Igor Giusti PhD(c)
75 Manhattan Dr. Suite 302
Boulder, CO 80303

There are often a lot of similarities between coaching vs. therapy, as well as important differences too. Both though, are meant to ultimately help clients improve themselves and become the best that they can be.

Coaching vs. Therapy:  Areas of Focus

What are the areas of focus for a life coach vs. a therapist? Consider these descriptions:

  • A life coach is someone who can help with a particular area of your life that you wish to improve. These specialties can range from job searching, employment skills, finances, even helping people with learning differences such as ADHD. They advise, but do not give directives. Instead, they help people discover for themselves how to achieve their goals.
  • A therapist can also be specialized or a generalist. However, their focus is more about diving deep and finding the meaning of your feelings, and to address therapeutic concerns such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or even a spiritual crisis.

Coaching vs. Therapy:  Similarities

A life coach and a therapist share many similarities, including:

  • A desire to help people to be their best and live healthy lives.
  • Specific skills and knowledge that can be an asset to clients seeking help.
  • May use similar strategies for facilitating a session.
  • Can be “sounding boards” for clients to gain new perspectives to effect change in their lives.

Coaching vs. Therapy:  Qualifications

  • A life coach will have experience related to the area of focus they specialize in. For instance, a life coach who helps people with employment skills could have a background in human resources. They can also hold a certification from a life coach training organization.
  • A therapist will usually hold a master’s degree or higher in social work or counseling, and will have had professional internships as part of their graduate training. They may also have attended post-graduate training courses as well.

Coaching vs. Therapy:  How to Use Both

A client who has both a therapist and a life coach can utilize both professionals to their advantage. For instance:

  • A life coach can help with specific action objectives that the client wishes to achieve:  writing a better resume, understanding learning styles, being able to navigate work or school environments effectively.
  • A therapist can help you process a wide variety of emotions that you are feeling and help you learn new tools to better understand and regulate them. For example a therapist would provide help understanding why you are depressed or assist you in resolving past trauma.

Combined together, you gain someone who can help with specific steps to reach your goals, and a person that allows you to better understand the roots of your feelings and emotions.

Coaching vs. Therapy:  Transpersonal Life Coaching

If you are looking for a life coach that uses a spiritual approach, consider a transpersonal life coach. Someone trained in transpersonal coaching can help you find the connection between the spiritual self and your consciousness in order to help you become your authentic self. You can also find a therapist trained in transpersonal psychology to get the added benefit of both perspectives.

A life coach and a therapist are not opposite ends of a spectrum. In fact, they can share similar objectives, values, and a committed desire to help others. They do have their own specialties and methods as to how they approach and  accomplish this. However, by utilizing both a life coach and a therapist, you can gain much from their knowledge and be doubly able to make positive changes in your life.