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How is Life Coaching different from Therapy?

A midcentury modern couch in an empty sunlit room

One of the most common questions about Life Coaching is how it differs from psychotherapy. It's a valid questions because, in the age of social media, the term "coaching" is tossed around a lot; and it seems like there's a "coach" for everything.

Unlike the fleeting advice of social media influencers, coaching goes far beyond trendy TikTok videos. The field of Life Coaching is actually well-established, and one of the best-kept secrets in the world of self-improvement and wellness. Working with a qualified coach can even be a transformative experience, empowering individuals to break free from self-defeating patterns and gain the necessary knowledge and support to change their lives.

If you think that sounds a lot like therapy, you are right; but there are important differences between coaching and healthcare interventions like psychotherapy.

First, it's important to note that therapy, whether medical or psychological, is crucial for treating illnesses. In the realm of mental wellness, where coaching and therapy are most often confused, psychotherapy is necessary for diagnosing and treating mental illness and behavioral disorders. The work of therapy most often delves into one's past with the goal of learning to understand, manage, and cope with symptoms.

However, not all of life's challenges fall under the umbrella of a clinical diagnosis. In fact, many of the struggles we face, while difficult and often deeply personal, are universal human experiences. From navigating relationships and loss to fostering personal and professional growth, life is a series of hurdles; and while these aren't illnesses, we can still benefit from a guiding hand during these challenging times.

This is where the distinction between Life Coaching and therapy shines. Coaching doesn't diagnose or pathologize life experiences, nor does it dwell in the past. Coaching is a forward-looking practice that concentrates on building strengths and strategies to create a superior future for yourself, however you define and dream it to be..

A comparison chart between Holistic Life Coaching and psychotherapy summarizing the key points of this article

In the case of Holistic Life Coaching, which I offer at my practice, this work can have a broad scope, from self-discovery to motivation, relationship management, intellectual pursuits, and goal attainment in any other sphere of life. As the term "holistic" suggests, this approach to coaching views the individual as a whole – mind, body, and spirit – and draws from a larger spectrum of disciplines to foster self-awareness and growth.

If you're looking for this type of guidance, remember that the title "coach" alone isn't enough. Seek out coaches who have dedicated years to their craft, and especially those who are credentialed educators or certified practitioners. It is through their rigorous study and depth of experience that your path to self-improvement will have the best chance of success.

A quote from Dr. Anthony Rotolo that reads, "We all struggle at times; and when we’re feeling stuck, afraid, or lost, we can all use support to get ourselves back on track. But life’s problems are not always a matter of mental illness.   Coaching exists to fill that gap  with expert guidance for the many everyday challenges that require self-awareness, motivation, and action  to solve — but not a diagnosis.

As a seasoned educator with a doctorate in psychology and 20 years of experience coaching people of all ages, my approach to Holistic Life Coaching is deeply rooted in research and practical expertise. I apply not only theories from psychology, but concepts from communication, philosophy, neuroscience, and other fields to support my clients in every dimension of wellness..

If you are considering working with a life coach, remember that coaching is not about carrying a diagnosis as a label; it's about carrying your dreams and aspirations as a banner. No matter how you wish to grow, or what kind of future you dream about, a qualified coach can be a pivotal force in your life's journey. In my own experience, I have witnessed many remarkable transformations, and that is both the aim and the reward of this work.


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