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.
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, LCPC
Curiosity Life Coaching