There is some overlap between the roles of a life coach and a therapist. Both work to enable clients to make positive changes in their lives and become more productive. But they’re not the same.
This blog post will explain the difference between life coaching and therapy and address some common myths. We also discuss what to consider when deciding which might be the better option for your current situation.
What is a life coach?
A life coach focuses on setting and achieving goals. They can support and assist your professional and personal life, helping you to make decisions and plan for the future. If you feel stuck, life coaching teaches you how to free yourself by encouraging and applying gentle pressure. By holding you accountable, they help you make meaningful progress on the goals you identify.
Life coaching resembles talk therapy because the focus tends to be on you. But, life coaches cannot diagnose or treat mental health conditions. Instead, they focus on your current situation – i.e. where are you, and where do you want to be?
What is a therapist?
Therapy helps you to create a space away from the pressure you might be dealing with at work or home.
Therapists help you to understand what’s contributing to your negative patterns and getting in the way of meeting your goals. The focus is on examining problems from their source, seeing how old internal patterns relate to your current situation and helping you heal. So you feel free to move forward and make the big important decisions needed.
In therapy sessions, you often return to the problems from the past that led to your current challenges. These include emotional experiences, patterns, trauma, learning, and beliefs.
The goal is to release any places where you’re blocked, leading to improved mood and lower anxiety levels. You develop healthier habits and a greater sense of happiness.
Watch our video below to meet Jordan Vyas-Lee, our CBT and EMDR Therapist.
Learn more about Jordan Vyas-Lee and Dr Jenna Vyas-Lee, our Clinical Psychologist, on our about Us page.
Here we dispel the three most commonly held misconceptions about therapy and life coaching.
Myth 1: Life coaching and therapy are the same things
Despite the occasional overlap, the work and processes of therapists and life coaches are distinct.
Therapy aims to help you heal, grow, and become more self-aware. The aim is to feel better and relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress. Happiness and ‘more success’ flows from this.
Life coaching helps you succeed, grow, and become more effective. The aim is to do better and achieve your goals.
Myth 2: Life coaches have the same professional standards as therapists
Therapists are required to meet strict education and training standards before they can register to practice. They must get specific degrees and have many supervised practice hours.
Life coaching, in contrast, is currently an unregulated profession. Meaning it is not held to the same rigorous standards as therapy. Most practising life coaches have the necessary education and experience to be life coaches.
Life coaches often choose to become certified and uphold the ethical and professional standards that brings. But, it’s up to you to determine whether a specific life coach is qualified enough to help you. With both, you need to feel comfortable with who you choose.
Myth 3: Therapists only work with people who have mental health conditions
Therapy isn’t just for those struggling with their mental health. Therapists can diagnose and treat from a healthcare perspective. But, therapy can benefit anyone experiencing stress, intense emotions or life transitions.
Therapy provides a safe, non-judgmental place to vent about your experiences, explore your options and develop skills to handle various life challenges.
How do I know who to speak to?
The decision between life coaching and therapy depends on your immediate need.
When to see a therapist:
- For support with your emotions
- You want to heal from past hurt or trauma
- You’re struggling with relationship issues
- If you’re experiencing distress from mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression
- For a deep and personalised understanding on why progress is blocked
See a life coach if you:
- Feel stuck and confused about the next chapter in your life
- Want to accelerate to the next step in your career
- Want to challenge yourself or break out of your comfort zone
- Are keen to motivate yourself for a major goal
- Need to hold yourself more accountable in your personal or professional life
When should I seek the help of a therapist?
The below list highlights some of the situations and signs that might encourage a decision to move into therapy.
- Have difficulty regulating your emotions
- Aren’t performing as efficiently at school or work
- Experience changes or disruptions to your appetite or sleep patterns
- Want to improve things, but you don’t know where to start
- No longer enjoy activities you used to
- Have experienced trauma, or you’re grieving
- Are struggling to build and maintain relationships
When searching for a therapist, look for someone you could feel comfortable opening up to. Ensure they have expertise in working with your presenting problems. It might be hard to trust your therapist initially. Read our blog to learn how to build a trusting relationship with your therapist.
Book an appointment with a private therapist
At Kove, we want you to feel empowered to make the right decision about your treatment. If you’re considering therapy, we can help.
We will explore your symptoms with you, arrange any necessary assessments and recommend a treatment plan.
Contact us to book an initial consultation.