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The Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist

Everybody needs a little help sometimes. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s so easy to move too fast and forget to pay attention to ourselves.

Now more than ever, people are turning to therapy and life coaching as a means to come to terms with themselves and fix the issues that are stopping them from being truly happy. And this is a wonderful thing.

Everyone has heard of therapists and many people have heard of life coaching. There are many misunderstandings about what a life coach is and what they do. People worry that by seeing a life coach, they are putting themselves in the hands of an untrained professional.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Life coaches are a perfectly viable option for people who want to move towards a goal and aren’t sure how to start.

Are you hoping to give yourself the gift of counseling but aren’t sure which one is the right choice for you? Do you want to know more about the differences between a life coach and a therapist?

Read on to find out more!

What Is A Life Coach?

A life coach is a person who helps a person figure out what their personal goals are and helps them to achieve them.

They do this by providing a client with a service. This could be either a short-term service or a long-term service, but it is geared towards an action-based plan of action.

A life coach is not a healthcare provider or a medical professional, though many of them go through popular training programs and unofficial certifications.

What Is A Therapist?

Therapy, or psychotherapy, is a long-term process. It’s where a client and a healthcare provider work together to resolve traumas and change bad habits.

A therapist can help you heal the relationship you have with yourself and others and can help you work through painful feelings.

Therapy usually focuses on the past, introspection, and analysis.

Which Is Right For Me?

The best way to determine which professional is better for you, it’s best to get a better idea of what each of them does for specific issues. Here are a few of those to consider.

Past vs. Future

One main way to determine whether you’d be better off seeing a therapist or a life coach is where you feel like your issues are.

If you have a lot of trauma from your past, if you’re dealing with previously unresolved pain, or if you’re looking to make sense of things from your childhood, you’re likely looking for a therapist.

However, a life coach is a practice of the here and now. A life coach can help you work through what you are currently doing in your life and whether or not that’s cohesive for a healthy, happy future.

Trauma Care

Therapy is the appropriate avenue for you if you have severe depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, trauma, or are dealing with the after-effects of an assault. Coaching is not an option if you’re looking to substitute for therapy.

It’s a therapist’s job to help you resolve these issues. They can set up a treatment plan for you for any symptoms you’re experiencing. They can also refer you to outside help if medication is a resource you’d like to consider.

However, there’s no reason why you can’t be in therapy and have a life coach at the same time.

A life coach can help you build and use skills in real time. These skills could be incredibly helpful in healing.

Level of Functionality

A good rule of thumb for determining whether you need a life coach or a therapist is your level of functionality.

If you or your loved ones notice that you are having a hard time maintaining a relationship, going to work, taking care of yourself, or just otherwise dealing with your day to day life, a therapist is your best bet.

These are the sorts of things that a life coach won’t be able to help you with as effectively as a therapist would be.

But, if you don’t see an issue with the way you’re currently functioning but would like the tools and skills to function even better, call a life coach.


Life coaches are great options for people who are already in therapy or people who have attended therapy in the past. When you have had a successful relationship with a therapist, you are more likely to know exactly where the issues in your life are.

When you have that level of self-awareness, you can help a life coach help you. They can give you the additional push you need if you feel stuck.

Active Direction

Therapists aren’t there to tell you what to do with your life. That’s just not one of the things they’re supposed to do. They can give you clues, they can give you ideas, and they can guide you in the right direction, but they won’t be able to tell you exactly what you need to do.

A coach, on the other hand, will tell you what to do and then hold you accountable for doing it.

Specialized Help

There are specialized branches of therapy, like child therapists or marriage counselors. But when you find a therapist for you, they aren’t necessarily there to just help you with one aspect of your life or your trauma.

A therapist will talk through all of it. Your past, your feelings, all of your specific traumas, and your desires. It’s important for a therapist to do this so they can help create a complete treatment plan for your healing and recovery.

A life coach comes in different varieties too, but they’re even more specific. There are career coaches, relationship coaches, financial coaches, happiness coaches, and a whole list of others. There are general life coaches as well, but if you’re looking for zeroed in help in one specific area, look for one that specializes in what you need.

Achieving a Specific Goal

If you are dealing with broader issues, like depression, trauma, or mental illness, a therapist is a right option for you.

However, if you’re hoping to accomplish a specific goal, like a better relationship with your children, advancing in your career path, or being more organized at home, consider a life coach.

Are You Ready?

There’s nothing wrong with going to a professional for help. That’s what they’re there for. 1 in 5 adults in America have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans.

Whether or not you think therapy is the right answer for you, consider a life coach. There are online options if coming face to face is too difficult or impossible for you to do right now. Either way, life enrichment is available to you!

If you’re ready to take the step to improving your life through coaching or therapy, contact our team here today.

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety.


Naya Clinics is a top-rated Marriage Counseling, therapy and Life coaching practice.

Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world.


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