When you need help solving complex problems in your life, you turn to those who are considered to be “experts”. In this case, that may mean working with either a therapist or perhaps a life coach, which is an option gaining in popularity with more and more people. While working with either of these will be similar in many ways, there are distinct differences between a therapist and a life coach.
Licensing and Credentials
To begin with, major differences exist in terms of credentials and licensing. A life coach may have a college university degree in psychology or counselling and have many years of experience working with clients but is not a qualified therapist. On the other hand, a therapist is required in most cases to not only possess graduate-level training, but also be properly licensed where they practice.
Past or Future
When you work with a therapist, the focus usually is on past traumas that are impacting your current life, such as being abused when you were a child. But when you work with a life coach, these sessions often pinpoint specific problems that are happening right now that are impeding your ability to move forward. For example, you may work with a life coach to discover a new type of career you would find more fulfilling.
Long-Term or Short-Term
When most people begin visiting a therapist, they may continue to do so for many years, or in some cases forever. However, personal life coaching is more of a short-term commitment. In fact, the goal of the life coach is to give you the tools and skills needed to eventually coach yourself, but some therapies also aim to do this too.
Structured or Unstructured
While you may have thought therapy sessions are very structured, they are typically quite the opposite. In fact, therapy sessions are guided by the patient and the type of therapy is used to treat them. While a personal life coaching session has the coach, and you, working on developing goal-oriented strategies that let you experience personal and even professional growth along the way.
In conclusion, depending on your situation, it is always possible you may at some point in your life work with both a therapist and life coach. Whether you have sessions with a therapist to work through unresolved childhood trauma or seek out a life coach to help you achieve a better balance between your personal and professional lives, you will soon learn why these professionals and their services are so valuable to clients.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio.