Coach or Couch?

How does a life coach differ from a therapist?  This is a frequently asked question.  They are two very different professionals.  I know, a therapist doesn’t really use a couch, but it’s fun for the title, no?

A therapist deals with a mental health disorder.  Even if it is a temporary situation in life that is giving you problems, the therapist has to assign a mental health diagnosis and have a treatment plan.  The basis of therapy is to focus on the negative, meaning the mental health label and either decrease your symptoms or modify your behavior.  If you are seeing a psychiatrist, you may be given a prescription.

A Life Coach is more of a cheerleader for you.  The Life Coach listens to you to determine where you are in life and to help figure out where you want your life to go.  If you are stuck in any area, a good coach will help you get unstuck.  In coaching sessions you and the coach will create some goals and the coach will layout what you need to do to get there.

Coaching sessions are much more informal than a session with a therapist.  It is a lot more fun, too.  With your coach you can talk about your dreams and all the positive aspects of life.  Coaches can help develop some strategic planning.  No matter what it is you want to do to improve your life, a coach is like a wing man for you.  You can talk to your coach about dating, parenting, divorce issues.  You can meet with your coach anywhere.

As a Divorce coach, I like to help people improve communication.  Some of the biggest problems that come from divorce are either communication struggles with a co parenting situation or with a court professional, often a parenting consultant.  I review emails prior to my clients sending them through and give a critique of the communication.  If you are placing blame or hostile, I’ll help you tone it down so that your main points do not get lost.

A coach tries to help you figure out your path.  Whether you are trying find true love or decide on a new career path, your coach will help you find the answers.  It is a very pleasant and uplifting experience.  Many coaches offer a free consultation so you can give it a try without risk.

How long you see a therapist is usually decided by your health insurance company.  How long you see a coach is up to you.  some people seek coaching for a few months.  Some people continue with a coach for  a year or more.  There are others who just choose coaching when they are struggling.  No matter how long you decide to work with a coach, it should be beneficial for you from day one.

If you have had therapy, I invite you to try coaching for a little something different.  It’s a great experience.

Image: Ambro /

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