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Life Coach VS Therapist: What’s The Difference?

by Jerald Dyson
life coach vs therapist

Life Coach VS Therapist: One of the most common myths or misconceptions about coaching is that it is therapy in disguise. Well, if you think life coaching is the same as therapy, you cannot be more wrong. Life coaching is genuinely its own distinctive service created to help people achieve some specific goals that will bring fulfillment and success into their life.  

In this article, we will thoroughly explain the difference between life coaching and therapy. 

Defining Terms: Life Coach VS Therapist 

To understand the difference between a life coach and a therapist, it’s essential for you to know the definitions of each term.  

What Is A Life Coach? 

A life coach is a professional who can help you achieve your full potential that helps to improve your life. This professional targets your unique skills to attain specific goals in life. For instance, if you are trying to quit smoking, a life coach will create a plan and help you quit smoking. Remember that a life coach is not a healthcare professional. 

life coach vs therapist

In short, a life coach only identifies problematic behaviors, obstacles and clarifies goals in order to build an action plan to attain desired results.  

What Is A Therapist? 

Unlike life coaches, therapists are trained, educated, and certified healthcare professionals. Therapy, also known as psychotherapy or counseling, is a process in which a person partners with a professional to resolve and diagnose problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, physical responses, and relationship issues.  

In short, the main focus of a therapist is on the past and on analysis and introspection, with the hope of creating a more stable and happier future and resolving the past issues and traumas. 

Difference Between A Life Coach Vs Therapist 

Now that you know “what is a life coach?” and “what is a therapist?”. It’s time to understand the difference between the two terms. Remember that understanding the difference between a life coach and a therapist is important to help you decide who might be more suited to help you along your journey. 

Here are some key differences between a life coach and a therapist.

Services 

One of the most important distinguishing factors between life coaches and therapists is their services. Compared to life coaches, therapists face more restrictions in terms of how and where they can offer their services. For instance, therapists must be licensed to offer their services, while you don’t have to be a certified life coach in order to practice as a coach.  

Generally, a therapist offers his/her services face-to-face in an office for better understanding, while most of the coaches available out their work online via the internet or over the phone. In addition, a therapist must follow some ethical rules and regulations, such as the rule of confidentiality, while coaches are not legally bound to follow these ethical rules.  

Accreditation 

To legally provide therapy, one must have a state license and advanced degree. In addition, to get your license to practice therapy, you need to meet a certain criterion, including a specific number of supervised hours of practice and an exam. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a certified life coach to work as a professional success or life coach. Despite a lack of certifications, many coaches provide tremendous services and help a lot of clients improve their lives.  

Difference Of Payments 

Coaching is not related to the treatment of illness. Therefore, this field is not covered by health insurance. Instead, you have to pay life coaches according to their per session cost. On average, a life coach can charge between $274 to $1000 per session and can also offer some VIP sessions to earn more money. 

On the other hand, because therapy is often related to the treatment of mental health disorders, such as traumas, your insurance company may cover your expenses if the company finds the therapy medically essential to help you get better or you meet the certain criteria for a mental disorder. 

life coach vs therapist

Past, Present, And Future 

Generally speaking, therapists are more focused on events that happened in the past and try to overcome your traumas in the present. While coaching is all about helping you attain your future goal. That being said, a highly-educated therapist can help you attain your future goal, and a coach can aid you in comprehending how your past contributes to your present. 

Healthcare Professionals 

The main difference between a life coach and a therapist is that therapists are trained healthcare professionals who treat people with mental illness while coaches are not. So if you are seeking help related to mental health disorders, such as depression, trauma, or anxiety, a therapist is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want to live a better and desired life, a life coach is what you need.  

Duration 

Whereas coaching is generally short-term, therapy is considered a long-term process. This is because, in therapy, therapists need to connect with their clients deeply. Therefore, these sessions can continue for weeks, months, and even years in an ongoing fashion. A therapist tries to heal mental health illnesses, which can take a lot of time.  

On the other hand, coaching is ofter a short-term process. This field is about achieving a specific goal, which means once the client achieves that specific goal, there is no need for a life coach anymore. Normally, coaches offer their services in packages, from six to ten weeks. These packages are varied but are more commonly short-term. 

Life Coach vs Therapist: When To Hire A Therapist Or Life Coach

The decision to seek a therapist or life coach is quite a personal one. Think of it as climbing a mountain; you can hire a doctor or a professional Sherpa and guide. Which one will be the best for your journey? If you are in physical danger, a guide or Sherpa won’t do you any good. On the other hand, if you are healthy and just need some instructions about climbing a mountain, hiring a doctor does not make any sense. 

Following are some scenarios/approaches where you can seek a therapist or a life coach: 

The Therapist Approach 

The therapists are usually focused on your past and present. Generally, a client comes to them seeking assistance with treating mental illness, addiction, overcoming abuse, and healing trauma. Here are a few ways a therapist can help you: 

  • Cope with relationship violence, abuse, or turmoil 
  • Treat substance abuse or addiction 
  • Help evaluate your subconscious or unconscious mind 
  • Help with traumatic loss 
  • Cope with your past trauma 
  • Treat clinical depression and anxiety and mental illness 
  • Understand triggers and patterns for self-destruction behaviors. 

The Life Coach Approach: Life Coach vs Therapist

Normally, life coaches are more present and future-focused. They can help their clients in areas of life that overlap with the focus of a therapist, but they usually help you: 

  • Achieve full potential 
  • Learn new skills 
  • Increase motivation 
  • Adapt to life changes 
  • Measure the results and take real action 
  • Set, identify, and attain goals 
  • Get unbiased advice 
  • Increase your self-esteem 
  • Balance your work and social life 
  • Create action plans to adapt positive changes 
life coach vs therapist

Similarities Between A Life Coach And A Therapist 

Even though the answer to “what is a life coach?” is quite different from “what is a therapist?” there are a few similarities between both professionals, such as, both professionals: 

  • Improve your life 
  • Make positive changes 
  • Make you more productive 
  • Use cognitive-behavioral therapy 
  • Increase well-being  

Regardless of these little similarities, therapy and life coaching are two distant fields. Both fields have a separate working procedure and cannot be considered as same. 

Conclusion 

Life coach vs therapist: Generally, when seeking professional help for personal growth and emotional well-being, most people think of a therapist. However, nowadays, you may have heard about working with a life coach. Most people confuse life coaches with therapists, but in reality, these two fields are quite different. One works with the past and present while the other focuses on the present and the future. 

You can understand the difference between a life coach and a therapist by observing their work lives. For instance, a therapist is a healthcare professional, while a life coach is not. In addition, a therapist must have an advanced degree and a license to practice, while there are several certified and non-certified life coaches working all around the globe. 

A Therapist Can Help You: 

  • Cope with relationship violence, abuse, or turmoil 
  • Treat substance abuse or addiction 
  • Help evaluate your subconscious or unconscious mind 
  • Help with traumatic loss 
  • Cope with your past trauma 
  • Treat clinical depression and anxiety and mental illness 
  • Understand triggers and patterns for self-destruction behaviors. 
life coach vs therapist

On the other hand, you seek a life coach when you need: 

  • Achieve full potential 
  • Learn new skills 
  • Increase motivation 
  • Adapt to life changes 
  • Measure the results and take real action 
  • Set, identify, and attain goals 
  • Get unbiased advice 
  • Increase your self-esteem 
  • Balance your work and social life 
  • Create action plans to adapt positive changes 

Life coach vs therapist: We hope this article helped you in understanding the difference between a life coach and a therapist so that you can seek a professional according to your needs. 

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