. But if you’re hungry and would like to be served something delicious… welcome to consulting.

Consultant: Consultants (especially great ones) are typically individuals who are experts in certain areas and provide their clients with tangible guidance, resources and solutions. There are all kinds of consultants out there, but for this conversation, if you’re an individual who is struggling with certain things in life ( say a work or romantic issue) and are searching for answers, a consultant can be a great person to seek out if you want concrete answers to your specific problem and question. Seek out a consultant who has achieved success in an area you are interested in. If you want to be a published author, I would seek out a successful published author as a consultant.

In my experience, consultants are much more powerful in the business context than in the life/love realm because are hearts tend to be more complex than our minds. Regardless of your area of focus, there are individuals who have come before you and achieved the kinds of things that you dream of. These individuals make incredible consultants. They are forward thinkers who help you achieve goals by providing concrete tools and advice.

Therapist/Counselor: Typically, therapists are working with individuals who are interested in exploring the past in order to gain a better understanding of themselves in the present. Unlike coaching or consulting which focus more on the present and the future, therapy is a place to spend as much time as you need exploring the stories of the past, looking into your childhood, family life and really anything and everything that happened “once upon a time.”

Therapist are great for individuals who are dealing with life’s more traumatic issues. For example, if someone close to you has recently passed away and you’re struggling with grief or depression, a therapist could be extremely supportive . Really, any kind of deep grief is best addressed with a professional counselor or therapist, and maybe even Psychiatrist, if you require medication. If someone has a substance abuse problem that is affecting their life, a therapist is a much more appropriate person to seek our than a coach or consultant because they can spend the time needed to really explore what brought an individual to their current state and then, together, you work through it.

As always, everything I write is based on my own experience and research, and you’ll find that there are a variety of therapists, coaches and consultants out there who blend their modalities and services. Personally I am 50/50 coach/consultant when it comes to transformation. Having spent 10+ years researching positive psychology and specifically — happiness, inspiration and then depression and personal transformation, my speciality is coaching/consulting individuals going through massive change in life and wanting to do so in the most self-realized and conscious way possible. We go on a journey together, and it’s a journey inward and outward. The experience is exciting, confronting, curious, beautiful and often quite challenging. In the end, everyone comes out stronger and more empowered. Dreams are realized. Inspiration is manifested. Massive action is taken.

If you’re interested in learning more about working with me, please visit my website and send me a note. To find some great therapy resources, please check out Also, please don’t let financial limitations stop you, as many practitioners offer siding scale and low-income options. Please ask for help. There is no shame.

Take care of yourselves. You are beautiful and worthy.


#mentalhealth #depression #coaching #motivation #leadership #coactivecoaching #empowerment