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Many people who seek professional help when it comes to their emotional and mental well-being turn to either a Therapist or a Life Coach. Oftentimes, people interchange the two due to their similar backgrounds and popular misconceptions portrayed in the media. 

True enough, both disciplines are centered on helping people improve their lives and grow into the best versions of themselves. As a life coach myself, I find it easier to differentiate the two professions on three main aspects: focus, objective, and approach. 

FOCUS: Therapists focus on emotional trauma and mental health. Life coaches focus on helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. 

OBJECTIVE: Therapists help their patients process, cope, and heal from their trauma or mental health issues.  Life coaches help their clients identify values, create a vision and life purpose, and create forward momentum. 

APPROACH: Therapists try various medically-approved methods to heal their patients’ past trauma. Life coaches ask powerful questions, create accountability, and identify inner resources found in the present that can help build your future.  

Read below to learn more about these three key differences. 

Therapists treat trauma and mental health problems. Life Coaches are focused on personal development and self-growth. 

The number one way to identify if you need a therapist or a life coach is to determine what you want to achieve by working with a professional. Do you want to heal from a past trauma, work on bad habits, or improve relationships? Or perhaps you need someone to help you perform better in your career, finish a passion project, or start a business? 

If your concerns are directed more towards understanding why you experience certain emotions or behave in particular ways, I recommend seeing a therapist or counselor. However, if you are more inclined on how you can do something or be someone, then working with a life coach like me might be the answer you’ve been looking for. 

See a therapist if: 

  • You experience mental health disorder symptoms (anxiety, prolonged sadness, irritability, extreme mood swings)
  • You have experienced severe trauma
  • You feel overwhelmed with emotions
  • You feel unable to connect with others or yourself
  • You experience desire to harm yourself or others

See a life coach if: 

  • You feel stagnant or stuck in your life.
  • You don’t feel motivated to improve your life
  • You have trouble achieving goals
  • You want to unlearn bad habits 
  • You’re navigating a big life or career change

Therapists help people heal. Life Coaches help people succeed. 

The goal of therapy and counseling is to help people overcome what has happened to them In the past and to understand how they can manage emotions that affect their daily lives. They help patients come to terms with their experiences and break free from self-destructive habits.

On the other hand, a life coach is focused on encouraging individuals to fulfill their potential and purpose. We help clients find ways to stay motivated and feel confident to solve their own problems and succeed in their endeavors. We work together with clients to follow through with their goals and break through obstacles and limiting beliefs.

Therapists deep dive into the subconscious. Life Coaches bring out inner strength and power. 

Trained therapists work with patients through a variety of methods that can be a combination of medication and different forms of therapy. Sessions are often free of structure and conducive to emotional sharing and a “plan-as-you-go” approach. 

Life Coaches employ a more streamlined approach. We work with clients to unlock their own power and shift from a reactive position to a proactive one. We focus on helping individuals power through hardships, doubts, and fears in the present to create a purpose-driven future for themselves. 

At the end of the day, knowing when to seek help whether from a therapist or a life coach is already a HUGE step in bettering your life. So I congratulate you for being brave enough to consider professional help and wish you all the best in your journey!

May you find the help you seek


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