What Is The Difference Between a Coach and a Therapist?
In the world of self-help/wellness, there are two categories to support your mental health:
Category 1 includes: Therapists, Counsellors, Psychologists
Category 2 includes: Coaches, Mentors or Consultants
As someone who has training in both worlds, I'll do my best to articulate the difference between both for you and share the benefits of knowing your options. F
Therapy is for those who want to unpack their past hurts and wounds, process emotions and have space held for them. Sadly, therapy can sometimes be a never-ending loop of crisis regulation rather than any goal setting or momentum forward. I have heard many clients share stories with me about how they quit therapy when they started to "feel good" because their therapist didn't guide them to understand what could truly support them in improving their life. Many don't realize that feeling good is simply a baseline and this is where the true work of change begins!
In therapy, often what ends up happening is: a loop of crisis —> receive support/listening —> emotional regulation --> Stop therapy —> Back to therapy when a crisis arises again. This is how people stay STUCK.
What most don't realize is that there are a few steps missing in the healing process and this is where coaching comes into play:
Start with a crisis and/or realize you want to make a change in your life—> receive support throughout the change process —> emotional regulation --> set goals —> support for the nervous system when breaking habits --> learn new ways to reach goals —> receive accountability — >change your life!
This is why working with a therapist who is trained in coaching a well can truly support ALL your needs. (Me!)
For me, my goal is never to keep clients seeing me for years and years. My goal is to always propel them forward and empower them to live the life of their dreams!
And this is why I personally have chosen to switch from therapist to coach. For me and my practice, it is much more in alignment with my values. I have heard horror stories of other counsellors and therapists simply listing to clients vent for 1 hr and then giving zero guidance or tools to cope while seeing them for years and years with zero changes made. This is all too common, which is why many therapists themselves are burnt out and are unable to provide grounded support.
The additional piece that should be noted is that anyone with letters behind their name (most therapists have this) practices under a governing body and abides by their code of ethics. This, though many assume, is NOT indicative of how qualified someone is to support you. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT when you're deciding who to work with. However, coaches are not regulated and can sometimes do more harm than good, if not qualified to support a client through trauma, for example, or if they don't understand their scope of practice and are leary to refer their clients to others.
I, personally, have created coaching programs that mix therapy tools and trauma support alongside coaching strategies that time and time again have proven to support many of my clients. I do not have one set plan for every single person I work with as much of my work is curated for the client and their specific needs.
All of my training as a therapist and coach has supported me in being client centred, which means that YOU drive the car but I hold the map. I am in the passenger seat and I know where we are going but I empower you with the gas and the breaks. As a coach, I am here to guide you and empower you to find your answers while teaching you tools to keep you on your path.
Now if you've ever questioned the heck is coaching so much more expensive than therapy, let me tell you from personal experience- coaching is WAY more involved with the client relationship in between sessions, coaching requires marketing, promoting, social media, content creation, course creation, and many many more behind the scenes admin components that traditional therapists do not need to do. In addition, a good coach will be there to hold your hand through making big changes because they know takes support to shift and grow. I personally connect with my clients via Voxer (a voice and text app) when they are in crisis, going into having that tough conversation or are working to shift a habit that no longer serves them. We make changes during the moment it is happening! As a therapist, I was not allowed to do this for my clients, based on the code of ethics I was a part of, which, for me, was a huge reason for me to shift to becoming a coach.
A good coach (and or therapist) will also be mindful not to be working with you in burn out. I treat all my clients like VIP's because they are. When I was a counsellor I often would try to see 5-6 clients per day and holding that much space is exhausting for the best of us. You wouldn't believe how many folks out there are in burn out but need the finances so they continue to see clients while offering terrible support- even unhealthy advice at times.
On top of this coaching WILL get you to where you want to go. When we work together you and I BOTH have the same goals and intentions and so you will most certainly experience change if you dedicate your time and energy towards YOURSELF and your journey. Successful people have coaches in their corner.
I want to also mention that coaching is not just for businesses. Many people assume coaches are for elite folks in business when in fact, most of what I support my clients with is emotional tools, relationships, and spiritual components alongside learning how to find their authentic voice/alignment.
Lastly, don’t worry if you’re not sure what your goals are, the goal can simply be “I want to enhance my life” or I” want to grow.” These are perfect starting points and it is my job to inquire as to what areas in life aren’t working for you and see how we can make you feel more at ease as you step into your power.
Are you curious to learn more about how we can work together?
I work with female clients and couples and I do Human Design Readings.
In summary, if you’re wondering what the right path for you is, do I see a therapist or coach? There is no wrong choice. Both Can support your needs. At the end of the day I strongly invite you to ask questions to your coach or therapist when you book your discovery call. Ask them what their training is and see if it can support your need and be specific. If you want to work through your childhood, relationships or any trauma then you will want to find a coach or therapist that is legitimately trauma informed.
Please note: if you struggle with a severe mental health disorder and it impacts your day to day life- may want to work with a therapist who is trained in your diagnosis.
I hope this helps you in understanding further what your needs are!
Feel free to comment below if you’ve got any questions.