Many people often ask me to explain the difference between life coaching and therapy. I’ve put together a blog post that should answer this question, as well as help you identify which option is right for you.
As well as being a qualified life coach, I’m also an experienced psychodynamic counsellor. With this knowledge of both life coaching and therapy, I believe I’m well equipped to help you understand. the main differences between the two.
Before I start, however, it’s important to note that there are many different types of therapy and many approaches to life coaching. Therefore, I’ll attempt to lay out the differences between therapy and life coaching in a general sense. If you still have questions when you’ve finished reading this blog post, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for an informal chat about which option is best for you.
Coaching helps you to look ahead
Generally speaking, therapy focuses on the past and is about listening and being reflective. Coaching, on the other hand, is present and future-orientated. Rather than reflecting, the focus is on taking action. If you’re at a crossroads in your life, or you have some big changes you want to implement, coaching could be the right option for you.
My aim, as a life coach, is to give you the tools you need to help you become your true, authentic self. The coaching journey is designed to bring about awareness; once you are aware, you can start to make positive changes.
Therapy and life coaching each serve different needs
People will usually turn to therapy for help with mental health concerns, or during times of grief and distress. For those struggling with their mental health, therapy is typically the chosen option. If you don’t have any particular mental health concerns, but rather you feel like you need some help getting your life on track or coping with a difficult situation (for example, the breakdown of an important relationship), life coaching might be a good route to explore.
This isn’t set in stone, however. For example, someone who is mentally well may still choose therapy to help them cope with what life is throwing at them. There is no “one-size-fits-all” method when it comes to choosing the right approach. That’s why I offer a free, 20-minute introductory session, so that I can get to know you and better understand your aims and priorities.
If at any point during your coaching journey, it seems like you would benefit from going down a more therapeutic route, I will be more than happy to explore this with you. As a trained psychodynamic counsellor, I can offer you the flexibility of taking a different approach should you require it.
Life coaching builds a different relationship
The relationship between coach and client is somewhat different from the relationship you might develop with a therapist. Though life coaches are still bound by a strict code of ethics that ensures confidentiality is maintained at all times, the relationship is often less formal than what you might expect to cultivate with your therapist. Life coaching can often seem like more of a chatty, two-way conversation, which some can find more approachable than the therapy experience.
While a therapist will typically avoid giving advice (focusing instead on asking questions designed to encourage you to open up, or giving you exercises that challenge your negative beliefs), a life coach will offer gentle guidance and suggest different ways you can work towards achieving your goals.
Choosing between therapy and life coaching is a deeply personal decision that depends on many factors. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is take the time to do your research, speak to loved ones, and reach out to trained professionals with any queries you might have.
I’ve worked with many people who, at the start of their journey, knew very little about life coaching. All they had was a desire to make positive changes. I’m always more than happy to answer any questions you might have, to help you decide whether life coaching is right for you.