Many times people asked me what is the difference between a Life Coach and a Therapist. In fact, the lines are quite blurred, and it depends on what people define a therapy.

Is it the difference between going deep into who you are with your values and unconscious patterns, or behavior change and goal settings? Is it past problem oriented or present-future solution driven?

A therapist spends a lot of time in the past understanding and bringing to the conscious level of the patient the core issue of a behavior or a pattern. The therapist would work with profound illnesses but can also help with open level concerns.

In the other hand a coach will spend fewer sessions in the past problem, he only needs to define it and point at it, then spend time in the present, setting goals and coaching his client to overcome limitations with a future-oriented approach. A coach reveals the client’s values and strengths to help him take control of his life and make the necessary changes to become happier. With using NLP(Neuro Linguistic Programing) a coach can do much more than that, he can go deeper to the unconscious level to provoke tangible changes.

See How Therapists and Coaches Differ

  1. COACHING is an educational, discovery-based process of human potential.
    THERAPY is based on the medical model that says people have psychiatric maladies that need to be repaired.
  2. COACHING focuses on self-exploration, self-knowledge, professional development, performance enhancement and better self-management.
    THERAPY seeks to heal emotional wounds.
  3. COACHING takes clients to the highest levels of performance and life satisfaction.
    THERAPY seeks to bring clients from a dysfunctional place to a healthy functioning level.
  4. COACHING rarely asks about your childhood or family life.
    THERAPY continuously explores early childhood, family and relationship issues.
  5. COACHING uses the terms blockages and obstructions to denote what needs to be removed.
    THERAPY uses the term “pathology” to describe the “patient’s” issues.
  6. COACHING focuses more on the present and future.
    THERAPY focuses more on the past and present.
  7. COACHING advances the client’s potential.
    THERAPY “cures” the patient.
  8. COACHING is used by people who already are succeeding, but who want to succeed even more and at a faster rate.
    THERAPY is used by people whose lives are not working.(b)
  9. COACHING focuses more on thoughts and behavior and how the client acts and thinks about things.
    THERAPY focuses more on emotions and how the client feels about things.(c)
  10. COACHING comes out of the human potential movement and the performance world.
    THERAPY has its roots in the medical model.
  11. COACHING focuses on solving problems in the now.
    THERAPY explores the historical roots of problems.
  12. COACHING works with the client’s conscious mind.
    THERAPY focuses on bringing the patient’s unconscious mind into awareness.(d)
  13. COACHING focuses on creating the future.
    THERAPY seeks to heal the past.
  14. COACHING seeks to bring more power, control and joy to the client.
    THERAPY focuses on removing the client’s pain.
  15. COACHING assumes a co-equal partnership between coach and client.
    THERAPY assumes the therapist to be more of the expert, and in control.
  16. COACHING has strategies and objectives.
    THERAPY has a treatment plan.
  17. COACHING asks “What is next?”
    THERAPY asks “Why”?
  18. COACHING helps clients design their lives.
    THERAPY resolves issues.
  19. COACHING takes an active, energetic approach.
    THERAPY takes a more passive, reflective, background approach.
  20. COACHING focuses on what is possible.
    THERAPY focuses on what is the problem.
  21. COACHING is goal-oriented, solution-focused and results and action-oriented.
    THERAPY mainly seeks to increase patient insight, yet some therapists are solution-focused.
  22. COACHING may also utilize feedback from bosses, peers, and subordinates.
    THERAPY usually involves only the patient and therapist.
  23. COACHING takes the client from where they are and helps them move forward.
    THERAPY examines unfinished emotional business from all stages of life.

N.B. NLP Coaches can act like therapists in some points like in 2, 8, 9, 12 and 18.

As a conclusion, I would say that we can be all coached whether it is to overcome limitations, negative self-talk, gaining confidence or simply reaching a goal. We will all need a Life coach at some point, and we don’t necessary need to have a broad issue for that.