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Therapy Vs. Life Coaching: Which Do I Need?

By: Briana Hollis, Creator of Learning to Be Free Blog

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What’s the difference between life coaching and therapy? This is a question that many people ask when they are seeking to better themselves in some way.  Should I go to therapy or should I see a life coach? The answer to this question could be one or the other…or both!

I’ve personally had both a therapist and a life coach (though at different points in my life). I started going to therapy in January of 2018 after going through a break-up with someone that I felt very connected to, though we had only been dating for about a month and a half.  He absolutely broke my heart and it felt different from my other break-ups. I had always said to myself that I would start going to therapy, but I kept putting it off. It was then that I decided that I couldn’t put it off any longer.

I started looking for a life coach later that same year because I was feeling stagnant in my career. I continued to get passed over for multiple promotions and increasingly felt like my workplace was not the place for me. But, I wasn’t sure what my next step should be.  I happened to come upon my life coach in a Facebook group. As a fellow woman of color, from a similar background and work circumstances, I felt that she would understand me.


Therapy

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What is Therapy?

Going to therapy means that you are going to see a qualified and licensed mental health professional to work through problems often related to mental health disorders, trauma, relationships, or other issues.  

Individuals Who Can Provide Therapy:

  • Social Workers

  • Mental Health Counselors

  • Psychologists

  • Psychiatrists (to a limited degree)

Individuals who provide therapy are licensed through their respective states and can only practice in the states in which they are licensed. Each state has different policies and procedures for licensing individuals who practice therapy, as well as hierarchy of licensing for these professionals. Be sure to check with your state on their guidelines if necessary.

Reasons You Might Go to Therapy:

  • You want to work through trauma

  • You have a mental health disorder

  • You want to voice difficult thoughts

  • You want support in developing coping skills

  • You want to talk to an unbiased person


Life Coaching

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What is Life Coaching?

Life Coaching is a process of assessments, questioning, and collaboration through which a life coach and a client work together on client identified goals. These goals can be related to careers, relationships, or anything that the client may be interested in achieving.

Individuals Who Can Provide Life Coaching:

  • Life Coaches

  • Social Workers

  • Psychologists

  • Mental Health Counselors

The field of life coaching is not regulated and individuals who provide life coaching DO NOT have to be licensed or certified to practice life coaching.  The two organizations that do provide certification for life coaches are the International Coaching Federation (https://coachfederation.org/) and the Center for Credentialing and Education (https://www.cce-global.org/). These organizations provide outside verification that a life coach has gone through a program that meets their standards. There are many programs that provide life coaching education.

Reasons You Might Go to a Life Coach:

  • You want support and accountability in achieving goals

  • You are transitioning through a new life or career stage

  • You feel stagnant in one or more areas of your life

  • You want a large focus on practical solutions


Therapy + Life Coaching

What You Will Gain from both Therapy and Life Coaching

  • Unconditional Positive Regard (You are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole)

  • Support with goal setting

  • Someone who will listen without judgment

  • A sense of empowerment

  • A space to vent and talk

My therapist assisted me with gaining coping skills and a new perspective on my anxiety, while my life coach provided me with space to think about ways in which I wanted to grow in my career and life. As someone  who has been through both and someone who has done both, neither is better than the other. It is about what you feel you need and the connection that you are able to build with your them.

XOXO

Briana

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About the Author…

Briana is a social worker and blogger living in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling to see her partner, and playing with her cat. She started her blog, Learning to Be Free, to help others with their self-discovery and self-love journey.