Coaching Versus Therapy

I consider myself both a Therapist and a Life Coach… so you might be wondering ‘what’s the difference?’ good question and one that is hotly debated with many different perspectives offered depending on who you ask.

My answer to the question ‘what’s the difference?’ especially as it pertains to how I work in particular is ‘not a lot but there are a few’! Let me explain…

Whether I am wearing my therapist hat or my coaching hat I am primarily concerned with growth, movement and change and helping the client reach their potential for joy and fulfillment in life.  The skills I utilize and my underlying philosophy are the same regardless of what service I am providing. Here are some of the key differences:

Therapy is often a longer term process than coaching that is more deeply rooted in past events, however the theories I gravitate to are mindfulness based approaches which deal heavily in terms of  ‘here and now’.  This is certainly one of those very general rules as I have worked with some coaching clients over many many months and some therapy clients achieved their purpose after only a few sessions.

One critical difference is that therapy can include the treatment of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, eating disorders etc. where a life coaching process does not. People who are looking to resolve a more serious psychological or emotional pattern of dysfunction are definitely better suited to a therapy room and yet not all people seeking therapy need to come with a mental health issue. For some, therapy is a way to uncover deeply rooted patterns so that they can move their life in the directions that align with their true Selves. I encourage everyone to engage in a therapy process as all of us grow and actualize only through doing the ‘inner work’.

Another difference between the two roles, probably the most clear cut difference, is the theoretical lens that the process is based on. Therapy is built on a deep theoretical foundation from the research in the field of psychology. Life Coaching,  a newer field that draws on business, management, human resources and psychology principals. That is likely why being both a Life Coach and a Therapist suits me so well as it incorporates both my backgrounds and interest in psychology/spirituality and in management and strategic planning.

So there you have it, my attempt to lend my perspective to a bit of a murky topic. Regardless if you come through my therapy door or my coaching door I see any opportunity to journey with another being and co-create a path to a happier and more fulfilling life as a huge and humbling honor and I am thrilled to be lucky enough to get to do this amazing work.

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