Updated: Aug 10, 2022
If you’re struggling with your well-being or you’re feeling anxious, you might think getting some help is the best option–and it often is! If you’re feeling stagnant in your life and you’re not sure where to go, it’s also a good idea to reach out for help.
However, when you’re not exactly sure where to reach, it can make things more confusing and frustrating. It can be especially difficult when you’re not sure exactly what you’re feeling or who might be able to help.
It’s not uncommon for people to turn to life coaches or therapists, but they are two very different professionals who can help in different ways. Understanding those differences will make it easier for you to decide where you should turn.
So, do you need a therapist or life coach? Let’s break down the differences to help you make an informed decision.
When to See a Therapist
Therapy focuses on mental health. If you’re struggling with things like anxiety, depression, or you’re having a hard time getting through a stressful situation in life, a therapist can likely help. Not only will a therapist help you get to the root cause of your mental health concerns, but they can provide solutions that benefit emotional healing.
Therapy also typically focuses on the past and present. That isn’t to say you’ll never talk about the future or set goals. But, you’ll spend most of your time with a therapist talking about things you’ve already gone through or working on ways to feel better about your current situation.
Finally, therapy can be a long-term thing. Many people see therapists for years and rely on them to maintain balance in their mental well-being. That isn’t usually the case with life coaching.
Simply put, if you have concerns about your mental health or you’re struggling to manage your emotions, therapy might be the best option.
When to See a Life Coach
Life coaches don’t have mental health training like therapists. They aren’t equipped to diagnose conditions like anxiety or depression and typically aren’t who you want to see if you’re dealing with a mental health issue. Instead, you should see a life coach if you’re feeling “stuck” or somehow uncertain about your future. Life coaches will help you understand your goals and what you want to achieve. Then, they’ll help you develop a plan to reach those goals.
Maybe you deal with a lot of negative self-talk and hold yourself back from what you really want in life. A coach can make it easier to silence that inner critic and start achieving your personal goals.
Unlike a therapist, life coaches tend to focus on the future. There might be occasions when they dive into your past or present as a resource for looking ahead. However, they’re most interested in helping you look forward.
If you tend to have a hard time finding motivation or holding yourself accountable, whether in your career or personal life, a life coach can be a great resource to jump-start your motivation and help you progress.
Finding the Help You Deserve
As you can see, there are some significant differences between life coaches and therapists. While there are also some overlapping characteristics, it’s important to know where to turn to get the help you need and deserve.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of these two professions to make the best decision to fit your needs. Each title has a lot to offer, but don’t forget where you are, what you’re dealing with, and where you want to be when making your decision.