(Note: This blog was edited on 1/29/19)
One of the most common questions I get as a life coach is, “what is the difference between a counselor/psychotherapist and a life coach”? As a former therapist, I feel pretty qualified to answer this question but the truth is, there are a lot of commonalities as well as differences. As I started writing about this, I realized it is not an easy subject to explain. This is one of the reasons I offer a complimentary 30 min. phone session. If you are curious, why not try it yourself? It’s only 30 minutes and will put you on the path to a better and happier you!
Okay, here is my best effort at explaining the similarities. A good therapist and a good life coach are both there to help you. Both are there to focus on you and cater the sessions to your individual needs. They will help you overcome your struggles and help you to become a better version of yourself. Both offer a safe and confidential place to explore problems you are struggling with.
Now on to the differences... I won’t bore you with exact definitions but essentially therapy is a type of treatment which assumes you are having a serious problem that is getting in the way of your daily functioning. Often clients in therapy have a mental illness or severe emotional problems and in most cases have a clinical diagnosis. Life coaching, on the other hand, assumes that you are healthy and whole. Most coaches are not trained in treating past trauma or serious mental disorders. Therapy is there to heal you and get you to a place where you are functioning at baseline on a day to day basis. Therapy typically focuses on the past and may bring up childhood traumas. Coaching, moves away from the past and focuses on the future as well as solutions. As a coaching client, you do not need treatment or to be healed but what you are looking for is to flourish in life. You may feel healed as a result, but a coach assumes you have the internal resources to achieve your goals. According to the International Coaching Federation, “coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative resourceful and whole.” Coaching helps you identify what is blocking you from getting where you want to be. We also hold you accountable and responsible so you can move forward. According to the Institute for Integrative Coach Training, “This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential. My belief and my tagline is that I will help you to “discover your best self”. Coaching does not focus on the past, even though this can come up in sessions, it moves you to where you want to be in the future. My therapy background gives me the tools to know when to refer someone if they indeed need therapy rather than coaching. I am here to help you if you are unsure which is best for you.
There are many other differences and similarities so email me if you have any questions. What’s most important in either discipline is how comfortable you feel opening up to and trusting the person you are working with. As a team, you and I can help YOU Discover Your Best Self!