Do I Need a Life Coach or a Psychotherapist?

“Do I need a life coach or psychotherapist” is question that I hear often. As a licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, people always ask me the difference between my two roles. People are always curious about what I do and they also want to know how to discern what they need. Basically, they want to know if their problem is coachable or therapeutic? Let’s dive into how we work through this dilemma.

FAQs for coaches and therapists

I want to address frequently asked questions about the differences between psychotherapy and life coaching. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse these two professions and to be sure, similarities do exist. However, these professions are not interchangeable. These waters can become even murkier as many counselors, like me, are practicing as both licensed counselors and life coaches. However, when you hire a coach with a Masters in Counseling, like me, you can rest assured that the foundation of our work together is rooted in my innate understanding of the human psyche.

either way, hire a professional

It is important to note that as a potential client, you are not expected to know exactly what you need. As a trained professional, I am here to guide you to the right service based on your needs, capabilities, and desires. That is where my expertise comes in. In any event, it’s still important to be an informed consumer so I have laid out these simple bullet points to help guide you through the decision making process.

Differences between counseling and life coaching

life coaching is:

  • focuses on the agenda set by the client
  • action-oriented and results-driven
  • takes place in the here and now, not in the past
  • assumes that you are resilient, strong, capable and healthy
  • focuses on aligning your strengths with your stated goals
  • knows that you are the expert of your own life purpose
  • collaborative process
  • credentialed in many different ways by many governing bodies, therefore, coaching is, some-what, self-regulated.
  • available by phone, video or in-person across the USA or worldwide

while therapy is:

  • process-oriented
  • focuses on emotions, behaviors and thoughts and the root of these feelings
  • helps the client relate current situations to past traumas or learned experiences
  • assesses for and diagnoses mental health disorders
  • provides treatment for mental health disorders
  • therapists are trained at the Masters Level and are required to be licensed by their state in almost every state in the USA. Each state has its own regulation and requirements, all are rigorous to ensure client safety
  • considered “medically necessary”, is covered by health insurance and is governed by the laws of HIPAA
  • can only take place in the states where the psychotherapist is licensed
  • the therapist is often considered the expert within the relationship

Similarities between counseling and coaching

  • Both professions require specialized training, certifications, course work, internships, and in-vivo field practice
  • Both professions have the same inherent goal of assisting clients create fulfilling lives
  • Both coaches and therapists are highly trained, empathetic, and intelligent
  • Both professions recognize and honor that each person is different and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ recipe for healing and success
  • Both professions adhere to ethical guidelines which foster safety within the relationship

ask questions before signing an agreement

The job of the coach is to help you, the client, understand these differences so that you choose the appropriate service for your needs. As the consumer, you are entitled to understand what coaching is, and is not so that you can knowledgeably enter the coaching contract. In traditional psychotherapy, we would make this part of the informed consent process. A thorough initial phone call or video call should include: establishing rapport, assessing your readiness for coaching and explaining the limitations of coaching.

how can I help you?

It’s my belief that both coaching and therapy are vital and helpful services for many people. There is no ‘better’ or ‘less than’ helping profession. It is actually this diversity that allows us to have access to the services we need most at a particular time in life.

If you would like to explore the possibility of life coaching or counseling with me, please set up an appointment here. I provide mental health therapy in the state of Maryland only and you can find out more about my counseling philosophy here.

Carrie Mead, MS is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com

“Just as the boat is guided to shore by careful planning, following the map and visualizing the light house, we too must have these tools to reach our goals. Without preparation, planning and a vision of the future we are just afloat in the sea at the mercy of the winds”

Carrie Mead, MS
Curiosity Life Coaching

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.