Therapist or Coach
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Coaches are becoming more common in the helping profession. It's important to understand the difference between a coach and a therapist, so you can be sure you're getting your needs met and know what you're signing up for.
WHAT THEY OFFER
People hire life coaches for a variety of reasons. They may want help with a specific problem the coach has expertise in. They may want to increase fulfillment, build a more desirable life, or change specific habits. Coaches typically work in a time-limited fashion, setting specific goals with you and working on them for a set number of weeks or months. You may then evaluate whether to continue working toward additional goals, or to complete your coaching relationship and move on with your life!
Work with a therapist often lasts longer than work with a coach, as the problems bringing one to counseling are often more complex. Therapists are usually well-versed in working with doctors and can help coordinate care with your psychiatrist. If your needs are focused more on mental health, PTSD treatment, or extreme difficulties in functioning, you will need to work with a therapist instead of a coach.
CREDENTIALS AND SUPERVISION
At Grow, our coaches are overseen by licensed therapists to ensure they are helping you meet your needs in professional and effective ways. We select and hire coaches who have unique skills and life experiences making them highly capable of guiding others along a journey of growth. Each coach develops their own learning plan helping them develop counseling skills and make sure they are becoming better helpers every day. You can trust our life coaches are driven to helping you succeed and equipped with the tools and accountability to effectively do so. At present, there is no standard licensing or credentialing board overseeing and regulating coaches. If someone does say they are a "Certified" coach, this may mean they have gone through a private training program offered by any of thousands of companies selling coach training programs under the tagline "Become a life coach". This does not necessarily indicate their ability to help you reach your goals.
Therapists have, at minimum, a master's level education focused on specialized training in mental health needs. They have broad training in a wide variety of mental health concerns, and may have more specialized training in their area of expertise. They are licensed and overseen by a state regulatory board which limits the services they provide, making sure they work within their defined scope of practice and do not form relationships with clients outside of counseling work. To become a licensed therapist, they must complete their professional degree which includes hands-on clinical experience; then spend a set number of years and professional work hours under the supervision of a more experienced licensed therapist before becoming independently licensed. They must then maintain continuing education hours in accordance with their professional license guidelines. If you ever have a complaint or concern, there is a formal process through the state board to file for review. Therapists also must maintain professional liability insurance to cover expenses in the event of a malpractice lawsuit.
HOW THEY'RE TRAINED
Coaches help you increase motivation, prioritize goals, build confidence, and explore options to improve your life. They work out of perspectives built from their own life experience and understanding of the world, and help you define your own needs through the lens of your experiences. At Grow, our coaches also receive training in risk management, coaching techniques, and strategies for helping you with specific problems.
Therapists also help with many of the same things coaches do. Additionally, they are able to diagnose and treat mental health conditions. They may be trained in specific evidence-based practices for mental health diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, trauma, substance use problems, and many more. Therapists often specialize in particular areas of mental health. Therapists address your problems predominantly through theoretical training within their model of choice. This model may be informed by their life experience, but they are trained to work with theory first, and personal experience second.
CAN I HAVE BOTH A THERAPIST AND A COACH?
Absolutely! Many people work with a therapist for specific mental health issues, while using a coach to help with motivation and willingness. It's important for your therapist and your coach to be aware you're working with both. Often they will want a release of information so they can communicate about their goals and make sure they're not giving conflicting information. At Grow, we are particularly fond of this approach as it helps you meet your needs more quickly by working with a team.