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Coaching vs Therapy

Which is right for you?


It is important to understand that coaching is not and should not be the same as therapy.

In Canada, clinical training is required to call yourself a counselor, psychotherapist, or psychologist. Misuse of these terms can result in legal consequences. The highest level is a Psychologist, which requires a Master's Degree. Psychotherapists licensed mental health therapists and licensed clinical social workers do require a Masters's Degree as well as clinical training.  

Some of the tools used by a Coach are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Therapeutic Art, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), hypnosis, and other psychological techniques with their clients. These are "therapeutic" options which mean it benefits the body or mind and increases wellbeing. Using these tools is helpful to a coach, however, it is not the same as conducting "therapy" as a clinical therapist would. 

The Boundary Between Coaching and Therapy 

A Life Coach can use therapeutic and psychological tools to help with: 

Change your thinking.

Increase your emotional wellbeing.

Change limited belief systems.

Reframe past experiences.

Set and achieve goals.

Make life changes.

Increase motivation.

Learn a new skill.

Change self-identity

In general Life Coaches are Present and Future-Focused. Life coaches help their clients explore their past only as a means of understanding their current life experience and belief systems. Our primary goal is to help our clients look at where they are, where they want to be, and how to get from point A to B.

A therapist may also help with the above areas of your life, but they also help their patients with:

Treat mental illness, PTSD, clinical anxiety, or depression. 

Heal past traumas.

Cope with traumatic loss.

Cope with abuse.

Treat addiction or substance abuse.

Cope with relationship turmoil or violence. 

In general, Therapists are Past and Present-Focused. While a therapist may work with clients to set goals and make changes, primarily clients come to them to seek assistance with healing trauma, overcoming abuse, treating addiction, or treating mental illness. 

Because therapists have a specialized graduate degree in clinical training, they have an extensive foundation of knowledge about the mind, biology, and human behavior. They are qualified and experienced to handle the volatile nature of these illnesses. 

A coach has a moral and professional obligation to refer clients to seek therapy if the issues fall outside the scope of their coaching practice. Coaching and therapy can be done effectively at the same time. 

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