What Is The Difference Between Therapy/Counseling And Life Coaching?
To help you understand what happens in a session, you need to know the difference between therapy or counseling and life coaching…
While there are some areas of overlap between therapy and coaching, there are some distinct differences in the relationship and how the work unfolds.
People seek therapy to heal emotional wounds and work through unresolved issues.
Often they feel like they are nonfunctioning, because of depression, acute anxiety or not having dealt with past trauma.
Therapy is designed to get the person to the point where they can function in their life again.
Past vs Future Focus
Life coaching, on the other hand, focuses more on the present and moving you forward in your life. Coaching is driven by your desire for change and achieving a set of goals.
Therapy is much more about “Why? Why me? Why this circumstance? Why this timing?” by taking an intensive look at family dynamics, traumas, emotional/psychological wounds and history to explain behavior. Then interventions or treatments are determined.
In coaching, I want to know “why?” to better understand the narrative of your life and the reasons you’re doing what you are doing right now.
I’m more interested in the answers to, “What is it about your life right now that is lacking or needs to be changed? What do you want next? And how are you going to make that happen?”
Partnership vs Expert
Life coaching encourages self-discovery and is more of a partnership. We work designing your life instead of the “coach as expert” where I would dispense interventions or treatments.
Coaching is about creating changes; increasing satisfaction and creating work/life balance.
The aim is to take you to the highest levels of performance and life satisfaction by eliminating any “blocks” or “limitations” that are holding you back.
Coaching is more appropriate for someone who is already functioning and wants to take their life to the next level. Life coaches do not diagnose.
Therapists determine illnesses and pathologies, so people can be clinically treated.
Therapists analyze their client’s past to help them understand their present behaviors.
Life coaches simply identify current problematic behaviors, so the client can work to modify them.
A therapist focuses their conversations on ways to recover from past traumas; explore why past relationships have been destructive; work through depression or anxiety that affects people’s ability to function at home or work; survive a divorce or loss of a loved one.
That being said I have worked and spent hundreds of hours with clients who have suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. I personally have gone through a lot of that myself and I have found coaching has been the most effective way for me to move on beyond it.
Essentially coaching assumes that you as the client are generally okay and have unlimited potential, whereas therapy assumes the client is sick or dysfunctional and needs healing so they can function “normally.”
What is Life Coaching A Solution For?
Life coaching is a solution for those of us, who are highly functioning and yet still suffering.
Life coaches offer guidance for:
- Clarifying and creating actionable steps for personal and professional growth.
- Improving communication and social interactions both at home and at work.
- Achieving financial independence.
- Developing a work/life balance with hobbies and fun. Starting a new business or growing a current business.
- Improving and repairing personal relationships.
There are issues and traumas that require therapy in order to be healed, before some people can move on in their life.
And there are many things that don’t require you to relive and incessantly talk about your past to solve it.
I have worked with 100’s of clients, I’m not exaggerating, who found that coaching changed their lives in months and even weeks, that years of therapy had never been able to do.
That was my experience having gone through therapy myself, which is why I choose to be a coach verses a therapist.
Why Your Stories Hurt You
I believe the reason is because in most therapy sessions, you spend your time retelling your story of the past over and over again. But my work as a life coach is to help you move forward and let go of the past.
If you keep retelling all your old stories and repeating past thoughts, you are just training your brain to keep thinking those same thoughts.
Being future focused helps train your brain to a different reality.
If you feel as if something in your past is preventing you from functioning in your world today, you may need more therapy.
The people that I am most effective with are the people who have had years of therapy and don’t yet have freedom.
They’ve gone from to therapist after therapist. They’ve tried to get over their past, but they’re still upset.
They’re still resentful. They’re still victimized. They’re still hating themselves.
Those are the people that find coaching very fast and effective, because they’ve already opened up their wounds from the past and now they are ready to move beyond them.
What Is Relationship Coaching?
Relationship coaching is the same. It is for people want help and perspective of what they are doing to contribute to the issues and problems in the relationship.
They are ready to take responsibility to communicate their wants and needs in a new way, so their partner will inevitably respond back differently. They are willing to look and understand their partner in a new way, so they can reconnect with the love and connection.
It is incredibly powerful and effective.
Why Your Mental Health Is So Important
I think because of our environment, because of the way that our brain has evolved and what we’re up against, life coaching is needed more than ever.
And if you are someone that is out there that isn’t investing in your mental health, if you’re not in therapy, if you don’t have a life coach, if you’re not spending time investing in your health, you will be left behind in terms of your ability to cope.
And if you’re not paying attention to your brain and deliberately thinking what you want to think on purpose, you will get swept up into the messages that are constantly being put into your brain. And if you’re haphazard about that, you may end up being something, with someone and doing something you don’t want to be.
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