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Life coach vs. Therapist-What's the difference?

As a life coach, I often get asked about the difference between therapy and life coaching. It's a superb question because many years ago, I had to the same one! While both professions aim to support individuals in reaching their goals and improving their lives, there are some key differences between therapy and life coaching. It's important not to conflate the two roles so you understand the limitations of each process and also how both can work in tandem for you.




Therapy is a mental health profession that addresses and treats mental and emotional disorders and issues. Therapists use various techniques to help you explore your feelings and emotions, understand your thoughts and behaviors, and process your experiences. Therapy focuses on resolving psychological and emotional problems, improving self-esteem, and helping you manage your mental health in an attainable manner that works for you.


Life coaching, on the other hand, is a support system that helps individuals reach their personal and professional goals. Life coaches help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, set realistic goals, and develop action plans to reach your desired outcomes. Life coaching focuses on empowering individuals to achieve their full potential and improve their lives in areas such as career, relationships, and personal growth.


Each profession has boundaries. It is important to note that life coaches do not diagnose or treat mental health conditions, and I refer clients to a therapist or healthcare provider if needed. For example, if we begin working through your life goals and we uncover the root to your roadblock to moving forward is past trauma with your parents, I know that we are at an impasse with our work unless you unpack your feelings and trauma to move forward. This is when I suggest you work with a therapist to help you manage this effectively. This is the key boundary between therapy and life coaching. While therapy focuses on resolving past issues, life coaching focuses on the present and the future, helping clients reach their desired outcomes. Therapy helps you better understand your feelings and unpack your past issues, so you can move forward with your life coach. This is how both roles work in tandem in your personal growth.


Both therapy and life coaching are essential to personal growth. Therapy provides a supportive environment to address mental health and emotional issues, while life coaching provides guidance and support to help individuals reach their personal and professional goals. Both roles are crucial in helping individuals lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. It's important to understand the difference between the two and choose the right support system that best fits your needs.

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