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Life Coach Vs Therapist

by | May 13, 2021 | Life Coaching

If you’re seeking professional help for your wellbeing or self-growth, you might find yourself asking: what’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist? Knowing the subtle and obvious discrepancies between the two may be crucial to receiving the proper help you need from an appropriate professional.

In this post we’ll cover:

  • What’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist?
  • How is a life coach different from a therapist?
  • Can a therapist also be a life coach?
  • Can life coaches accept insurance?
  • What does a life coach do exactly?

What’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist?

The Generic Answer:

Therapists are licensed mental health professionals trained specifically to provide treatment and rehabilitation to clients who want to improve their cognitive and emotional skills and curtail mental illness. Coaches are geared toward helping individuals figure out what is important to them and supporting them to make difficult changes to achieve specific goals.

The Complicated Answer:

 Therapy and coaching are not a one-size fit all treatment. Over 200 distinctive schools of therapy exist from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Attachment Theory; each featuring a unique perspective in supporting the development of mental health in clients. Correspondingly, there is a comparably diverse number of coaching schools with various focuses that range from communication training to personal accountability.

Coaching and therapy are such vast fields, it’s not uncommon for therapists to dip into the coaching realm to design a more personalized approach for their clients and vice versa. More often now, therapists get trained in coaching and coaches trained in psychology because therapy and coaching complement each other.

How is a life coach different from a therapist?

Life coaches primarily focus on helping one pursue their passions or break out of a period of stagnation. Life coaches provide an accountability partnership by designing a blueprint with a client toward a specific goal. Life coaches will not diagnose people they work with illnesses to be clinically treated. 

On the other hand, therapists specialize in treating mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Therapists principally aim to address mental health challenges by providing techniques such as cognitive reframing and mindfulness skills.

Can a therapist also be a life coach?

Therapists may blend life coaching skills into a session but are chiefly trained professionals that treat mental health conditions.  Although therapists can act as life coaches, life coaches cannot claim to be therapists as treating mental disorders is not within the scope of their practice. The biggest difference between therapy and coaching is the objective. Therapists focus on mental health and emotional healing, while life coaches focus on setting and achieving goals.

Can life coaches accept insurance?

Unfortunately, most health insurance plans do not cover coaching. Life coaching is not considered a mental health profession as therapists and counselors are and not regulated by the state.

What does a life coach do exactly?

A life coach will typically support you in uncovering your passions and facilitating your growth toward the goals you set with them. A life coach will strategize with you on identifying your life vision and create an action plan to help you reach your peak performance. 

Whether it’s identifying obstacles or problematic behaviors preventing one from achieving the desired result or creating action based masterplan from the ground up, a life coach can guide both your personal and professional life. 

It all boils down to the type of support you need. If you struggle with deep-rooted mental health issues, you should work with a therapist. However, if you find your career plateauing and you’re looking for a change in your personal or professional life, working with a life coach is for you. 

Check out this visual guide to graphically see the differences between a coach and a therapist

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