Life-coaching is something I only became aware of recently, within the past couple of years. I’ve seen therapists before, and the idea of a life-coach both intrigued and confused me. Are life coaches just therapists that specialize in helping you reach your business goals? Are they supposed to help you lose weight? Can anyone be a life coach?
I dug deeper and discovered several important differences between the two. I firmly believe both therapy and life-coaching are beneficial and important, and while they are linked in that they try to help an individual overcome a hurdle in their lives, the approach and end-goals are very different, as is the professional background.
Therapists go through extensive training and professional education on a variety of mental illnesses and ailments. They study different ways to understand these ailments, how to treat them, what techniques to use, how to best help their clients, etc. These are professionals. Not just anyone can call themselves a therapist or open a therapy practice. You need the proper training.
Life-coaches, to the best of my understanding, can become life-coaches with zero professional training. While this may shock you at first, you have to understand that life coaches play a very different role than therapists and that while some do receive training and certification, these are not essential to a coach doing their job effectively.
Therapists are trained to assist with major mental ailments, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, trauma, self-harm, postpartum, PTSD, etc. Because of the sensitive nature of what they are dealing with, they must receive proper and extensive training and supervision as they expand their skill-set.
Life-coaches, on the other hand, are mentors who will help you move toward something you want in your life. They help you deal with fears and resistance, set up goals, and follow a plan to reach your goal, whether that be starting your own business, creating a better daily routine, or growing your relationship. The people they deal with are generally those who are in a safe place in their life but still feel stuck or as if they don’t know how to get to where they want to go. These are not people dealing with majorly debilitating or life-and-death scenarios.
While you may feel more comfortable investing in a coach if they have certification or experience, there are coaches who may be self-taught or have discovered a knack for helping others push through their obstacles to achieve their goals. However, even if you have a knack for helping others manage their mental ailments, because of the risks of treating something like severe depression improperly, extensive training is required for therapists.
Hopefully that clears up some of the differences between the two! Therapists help you get to a safe space in your life, where you find yourself upon more neutral ground and gain the skills to deal with mental ailments, whereas life-coaches help you move forward toward something you want once you already have a firm basis beneath you. There are always exceptions to the rule (therapists who help you move forward and life-coaches who help those with severe depression), but this is my general understanding of what therapists and life-coaches are designed to do.
What About You?: Have you ever worked with a therapist or life-coach? Comment below with your insights and tips!
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