🤯 Therapy vs. Life Coaching 🧠

therapyvslifecoaching

“Maybe you should talk to someone”

You agree with the suggestion but then feel overwhelmed about next steps. Maybe you don’t want to see a “shrink” and you feel a sense of shame around managing your mental health. Perhaps you’re unsure of the level and type of care you need. Psychiatrists and psychologists are different in that the former is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication while the other is not a medical doctor, though they might hold a doctorate degree, and usually specializes in talk therapy. The term “therapist” encompasses those who are trained and licensed to provide a variety of treatments or to help rehabilitate people. So how is therapy different from life coaching? This guide will explain what each role and area excels in to help point you in the right direction.

The Benefits of Therapy & Life Coaching

Therapy is typically used to treat mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. It involves talking to a therapist about past experiences and current feelings in order to gain insight into the underlying causes of a person’s struggles.

Life coaching, on the other hand, is more focused on helping people achieve specific goals and objectives in their life. The coach works with the client to identify areas that need improvement and then creates an action plan for how they can get there. Life coaches often help people find clarity around their purpose in life and create strategies for achieving success in various aspects of their lives such as career, relationships, finances, and more.

When to Seek Support From a Therapist or a Life Coach

Therapy and life coaching are two very different approaches to help people reach their goals. Therapy focuses on understanding the root causes of a person’s issues, while life coaching is more goal-oriented and action-focused.

In the field of psychotherapy, many of the founders were focused on the patient’s background and childhood. Therapy is the appropriate place for getting a diagnosis and dealing with unconscious, repressed emotions and trauma from the past. Additionally, brain disorders, addictions (e.g. alcoholism), anxiety and depression, and personality disorders (e.g. narcissistic and borderline personality disorders) are within the purview of therapy. Looking into the past with therapy can be the place to start when people feel they cannot function in their lives or that their career, relationships, and other aspects of life just not working. These people might find it hard, if not impossible, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps much less pull themselves off the couch.

Outside of this, there are many issues that don’t require therapy in order to be solved. With life coaching, instead of being stuck in the story of the past, you’re creating a new narrative for yourself. There’s an analysis of your current state and then a distinct movement forward. Changing thoughts and behavior along with active problem-solving are involved. This person tends to be ‘functioning’ in life but they want to do, be, and have better. Support around optimizing and thriving to get to the next level is the name of the game. These people aren’t severely depressed and struggling to get out of bed; instead, they might be thinking of how to best structure their morning routines for increased productivity.

Think of functioning on a spectrum; there is non-functioning (which could include people with severe anxiety and/or depression, suicidal thoughts, or PTSD), functioning being more in the middle (being able to get out of bed and hold down a job, etc) and then thriving. Therapy can really help move from non-functioning to functioning. Life coaching can really help people move from a functional level to more of a next-level way of playing the game of life.

Therapy vs. Life Coaching: How do They Differ?

A therapist and a life coach are both professionals who can help individuals to make positive changes in their lives, but they do so in different ways. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • Training and qualifications: Therapists are trained mental health professionals who have a degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. They must also be licensed in order to practice. Life coaches, on the other hand, come from a variety of professional backgrounds and may or may not have formal training in a specific field. Some life coaches may be certified through a coaching program, but this is not required in order to practice. here is a responsibility for self-regulating and appropriately referring out clients who need therapy.

  • Approach to treatment: Therapists use a variety of techniques, such as talk therapy, to help individuals address and overcome mental health issues or personal challenges. Life coaches don’t “treat” anyone; they help individuals to set and achieve specific objectives, and may use techniques such as visualization, goal-setting and accountability to help their clients make progress.

  • Past-focused vs. future-focused. In short, therapy tends to be more past-focused and life coaching is more future-focused. Through focusing on the past, as well as present concerns, therapists can help individuals identify and work through underlying emotional issues. Life coaches, on the other hand, focus more on the present and future. They can help you develop a sense of purpose and satisfaction in work and life, resilience, meaningful connection with others, and create more joy and balance in life so that you can optimize fulfillment.

  • Scope of practice: Therapists are trained to work with individuals who have mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. They are qualified to diagnose and treat these issues. Life coaches, on the other hand, do not diagnose or treat mental health issues. They focus on helping individuals to achieve specific goals or make positive changes in their personal or professional lives.

Overall, the main difference between therapists and life coaches is the scope of their practice and the approach they take to treatment. While both can be helpful in making positive changes in one’s life, it is important to choose the right professional based on your specific needs and goals.

Where is your Motivation?

whereisyourmotivation

This writing is inspired by a conversation we had with a realtor last night. A man in his 50s, he had recently lost 12 lbs by “going to a gym and setting goals” for himself. He relayed how, unlike him, one of his female friends has struggled in the weight loss realm– “she texted me last night to say she’s ordering some microwaveable diet boxes sent to her home.” It was hard not to let a groan escape while protesting, “but a client just got off of that stuff and is losing weight; she can do it too!”

Why are some people successful – “I set goals and go after them” – versus those who set goals and 3 days later find their manifesto is buried under the mail on the coffee table?

It’s not like second group didn’t set goals (though typically the goals are too broad to be S.M.A.R.T. ) so why aren’t THEY able to implement them?

Over the years of working with clients, we have noticed a variety of factors playing into a client’s success in reaching their health and lifestyle goals. Readiness for change, motivation, creative problem-solving, dedication, contingency planning, and a willingness to make the financial and time investment for their health all can play a part.

Here’s another way to view motivation

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has created four categories people may fall into based on how they respond to internal and external motivators. These are the Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. In general, Upholders are motivated by internal and external factors; Questioners want to know what the rules are and why they should follow them (if the reason suits them, they will internalize this for action); Rebels flount the rules while seeking freedom and self-determinism; and Obligers respond to external expectations but not their own internal ones (i.e. the ‘manifesto’ mentioned above) and hate the feeling of letting someone down.

The Upholders we work with are very good executors of recommendations; they are energized by a list of recommendations and like to turn them into to-do lists which they can check off with a sense of accomplishment. They are motivated to not disappoint others (their healthcare provider, for example) and they tend to be very hard on themselves or feel upset when they don’t follow through on their goals or recommendations.

What we see most in our practice are Obligers and here’s what is typically related during the initial consultation:

“I have health issues and am aware of what I should be doing but I’m not sure why I cannot seem to follow through. I’ve been on soooo many diets. My neighbor went gluten-free and lost 20lbs, why can’t I? ” These people float in a sea of information but aren’t sure what to exclude/include, how to synthesize it….or the big one, how to take action in a sustainable manner. They are generally overwhelmed and feel a sense of shame over what they ‘should’ be doing.

As we work together, they enjoy aiming to be a ‘gold star’ client and they end up putting recommendations into place. They receive support when they ‘fall off’ the wagon and are reassured and encouraged to think of how to overcome obstacles to problems. They start taking better care of themselves – not just with food, but by taking time for exercise or reflection.

They are successful in reaching their goals because they have a nutritionist & health coach who understands what motivates them, provides longer-term support, guidance and accountability.

In fact, we are One Bite Wellness are dedicated to ‘walking our talk’ in this arena too. Many clients are surprised when we tell them that we have our own accountability partner and coach. “Well, you already seem to know everything”…..knowledge, as we’ve seen above, doesn’t equal action; having someone to share obstacles with and create sustainable goals, has proven invaluable. 

An important question to ask yourself: what is driving you? Is your motivation internal or external? Where do you fall in the categories mentioned above?

When you understand where your motivation stems from, you’ll have a key to knowing the next step to take towards your goals.