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What is a Life Coach? Coaching vs Therapy...

I read an amazing article by Madeline Miles that thoroughly explains what a life coach is and the difference between what a life coach does and what a therapist does.

I wanted to share it with you...

What is a life coach?

A life coach is someone who counsels and encourages clients through personal or career challenges. A life coach helps guide clients to reach their ultimate goals.

A life coach can help individuals in different areas of their life. But because each human being is different, so will their goals. Oftentimes, a life coach counsels clients in personal and professional arenas. This means career, personal development, relationships, nutrition, divorce, grief, and even financial wellness.

Sometimes, you come to a crossroads in life. It might come in the form of a quarter-life crisis or existential questioning. It might show up at the heels of a big career change or commitment. It might even present itself when you’ve already decided to start over in life — but you’re not sure where to go next.

In the past decade, the coaching industry has grown exponentially. According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), there are about 71,000 coaches worldwide.

But that’s the mucky thing about coaching: what is it? Is it therapy? What do you mean by life coaching? How do you know if life coaching actually works? How do you find a life coach that will help you reach your goals? Will coaching help improve your life?

Life coaching vs. therapy

Is life coaching and therapy the same thing? In short, no. But there are some similarities. While life coaching and therapy are both focused on improving people’s well-being, there are distinct differences. Therapists require certain educational and license prerequisites to provide mental health care treatment.

Coaching, however, is focused on personal and professional development. Coaches will help their clients build and utilize the right tools to reach their goals but don’t (and shouldn’t) offer clinical mental health care. Let’s dig into this more.

Life coaching

When comparing life coaching to therapy, here are some key differences:

  • Life coaches serve as guides through various aspects of your life

  • Coaching is focused on personal growth and professional development

  • Coaching can resemble talk therapy, though coaches are not certified therapists and can’t practice

  • Coaching focuses on achieving goals, behavior changes, shifting perspectives, and overall self-improvement

  • Coaches can help you improve your physical health, emotional well-being, and financial wellness

  • Coaching is not mental health treatment or clinical care

  • Coaches focus on sustainable, behavior changes rooted in positive psychology


Let’s take a closer look at key characteristics of therapy:

  • Therapists are trained mental health professionals

  • Therapists have education and license requirements to practice with clients

  • Therapists help you to understand your psychological patterns to change behavior

  • Therapists can diagnose and treat your mental health needs

  • Therapists can improve your mental health and emotional well-being through various techniques and therapy styles, like CBT, EMDR, and more

  • Therapists often work with your medical care team to help improve your overall well-being

  • Some (not all) therapists can prescribe medication for psychological and mental health conditions

7 benefits of life coaching

When it comes to life coaching, many effects or benefits of coaching come from social science research. We lean on social and positive psychology to help shape how our coaches work with our members.

If you’re thinking about life coaching, here are seven benefits to keep in mind:

  • Better self-confidence. A study by the IFC reported that 80% of people who hired a life coach reported improved self-confidence.

  • A growth mindset. A benefit to coaching is a shift in perspective. Think of this as a growth mindset. With coaching, you can expand and nurture your growth mindset.

  • Improved self-awareness. Research found that only 10-15% of people studied were self-aware, despite people believing that they are self-aware. But with coaching, you have a guide to reflect on your progress and your levels of self-awareness. Coaching can help you build your self-awareness muscle and ultimately, gain more confidence in knowing who you are.

  • Improved relationships and communication skills. According to the Institute of Coaching, your relationships will benefit from coaching. One study found that of those who participated in coaching, over 70% benefitted from improved work performance, relationships, and effective communication skills.

  • Better clarity and purpose. Coaches help people everywhere live with more purpose, clarity, and passion. Our data has shown that folks who take part in coaching report a higher sense of purpose and meaning.

  • Improved overall well-being. Coaching can also help improve your overall well-being. Our data also shows that a majority of people who start coaching in a “stuck” period get better. In fact, 77% will significantly improve their well-being state in three to four months with personalized support.

  • Lower stress levels (and better resiliency). The same data cited above shows shows the benefits of coaching are lowered stress levels and better resiliency.

To see the full article at BetterUp, please click the link here >>> What is Life Coaching & What Does a Life Coach Do? (

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