Two of the most common questions that I get are: ‘What do you really do as a Life Coach?’and, ‘How do I know if I need to hire a coach or a therapist?’
In today’s blog post, I’m going to explain the differences between life coaching and psychotherapy. I’m also going to give you some tips on how to find your perfect fit, no matter what type of help you decide to seek out.
First, let’s make something clear: there’s a misconception that a life coach knows—and advises their clients on—everything there is to be known about life. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
What we, life coaches, actually do, is to help our clients get clarity in different areas of their lives, and develop a step-by-step plan to achieve their goals.
We’re not know-it-alls, but we have the tools to guide you through a difficult or uncertain area of your
If you want to listen to the audio version of this blog post, here it is:
What’s the Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist?
“In life coaching, a client works with a coach to clarify goals and identify obstacles and problematic behaviors in order to create action plans to achieve desired results.”
Coaching focuses on the tools and behaviors for achieving outcomes in the present and the future. Unlike coaching, therapy focuses on healing the traumas from your past, which are preventing you from functioning in the present in the first place.
Therapists analyze their client’s past as a tool for understanding present behaviors, whereas life coaches simply identify and describe current problematic behaviors so that the client can take action to change them.
So, in a nutshell, it’s all about the severity of the problem: if you want to achieve a certain goal and don’t know what’s been holding you back, it’s best to hire a coach, who will help you clarify your obstacles and set an action plan to overcome them.
But if you want to understand why you have a severe fear of abandonment and can’t sustain a relationship, for example, my best advice is to go for a therapist.
While a coach can help you have better communication in your relationship, develop a deeper and more meaningful connection with your partner, a therapist will give you an insight on why you communicate the way that you do and choose the partners that you choose, which often has something to do with your early childhood and reexperiencing the traumas.
There’s also the third type (a coach/therapist): a person who has a degree in psychology but is also a certified life coaching professional. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds. These professionals often operate in the business world and help executives work through their traumas, change their behaviors, and learn to coach their direct reports.
When I began my coaching practice, I quickly became interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and looked into ways to become a certified CBT practitioner to have even better skills to my clients.
Now, the question is:
Do You Need a Life Coach?
And the answer is: only you know. I’m not here to tell you that you should find a life coach immediately. I’m not going to tell you that it’s going to change your life. You know why? Because it’s entirely up to you.
You may hire the best coach in the world and still achieve almost nothing. Why? Because becoming a client is also a responsibility. You become aware of your repeating behaviors, it can be uncomfortable at times, and extremely challenging to face the obstacles that have always prevented you from achieving your goals. But the great news is that once you start seeing progress, you can never go back to being stuck.
That’s how great life coaching was, at least for me. I’ve been coached by one of the best life coaches I know and I can tell you that it makes all the difference in the world when somebody tells you to get off your butt and start working towards your goals instead of giving in to your fears.
And one more tip: before you decide whether or not to hire a coach, please do your research. Don’t hire someone just because they have lots of followers or you’ve read their book that was probably written by a ghost writer. Schedule a free session and talk to the person. See what they’re like. Feel their presence. And decide for yourself if they’re a good fit.
There’s a life coach for everyone, don’t worry. You just have to find yours.