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Life coaching is one of the most underrated and misunderstood professional services that is often confused for, or incorrectly compared with psychotherapy. After all, both these services revolve around personal development. Even though they are practiced in a variety of ways, they do tend to overlap quite a bit and it is imperative for us to understand the difference between the two to determine the services we require.

While both services are delivered in a similar fashion in a “one-on-one” or small group session, they cater to very different needs of people.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy or counselling is where the client works to resolve traumas, residual emotions and feelings from the past, behavioral issues, triggers and their physical responses with a healthcare professional. By focusing on healing from past issues and traumas, a psychotherapist helps you process painful feelings through introspection in order to help you create a stable future.

So what is Life Coaching? How is it different?

Life coaching is where the client works with a “coach” who helps them identify their goals and understand obstacles in order to create actionable plans that help them achieve these goals. Life coaches are not healthcare professionals and even though there may be some overlapping in terms of approach, life coaches refrain from diagnosing symptoms and do not dig into the past. They accept the client’s current state as a neutral ground to start with.

Life coaches work towards putting their clients on the driver’s seat and facilitating them with perspective and mental resources so clients learn to build healthy practices that bring them closer to achieving their goals.

Life Coach: Myth Busters

#1 Life coaches are psychotherapists without a license.

It is widely misunderstood that life coaches are psychotherapists without a license. Life coaches are trained professionals who facilitate their clients to identify and modify their “current'' problematic behaviors in order to successfully achieve their goals while psychotherapists delve into the past to understand the occurrence of certain behavior patterns.

While there is no government body regulating life coaching, the coaches do receive training and certification. Life coaching does not require a license as coaches are not healthcare professionals.

#2 Coaching is a “rich people” thing

Even though coaching has its roots amongst celebrities, billionaires and high-level executive clients, the profession has grown into all walks of everyday life. Coaching is for everyone. It is an effective way for people to learn to take accountability and work towards building the future they desire

#3 Life coaches have all the answers

It is easy to believe that life coaches might have perfect lives as they seem to have answers for everything. The truth is, coaches are trained professionals who ask the right questions. Coaches provide clients with important questions and give them a perspective that aids in breaking out of their tunnel vision and exploring their own capabilities.

How do I know if I need a life coach or a psychotherapist?

Both life coaches and psychotherapists serve unique roles in personal development. You may need one or the other or a combination of both.

If you are looking for someone to guide you through dysfunctions of your past and help you heal from them, you are looking for a therapist.

If you wish to take responsibility for your own life and need someone to facilitate you through that journey, then life coaching is for you.

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