The Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist
Updated: Oct 6
Though the terms "life coach" and "therapist" are often used interchangeably, there are actually important distinctions between these two professions. By understanding these distinctions, you can determine which type of professional is most suitable for you.
What is a Life Coach?
A life coach helps individuals reach their personal and professional objectives. These professionals usually specialize in areas such as career, relationships, health and wellness, working with clients to devise strategies for success within these realms.
Life coaches usually employ a range of tools and techniques to assist their clients, such as goal setting exercises, visualization techniques, and accountability measures. They may also offer guidance and support as the individual makes life transitions, makes critical decisions, or overcomes challenges.
One major distinction between life coaches and therapists is that life coaches typically focus on the present and future rather than the past. While therapists may dig into a client's past experiences to help them heal from trauma or tackle mental health obstacles, life coaches are more concerned with helping their clients move forward and reach their goals.
What is a Therapist?
A therapist provides mental health support to those struggling with issues like anxiety, depression, trauma and relationship problems. Therapists use a variety of techniques and approaches such as talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness techniques.
Therapists are qualified to assist clients in exploring their past experiences and emotions, as well as understanding how these may be affecting their mental health and well-being. They may assist clients in devising coping strategies, setting healthy boundaries, and working through unresolved matters in personal or professional lives.
One of the primary distinctions between therapists and life coaches is that therapists are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. They may also be licensed to prescribe medication to help clients manage symptoms associated with mental illness. Life coaches do not have this training, as they typically focus on helping clients reach personal and professional goals instead.
Which Professional Is Better for You?
Determining whether a life coach or therapist is the best fit for you depends on your individual needs and goals. If you’re dealing with mental health challenges like anxiety, depression or trauma, seeking out professional help from a therapist may be more beneficial in addressing these problems and developing strategies to manage symptoms.
Conversely, if you are seeking to make major life changes such as starting a new career or improving relationships, life coaches may be more helpful in reaching these goals.
It's essential to note that life coaches and therapists are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Depending on your unique life situation, you may benefit from working with both types of approach. For example, if anxiety is an issue for you and you want to improve your career prospects, the therapist could manage symptoms while the life coach creates strategies for success in the workplace.
Selecting a Professional
When selecting a life coach or therapist for your individual needs, make sure they have extensive training and certification in their fields as well as an impressive record of success working with clients who share similar goal or difficulties.
Schedule a consultation and let's see if therapy is the right fit for you.