Do you know the difference between a life coach and a therapist?

I see so many people wonder about the differences between both professions. What’s more is that I often see them use the term interchangeably, which is wrong.

You might seek the wrong person for support due to this confusion. It will lead to little or no change in your life when you make this mistake.

For this reason, I am ending the ‘life coach vs. therapist’ debate by sharing my professional opinion.

Here is everything you need to know about both professions:

Life Coach Vs. Therapist: How Do We Define Their Roles?

Therapy and life coaching revolves around your mental and emotional wellbeing. These professionals are willing to support you and help you navigate through the rough patches of your life.

Through these interactions, you receive the guidance required to move on from stressors, trauma, and other problems that hold you back.

Let us have a closer look at what they do:


You often see the word ‘therapy’ thrown around in the aftermath of a traumatic event or life-altering phase. It could be anything from divorces, post-accident stress, abuse, or mental health problems.

Some people might need therapy to deal with underlying issues they never dealt with before.

Likewise, if a person comes in with mental health problems (i.e. depression, anxiety, anger management issues, etc.) then they follow a similar strategy. The only difference is that they don’t always know the source of these negative feelings.

Therapists use their expertise to address the patient’s emotional and mental struggles. They do this by digging deep into the past to find a source of this problem.

The therapist will equip you with the mental tools and coping strategies to deal with those overwhelming emotions better. This change is more internal than external. It helps you untangle your underlying mental health problems in a calm and collected way.

Besides this, licensed therapists need to complete their bachelor studies (and training programs). Without it, they do not have the authority to practice therapy and offer services.

Life Coach

A life coach focuses on motivating you to take action for your health, careers, wealth, and relationships. Their sessions are more result-oriented and hands-on. It is because they show you how to be proactive and overcome challenges. These obstacles could be goals you fail to meet independently.

Their primary goal is to push you to be the best version of yourself. They want you to be successful in all aspects of your life, whether in relationships or careers. You can also hire a life coach to lose weight or adopt a healthier lifestyle. It is all about transforming yourself to eliminate barriers that set you back.

They do this by developing action plans for your goals and aspirations. It is the aha-moment where you discover strategies that can lead you towards success and happiness. They also ask all the right questions to identify blind spots that inhibit your progress.

Unlike therapists, they don’t need a degree. Most life coaches get certified based on training programs and certifications.

The Major Differences Between Life Coaches and Therapists

a board saying ‘you’ve got this’

The best way to distinguish between life coaching and therapy is to understand their limitations and abilities. That way, you have a better idea of where you should go when you need professional consultation.

Here are the three significant differences between life coaches and therapy:

1.  Therapists Treat Mental Illnesses

Unlike therapy, life coaching doesn’t offer any cure or treatment. We cannot prescribe medication or handle mentally ill patients. This is where therapists come to the rescue. They have the expertise and knowledge to handle psychological problems and give the right advice.

They might even collaborate with a physiatrist before offering any form of supplement and pill.

On the other hand, life coaches do not directly deal with schizophrenia, ADHD, or other severe mental disorders. They might provide consultation to patients with these issues on matters associated with life choices and changes.

2.  Dealing with the Past vs. Planning for the Future

One major difference between life coaches and therapists is their action plan. Therapists often tackle traumatic events, childhood issues, and other events that occurred in the past. Then link those experiences with the present situation. The whole process is all about understanding how previous experiences shape the present.

Alternatively, life coaches focus on the future. They want their clients to come up with a result-oriented strategy that transforms their lives. They encourage growth by asking questions at the right moment. Additionally, they discuss future goals and aspirations to keep the client motivated.

The only time they deal with the past is when they want their clients to let go of those pent up emotions and feelings.

3.  Healing vs. Action-Oriented Approach

Lastly, therapists are often passive motivators. They want you to come up with your conclusions and ideas. The only encouragements they offer are through their facial expressions and subtle hints. They also give you mental tools and strategies to help you cope better.

In many ways, they give you time to heal and adapt to life after a tragic event.

On the other hand, life coaches want you to change your life for the better. They motivate you to become stronger, hopeful, and more confident than ever before. Also, they hold you accountable for what you do in life. This support allows you to stay on track and achieve everything you want.

Resource: Watch this video to learn how to hold onto hope.

Life Coach Vs. Therapist: Who Should You Choose?

In the end, when it comes to a life coach vs. therapist situation, you need to weigh in their advantages. Then look at how their methodologies influence your life. If you want to overcome past trauma by resolving your feelings, then therapy is for you.

Alternatively, if you need the motivation to move on with life, coaching is for you. With their assistance, you can hold yourself accountable for your mistakes and make an effort to do better.

Have you made your decision?

If you’re looking for a life coach, then look no further. I like to take my clients on a journey that is both personal and gratifying. We do this by setting goals and working on them together. I also share my story as proof that life coaching does have benefits and helps you get out of your current headspace/situation. It is possible when you trust your coach and allow them to lead the way.


Stay tuned for more articles on mental health, life coaching, and everything in between. 

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Share This

Share this post with your friends!