A common question I receive when explaining my holistic life coaching practice is, “what is the difference between therapy and life coaching?” While there are many similarities between the two, when comparing therapy vs. life coaching there are also many differences that are important to know so that you can choose the right option for you.
1. Personal Stories
A life coach will often share personal stories to relate to their client, while therapists often refrain from sharing personal information with their clients. A life coach will share stories because most of the time, a life coach has gone through the same process that they are now helping their client through. Another reason stories may be shared is to relate to the client and to make sure they know that there are other people that have similar experiences and struggles as them – even the coach – and that these struggles can be overcome.
2. Medical Advice or Diagnosis
Therapists are licensed and educated to work with clients suffering from psychological disorders. While a life coach can still work with someone suffering from mental illnesses, they must be stable to proceed with life coaching. Life coaching is about setting goals and making changes, while a therapist will often spend more time discussing these mental illnesses and how to manage them. A life coach will also never offer medical advice or diagnose a client.
Oftentimes, therapy can last for years. Life coaching is a more direct and succinct approach, only lasting for a few weeks or a few months. Life coaching educates the client and sets them up for success that they can continue to achieve on their own. Once a client has gone through the life coaching process, it is up to them to use what they’ve learned and dedicate themselves to making positive changes.
4. Why vs. How
Therapists spend a lot of time with their clients discovering the “why” – the reasons that someone has certain behavior patterns and thoughts. This will include a lot of digging into their past and the situations or circumstances that they are reacting to and how it has shaped them to who they are today. Therapy sessions offer a safe space for clients to vent about how they are feeling and the problems that they are having. Another word for this is talk therapy. On the other hand, life coaches spend more time on the “how,” so that they can help change our thoughts about our problems and teach us how to work towards our goals. Life coaches will listen to a client’s problems, but it is more about learning how to shift your perspective. A life coach will use solution-based thinking to discuss how we can change our perception of the problem and take steps to overcome it.
5. Discussing the Past
A therapist may spend years working with a client and discussing their past. A traditional life coach will not work with a client’s past, but a holistic life coach falls somewhere between the two. A holistic life coach will learn about a client’s past to discover what from their past is preventing the client from obtaining their goals. Once those limits are discovered, a holistic life coach will then help the client define and plan their goals.
6. Mind, Body, Spirit
Therapists spend a lot of their time talking to their client about their mind. While they may recommend changes to make to the body such as exercise and eating better, they may not always connect all three. A holistic life coach combines traditional life coaching techniques with a holistic approach, looking to heal the mind, body, and spirit as one. A holistic coach will educate the client on how all three are connected and that we need to work on all three to be the best version of ourselves.
I hope this helps to explain the difference between therapy vs. holistic life coaching and can help you to make the right decision for your needs! Please contact me if you have any further questions or if you’d like to get started with holistic life coaching!