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When Therapy is Actually Life Coaching

Understand how and when therapy is actually life coaching.

And which one is right for you.

If you’ve ever been confused over the difference, there’s a good reason why.

Therapists are notoriously bad at explaining what they are actually doing to help people.

And I was no exception.

Because, until I started to learn about marketing, I really had no idea how to tell people what it is I do to help them.

To be honest (embarrassing self-disclosure) I didn’t think I needed to be able to tell people how I help them.

I just knew that the people who came to see me generally felt helped.

And I thought that was enough. (I told you it was embarrassing!)

So, aside from being pretty grandiose, that attitude doesn’t really help you decide if you need therapy or life coaching.

And it doesn’t really help you determine if I’m going to be able to help you with your trouble either, now does it? And YOUR needs are the important ones in this relationship.

So here’s the deal.

Therapy is Often Actually Life Coaching

First, there is a LOT of overlap.

Second, unless a therapist is working with you using only something called “client-centered” therapy, or they are doing “classic” psychoanalysis, they will be life coaching you sometimes.

By the way, practically no one still does “classic” psychoanalysis. And no therapist I know is truly capable of strict “client-centered” therapy. They can’t help themselves from coaching you sometimes.

The reason a therapist will be life coaching you unless they are doing those aforementioned specific types of therapy is this:

All therapists teach you physical and mental self-regulation and self-improvement tools and shepherd you through the process of making those new skills your own.

That is life coaching.

Plain and simple.

Personal trainer and client

Think of Therapy As Mental Health Personal Training

Some therapists may even “ride” you the way a sports coach does. Though most operate more like personal trainers.

So, like personal trainers, therapists meet with you regularly as you learn and put into practice the skills they teach you. But they don’t harass you.

The Difference Between Life Coaching and Therapy

The difference between a therapist and a life coach is that if, or when, you don’t do what you’re told, a real therapist will never fire you for failing to work the program. (No, not because they just want to keep taking your money! But it might feel that way unless they can explain why they’re continuing to work with you.)

life coaching

A life coach will fire you when they run out of ideas for how to motivate you. Or when they get tired of seeing how insight does not help you overcome your lack of motivation. And a therapist who is a life coach-in-disguise will fire you for the same reasons.

life coaching

But a well-trained therapist will do more than simply teach tools, provide interpretations, and help you reach insights to aid you in understanding what is keeping you from achieving your goals.

When all else fails, a therapist will begin to use the relationship to help you get what you want out of life. (And they will have been making notes about what’s going on with you in the relationship department all along.)

And I’d be happy to explain what that means, but that’s a blog for another time. Because it’s very complicated, and only matters when you aren’t using (or can’t make yourself use) the tools you have been taught.

Life Coaching is Often Sufficient


The reality is, anyone can be a life coach.

It’s an unregulated title.

Some are better than others.

And anyone can get a degree and state license and be titled as a licensed therapist but only do life coaching.

And to be fair, that’s just the way therapy has gone due to insurance companies. So, therapists are simply surviving in that system. Making deep, life-altering therapy nearly impossible, even if they believe in it. Which many don’t.

But real, deep level, life-altering therapy that requires the ability to use the therapy relationship to help someone enjoy their life at the most fundamental level possible for the rest of their life is what therapy has to offer that life coaching doesn’t.

Lucky for you. Many of your problems can be solved with life coaching.

So hooray for life coaching!

And if you want some (life coaching or deep level, life-changing therapy),

Call me. We’ll talk.

Leah Benson Therapy icon
Contact me now to set up your free 15-minute phone consultation.
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