Do I need a life coach or a therapist?

As a psychotherapist and life coach, people always ask me the difference between my two roles. People are always curious about what I do. They are also want to know how to discern what they need. Basically, is their problem coachable or therapeutic in nature?

So, with this blog, 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.

It’s 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 coaching

  • Coaching sessions are focused on the agenda set by the client
  • Coaching is action-oriented and results-driven
  • Coaching takes place in the here and now, not in the past
  • Coaching assumes that you are resilient, strong, capable and healthy
  • Coaching focuses on aligning your strengths with your stated goals
  • Coaching assumes that you are the expert of your own life purpose
  • Coaching is a collaborative process
  • Coaching is credentialed in many different ways by many governing bodies but in reality, no certification or credential is required to call oneself a coach
  • Coaching can take place by phone, video or in-person across the USA or worldwide

VS

  • Therapy is process-oriented
  • Therapy focuses on emotions, behaviors and thoughts and the root of these feelings
  • Therapy helps the client relate current situations to past traumas or learned experiences
  • Therapy assesses for and diagnoses mental health disorders
  • Therapy 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
  • Therapy is often considered “medically necessary” and is covered by health insurance
  • Therapy is a medical model which is governed by the laws of HIPAA
  • Therapy can only take place in person or by secure video; most therapy laws prohibit the use of many technologies
  • The therapist is often considered the expert within the relationship
  • The practice of therapy or counseling is regulated by the state board in each state across the USA. A therapist may only practice or do counseling with a client who is located in the state in which the therapist is licensed.

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

It’s the job of the coach 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.

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’s 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 http://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

Curiosity Life Coaching

Carrie Mead, MS
Transitions Life Coach
Curiosity Life Coaching

As a psychotherapist and life coach, people always ask me the difference between my two roles. People are always curious about what I do. They are also want to know how to discern what they need. Basically, is their problem coachable or therapeutic in nature?

So, with this blog, 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 a 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…

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The benefits of hiring a professional life coach

We all go through periods of time when we could benefit from some wise, objective, and thoughtful support to reach our goals.  Friends and family can be great for offering advice, but life coaching isn’t about advice-giving.  Life coaching is about empowering you to identify your desires, set your intentions and then, of course, achieve your goals.  

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a working mother, a college student, a highly respected expert in your professional arena or just starting your adult life, life coaching can be beneficial to your personal and professional development.  Although many niches exist within the realm of life coaching, all coaches have one common goal and that is to help you, the client, set and achieve your goals.  This is why I feel so strongly that everyone can benefit from professional life coaching.   

Maybe as you read this, it occurs to you that you don’t have a clear goal or sense of direction for your life.  What a great realization!  Life coaching can assist you in getting clear on your values, your purpose and your passions. Through this process, undoubtably, goals will arise and hopefully excitement will arise about the possibilities for your future.

If your interest is piqued, here are some brief exercises of self-discovery to help you hone into the aspects of your life that are flowing in the right direction and where you need to direct extra attention. Make time for yourself to sit quietly and thoughtfully with the questions below. Have some materials nearby for taking notes; I prefer pen and paper, but you may prefer taking notes on a computer or dictating thoughts into your phone. No matter the method, it’s important to take notes! 

Do not rush the process, self- discovery and intentional inquiry take time. These exercises are designed to get you off auto-pilot and back into your present life. If you enter this exercise with an open and curious mind, you will have a lot of fun and discover something unknown about yourself.  

  1. When is the last time you experienced overwhelming joy? What were you doing? Who were you with? What surprised you by your joyous reaction? Describe this time in detail in your notes and replay it in your mind as if it were happening now.  Engage your five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste as you recall this memory?  What stands out about this memory or experience?
  • How and when do you know when you are in the flow of life?  What are the signals you receive internally (i.e. sensations in your body, physical health, dreams or thoughts in your mind) and externally (i.e. how do you engage with others and how do they respond to you)? How can you create more of this in your life? Is there a specific action, thought or way of being that might help you create this experience again, no matter what’s going on around you?
  • Reflect on just one major area of your life such as your profession, your finances, your romantic relationship or your spiritual practice.  Is this area of your life as fulfilling and abundant as you want it to be? Are you dedicating time and energy to this area?  If so, how?  Be specific. Does this area of your life bring you joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment? Or does this area leave you with a sense of dread, regret or fear?  Are you possibly ignoring this area of your life simply because you don’t how to move forward or are you over-focused on this successful area of life while ignoring less appealing aspects of your life? Be honest with yourself. Describe your thoughts, feelings and intentions around this subject.  At a later time, you can repeat this exercise with another focus.

As you have worked through these teachings, reflect on what you have learned.  Have common themes or patterns arisen? If so, are these patterns facilitating your growth or impeding you?  Reflection is a process, so pay attention to what arises for your in the coming days and weeks as you continue to think through these self-discovery lessons.  

The experience of receiving life coaching is a way to discover unknown aspects (aka, Shadow work) of ourselves, and, perhaps most importantly, make changes in our lives so that we are truly living the life we desire.  Without action steps, the self-discovery is somewhat inefficient. What good is it to understand all aspects of ourselves- known and unknown; light and dark; positive and negative- but then do nothing to make adjustments accordingly? Taking action and bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is a key component of life coaching. With this in mind, a professionally trained life coach will assist you in creating and executing a strategy for your life.

Again, the benefits of creating the plan or new years resolution without follow-through are quite limited.  I believe all of us have had ‘great plans’ that never materialized. This is a common human experience. With a life coach by your side, you are sure to take to those action steps. Think of your life coach as your accountability partner.  This means that as you create your plans and make commitments to the steps of your plan, your coach will hold you responsible for taking the steps. That doesn’t mean you must complete each step exactly as planned, but it does mean that you will explore, adjust and refocus if you find you are unable or unwilling to stay on task.  This is a fundamental part of the process of coaching. And, all the while, you are supported by your coach.

Are you intrigued? Do you want to know more? Are you ready to get started? Set-up a free consultation by clicking here.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have or to offer you a free phone consultation to assess if I would be the right professional life coach for you.   As with all healing professions, not every coach is right for every client nor is every client right for every coach.   This free consultation will help us find out if we’re a good fit for one another. I look forward to hearing from you when the time is right.

You can reach me,  Carrie C. Mead, by email at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook @curiositylifecoaching, Instagram @curiositylifecoachandreiki or the web at: www.curiositylifecoaching.com.

Carrie Mead, MS
Curiosity Life Coaching
Baltimore, MD