“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.
Have you ever had a difficult time making a decision? Perhaps you have rushed into a decision and then regretted it either instantly or months later. Maybe you are so indecisive that decisions simply never get made and you are left feeling stuck in your situation. Maybe you have made decisions that were in direct conflict with your long-term goals or vision for your life. With the countless decisions you have made in your life, have you ever stopped and wondered how these past decisions have impacted the trajectory of your life?
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 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 this 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 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
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 treatement 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 their own regulation and reqirements, all are rigourous 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 trainings, 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 which 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 counselling 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.
“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”