Life Coach vs. Therapy

One of the most common questions I get from those who are curious about life coaching is... "What is the difference between a 'coach' and a 'therapist'?"  It's a great question and an important distinction.  First, both are viable options for those seeking to enact change in their lives.  Furthermore, both support clients in working through unconscious beliefs in service to gaining a better understanding of themselves in order to improve the quality of their lives.  While I will do my best to clarify the distinctions between the two, there is no doubt I will be remiss in clarifying certain aspects.  After all, navigating the mind, emotions, the conscious, and the unconscious is a highly complex process.  Below I highlighted some key distinctions:

Therapists primarily delve into the past as a means to navigate the unconscious and conscious in the present moment.  Therapists are great at connecting the dots of conscious/unconscious patterns and life experiences in order to better understand the present which certainly can positively impact the future.  More self awareness = more consciousness of their choices in their every day lives.  Yet, therapists are limited within the confines of the APA (American Psychological Association) as to what they can say, cannot say, can do and cannot do.  These confines can be limiting especially in regards to focusing on the future, which requires action, and sometimes risk.  In therapy, end goals are not always clearly defined, which means one can be in therapy for a long time, and sometimes their entire lives.  There is tremendous value in having someone to talk to and work through your problems and I highly recommend having someone to talk with.  We live in a complicated world in complicated times, and just about everyone can benefit from having a professional help them unravel what they don't know about themselves.  Yet, for someone who wants to take action, make a powerful impact and swift change in their lives, life coaching may be a better option.  To enact a truly transformational shift requires much more then just talking through your issues. This is where a Life Coach can play an important role.  

Life Coaches.  Before I attempt to describe a Life Coach, please note they run the gamut in terms of their focus, capability and value.  There are incredible coaches and unfortunately terrible ones out there.  Life Coaching is an unregulated industry therefore it's critically important to do your homework before choosing one.  Ex: training, schooling, experience, testimonials and your sense of trust and personal connection.  Also, some coaches have a specific niche and focus.  Life Coaching provides a discipline designed to inspire and motivate one to achieve more than they thought was possible for them.  The 2 key differences that Life Coaching provides is that it is future driven and action oriented.

Life Coaches focus on a future end goal (something to create).  We actively work in the present over an identified period of time with this end goal in mind.  A good coaching relationship is action-oriented and a client should be ready for change.  Personally, this is how I work with clients and I can't speak specifically for other coaches.  Within my first few sessions with a client, an in-depth life summary is completed, unconscious blocks are identified, a means to resolve those blocks are understood, practiced and an objective is created.  We focus primarily in the present, yet we are future driven and delve into the past as needed.  Then we take action which is the 2nd key difference.  

Life Coaches take action:  You can't possibly enact change doing the same thing over and over.  You must be willing to challenge yourself in new ways.  Just like someone would hire a personal trainer for their body, a nutritionist for their diet, a sports coach for sports, etc., we often need a guide in our lives providing a compass to direct and redirect when making significant internal changes.  Plus, with a really good life coach, you'll have someone who truly cares about you and is committed to your success.  Personally, I work hard for my clients and care deeply about them.  I work with only 10 clients at a time to allow for a quality experience.    

For the sake of this article I am focusing more on how I personally coach clients.  From my personal perspective, I consider myself more of a "deep" coach, with a Spiritual (not religious) perspective and skill set.  My primary goal is helping those who are stuck in patterns wanting/trying to break through something new, in service to creating a new experience.  A quality Life Coach is equipped and trained to "heal" past traumas and hurts.  There is no way to make major transformational change without healing old patterns and sometimes those patterns are attached to limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves.  We all have them in a variety of ways, some deeper than others.  

Again, both Life Coaching and Therapy are great options, it just depends on the depth of the issue and the amount of change one wants to experience.  As a coach, I interview potential clients before working with them.  If I determine the potential client isn't yet ready for a coaching contract, I will suggest other options for them to consider, and sometimes that option is to seek therapy.

Bottom line, Life Coaching is more action oriented and future driven, it involves commitment and there is an end goal in mind.  We are striving for an outcome within a specified time frame.  I work with clients in either 3 or 6 month contracts, plus I offer a 1 Day Intensive.  All are great for people who are hungry for change, ready to show up for themselves in a whole new way and have the courage to look within.  It is powerful work and can be really FUN to take steps to a newer, more magnificent version of you!  

For those who want to explore a coaching partnership with me, check my website at for more information and to book an exploratory call with me.  I work with clients in the US and Internationally via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, phone or in person in Los Angeles.  

Click here for a Tony Robbin's article on Life Coaching vs. Therapy



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