What's the Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist? | Inspired by Kathryn

What’s the Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist?

When we’re faced with difficult times in our lives, it’s normal to turn to others for guidance and support. Whether it’s a period of transition, a static point in life, or a challenging new obstacle in our path, we all need trusted people to help us along the way. Although friends, family, or partners can often help us through these challenging times, there comes a time when objectivity and accountability are crucial. Without getting a proper outside look on your situation, you won’t be able to truly see it for what it is. There are many ways people get this support and perspective, and no two seem to be as frequently confused as life coaching and therapy.

What is therapy?

Therapy (also known as counseling) refers to the practice of a certified healthcare professional assisting a person with overcoming negative habits, beliefs, and behaviors, with the ultimate goal of providing them a stable and happy life. It’s a long-term process that aims to give people introspection and sensitivity to the emotions of themselves and others.

What is life coaching?

On the other hand, life coaching centers around the relationship between a client and their coach. Coaches are experienced professionals specialized in helping people navigate their lives. Life coaching focuses on practical goals and milestones, formulating plans to achieve them, and overcoming obstacles of all kinds along the way. The actions taken as a result of life coaching are more tangible and objective-oriented than in counseling or therapy, providing people with the means to achieve whatever goals they see fit.

Similarities and differences

Life coaching and therapy overlap in some areas, and this has led to some confusion for those wondering if there’s any difference between them at all. In reality, the two fields are quite distinct, with a few very big differences:

  • Life coaches work in the present. Where therapy often looks backward at history, trauma, and past experience to help people understand why they behave a certain way, life coaches operate in a more present and forward-looking manner. With that said, some life coaches also help you tap into your past in order to help you understand the present. 
  • Life coaches get beneath the surface level. Rather than focusing only on what you’re doing and what you should consider doing instead, life coaching goes deeper. Life coaches ask why you do the things you do and help you understand where your reactions, beliefs, and behaviours are coming from. This insight into yourself is part of the holistic viewpoint a life coach gives you.
  • Life coaching has a clear endpoint in mind. Life coaches often work on the basis of goals and strategies. Anything is possible; you have to break up the journey of getting there a little. Therapy tends to work with the end goal of ‘better mental health,’ which is valuable but difficult to identify. Our idea of good mental health often shifts, and we continue to strive for it. Life coaches set clear, tangible goals—ones that are impossible to miss once you achieve them. Life coaching is about action: planning, execution, and finally, results.
  • Life coaching often has a very different structure from therapy. Therapy tends to have a freeform structure, with sessions often guided by the client along with a helping hand from their therapist. While this is the usual structure of a therapy session, there is often a stronger shape to life coaching sessions. The best coaches always adapt their sessions according to their clients, making them as organic or as structured as they need to be. 

Although life coaching and therapy are very different in many ways, they do share some similarities:

  • Both aim to provide someone with a better life. Despite differences in the route to get there, and perhaps someone’s personal definition of a ‘better life,’ both counselling and life coaching strive to open doors to the life you’ve always wanted.
  • Both help people to become more positive. In both life coaching and counselling, positivity is an indispensable skill. 
  • Both have the power to create meaningful change in someone’s life. Because of the differences between therapy and life coaching, what this change looks like can vary greatly. One is not a replacement for another, and different situations call for a different approach. Also, many people opt to work with both life coaches and therapists, which can be a holistic and effective approach to overcoming obstacles. 

Knowing when to choose one over the other

As you can see, life coaching and therapy offer two very distinct solutions to two very distinct challenges. Therapy helps us to gain a deeper insight on our minds, which allows us to understand why we behave, think, and react the way we do. Therapy is often a long-term commitment, where a client might work with their professional for months, years, or perhaps indefinitely.

Life coaching, on the other hand, allows us to gain a bird’s eye view of our entire lives. We can understand who we are through the actions we take, and harness that same knowledge to lead us on the most efficient route to our ultimate goals. Business, relationships, and your personal life are all on the table with your life coach, and this holistic guidance is unlike anything else. Life coaching focuses on a clear endpoint, and ultimately brings someone to the point where they can coach themselves. It helps us when we’re stuck, and gives us a set of clear and tangible goals that allow us to live our best lives.

With years of experience in both life coaching and business under my belt, I can help you be exactly the person you’ve always wanted to be. As a spiritual life coach, I go beyond the usual question of what you’re doing, helping people understand who they are, and why they’re doing it. I offer a highly specialized coaching service with many other specialties included, such as ancestral clearing and mediumship. I’ve helped countless people on their one-of-a-kind journeys of growth, success, and self-discovery. If you’re still wondering about how a life coach can help you achieve your goals and overcome your obstacles, contact me today.

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If you’re eager to start becoming the person you want to be, there’s no better time than now.