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Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling? What to choose and when

What is the difference between Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling?

If you ever asked Google a question: “difference between life coach and therapist” you got a overwhelming number of the results. The difference between coaching and therapy, therapy and counseling, psychologist and psychotherapist – mind blowing number of the details and information, that is very hard to navigate, and to comprehend. This article is to give you all details you need to know in short, yet easy understandable way.

Do you want to know the difference between Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling? Do you want to learn what to choose and when? If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading to find all the answers below.

Who are Life Coaches and What is Life Coaching?

According to Tony Robbins and his website, life coach is a professional, trained to help you maximize your full potential and reach your desired results. During life coaching session, life coach encourages and counsels clients on a range of professional and personal issues. Life coaching is different from counseling, mentoring and administering therapy. You hire a coach to help you with specific professional projects, personal goals and transitions.

As you can see, life coaching is not focused on the client’s mental health issues, instead, life coaches help a person or team identify a goal (i.e. winning) and then they develop a plan for that person or group.

Who is Psychotherapist and Therapy?

According to MedicalNewsToday, Psychotherapy is is a way to help people with a broad variety of psychological traumas and emotional difficulties. It can help treat challenges and and cope with symptoms relating to mental health and emotions.

Psychotherapy can help when depression, low self-esteem, addiction, bereavement, or other factors leave a person feeling overwhelmed. It can also help treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and certain other mental health conditions.

Psychotherapists are fully certified medical professionals, helping people to overcome trauma, stress, emotional and relationship problems or troublesome habits during therapy sessions. There are many different approaches in psychotherapy, or talking therapies, which include: cognitive behavioural therapies. psychoanalytic therapies or, even online (virtual) therapy.

Who is Counselor and What is Counseling?

According to the American Counseling Association, counseling is defined as, “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

Definition given by the British National Healthcare System (NHS) is a bit different: “Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues. Sometimes the term “counselling” is used to refer to talking therapies in general, but counselling is also a type of therapy in its own right.”

Councelor (or Councellor as it spelled in UK) simply a trained professional therapist, who is listening to the client and counceling (helping) the client to resolve an emotional, mental and other issues.

Councelling exists in different forms and formats – personal councelling, group or even online counseling.

Counseling is similar to psychotherapy, and the two can overlap. However, the psychotherapy tends to look more deeply, addressing the underlying causes of a person’s problems as well as how to solve them.

So let’s get to our main question: Difference between Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling and What to choose and when.

Therapy focuses more on mental health, while life coaching focuses on goals

The focus of the work is the biggest difference between therapy and life coaching, because therapy focuses on mental health in the first place as well as emotional healing, while life coaching concentrates on setting and achieving goals.

Therapists are real doctors, as they are trained mental health professionals, work in the strictly regulated area of healthcare, and require licensure. Life coaches on the other hand are not required to have mental health training and therefore not suited to diagnose or treat mental health conditions unless they were previously trained as a therapist, which is actually pretty common.

You should consider therapy in case you want to heal or get help with a mental health problem while getting a life coach is needed to get help making yourself “unstuck” or realising a fuller potential.

What are the cases when you should to see therapist or councelor or life coach?

Cases in which you should see a therapist or a counselor:

  • You experience certain mental health symptoms that induce difficulties in your life, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or disordered eating.
  • You want to recover from past harm or trauma.
  • You need support in sorting out your emotions.
  • You have issues with relationships and want to discover strategies to feel less impacted by other people.
  • You are experiencing relationship issues with your partner and think you could benefit from couples counseling.

Cases in which you should see a life coach

  • You want to get ‘unstuck’ in your life and set definitive goals that you will actually achieve.
  • You want to hasten to the next level of your career.
  • You feel like your life is going as on autopilot, and want to stimulate yourself or break out of the comfort zone.
  • You want to get rid of unhelpful habits and substitute them with more healthy alternatives.
  • You feel like your inner critic prevents you from living your best possible life and you want to find out how to mute that voice. 
  • You want to have a life with purpose and meaning in it, but do not know where exactly to start.
  • You feel doubtful about the next step in your life, struggling with making career decisions or major life choices, and want to have guidance on how to fix it.
  • You want to release your inner motivation for some big goal, such as starting a business
  • You want to start being more responsible in your personal or professional life

Therapy will help you learn to heal, while coaching empowers you to reach goals

Therapists are trying to help clients look to their past in order to defeat deep-rooted issues, while life coaches are aiming to help you get off today’s point to succeed tomorrow. The skills you get from visiting a therapist are designed mainly to promote healing from whichever difficulty you are facing. Life coaching, on the other hand, gives you the necessary tools to reach your dreams or break free from routine if you currently feel stuck on repeat in your life.

Therapy will help you heal from mental health issues, as you will address mental and emotional problems you are facing by learning such therapy techniques as:

  • Mindfulness skills
  • Cognitive reframing
  • Gaining more insight into how your past affects you at the present day
  • Recovering from past traumatic experiences
  • Resolving relationship issues with the help of couples counseling.

Therapy is rooted in the past and present, while coaching focuses mainly on the future

The type of therapy most people are more familiar with looks at what is going on inside of you, whether emotionally, psychologically, or personally.

During therapy sessions, you are often returning to the past emotional experiences, the patterns, the wounds, and the learning that you had in your life, and connecting all the dots to better understand how they have brought you to this point. The main goal of therapy is to release the places where you are blocked in order for you to be happier, more resolved, and at peace. Basically, therapy is working on the psychological difficulties deep from their source and doing the healing work. So essentially, in therapy, you are deeply considering the questions and trying to resolve them to feel free to move forward.

The format of therapy is methodical, while coaching sessions are often clear structures

Therapy session structures vary greatly depending on the type of treatment and typically begins with a longer opening session, also known as an intake. During this session, clients and therapists have the time to know one another better and evaluate whether there is a fit. The following session structure depends on each therapist’s approach. For instance, during art therapy, you might spend the time creating and discussing your art and discuss the thoughts and emotions that appear as you draw, paint, or sculpt, along with memories that appear during the creative process.

Whereas therapy is not normally time-limited, coaching is usually short-term

Therapy often does not have a set “end date”, so it usually is not time-limited and sessions can continue for months or even years, in an ongoing fashion. There are some exceptions though, which include highly structured formats, like pure cognitive behavioural therapy and premarital counseling.

Coaches, on the other hand, usually offer their services in packages, which are varied but more commonly short-term from 6-10 weeks up to annual options. So upon completion of the package, you can decide if you would like to continue working with your coach or not.


Now you know what difference between Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling, and if you ever will need to find therapy or best therapist, or choose between life coach or counselor, you will make your choice with full confidence and knowledge.

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Want to learn more about life coaching? You can find more articles on this subject here. Thank you for your interest in PowerMotivator.com

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