Do I Need A Life Coach Or A Therapist?

Do I Need A Life Coach Or A Therapist?

I know I need help but do I need a life
coach or a therapist? I’ll help you see the difference today. And yes, there is a
difference. I know because I’ve been both a life coach and a therapist. As a
professional psychologist, I’ve got some experience in both of those arenas. Let
me help to define for you what the difference might be. First of all, think
of your emotions, your mental health, your psychology your relationships. Everything
that makes up your experience basically. If we put that on a spectrum or a
continuum, clear over here on the left end of that continuum, is the sick end. So
that’s where we have diagnosis, pathology treatment, all that fun stuff is over
here. What’s on the other end? This is where I get kind of excited because on
the other end, well to understand that let’s go to the middle first. The middle
is health. Meaning not sick. You’d think that health is the opposite of sick
right? I’m just putting it in the middle to mean not sick. So you could be sick in
bad, fever, throwing up the whole 9 hours. There comes a time you can get out
of bed and you’re not sick. But that doesn’t mean you’re truly fit.
Thriving, prospering that’s over here on this end of the spectrum. Therapy belongs
over here on this end of the spectrum. It is for the purpose of diagnosing and
treating disease or disorder or problems. Coaching is on this end of the spectrum
and there’s some overlap in the middle. Okay, everybody’s got issues. Welcome to
earth that’s how we roll here. There’s a lot of issues however that we face in
our regular life. Stress, mild forms of depression or
anxiety, relationship conflicts, questions about life purpose.
That’s all middle of the spectrum and I don’t think it means that you’re sick.
Probably means that you’re human. So it doesn’t really fit well into the therapy
category. But it might respond really well to life coaching. So when we ask the
question do I need a coach or a therapist? The first distinction we want
to make is the pathology distinction. When I worked as a psychotherapist in my
psychology practice, I focused on this end of the spectrum. I would bring my
clients in give them a diagnosis. Work up a treatment plan, build their insurance
company for payment and see if we could work them along that treatment plan to
the point where they could get out of bed or no longer qualify for the
diagnosis. Well that’s about the same time the insurance company would pull
the plug and stop paying for services because it’s no longer medically
necessary. Well I knew, my clients knew that there’s
more. There’s so much more. We’ve followed principles that have got us up
to this point what would happen if we continued to work toward this other end.
Now it’s not therapy because it’s not medically necessary.
We don’t even qualify for a diagnosis at this point. That’s where coaching comes
in. Now I have a neighbor who keeps telling me almost insisting. Dr. Paul,
it’s the same thing. Well, not really. We may apply some of the same principles, we
may talk about some of the same issues, we may even engage in some of the same
activities. But it is not the same thing because of the focus and the definitions
and the way that that’s set up. Now here’s another difference and you got to
watch out for this you’re trying to decide, “Do I need a
coach or a therapist therapists?” People who work on this end of the spectrum are
licensed to do so by the state. There are certain industries and disciplines that
can qualify to become a therapist which is a licensed activity. You have to have
a license from the state in order to do therapy.
What about coaching? In most areas license is not required to do coaching.
Now that’s good news if you want to be a coach. It’s also the bad news because it
means that the whole industry is filled with people who’ve just decided they
wanted to do it, anybody can hang up their shingle as a life coach. You have
to go through some credentialing and training in order to be a therapist. And
so you have some assurances that if you’re on this end of the spectrum, if
you’re dealing with some mental health issues that need some competent care,
you’ve at least got someone who knows what they’re doing. Over here you don’t
have that kind of an assurance and so you have to be very judicious about who
you engage to assist you with coaching. Now the good news and the bad news are
the same thing. Anybody can get into the industry. That’s something that you need
to watch out for if you’re on the consumer end and you’re trying to decide
which one am I going to hire a therapist or coach. If you don’t want to diagnosis,
just realize that in most areas of therapy that is required and you will
probably get one. If you don’t want to pay out of pocket, you want to use your
insurance benefit that’s not going to be covered in coaching. But it might be
covered in therapy. So these are some of the distinctions that you might want to
watch out for. You might be wondering, “Dr. Paul why did you shift over from this
side over to this side? You know what quite frankly, it’s because I love it.
It’s because I get lit up about how people can create and live a life that they
love. I’m really good at the therapy end of things, I practiced it for almost 13
years. Doing therapy helping people to work through the treatment plan and get
to a point where they’re not sick and and I love that but not as much as I
love this. I love taking people from this point to where they can actually be. And a
coach isn’t the hero. You think about a sports analogy for example. The coach is
usually on the sidelines. Observing, pointing out or bringing to awareness
things that the players are the athletes or the performers can do in order to
reach a higher level of performance. A higher level of excellence or
achievement. That’s what a coach does. I’m like the guide on the side that helps
them to get out of their own way and go do their thing. Every one of us is
dealing with internal barriers. I’ve been able to use my experience in clinical
psychology to apply to this end of the spectrum over here and see some really
phenomenal results. It’s exciting to see that happen and I can even train other
people to do it, The sports analogy is actually kind of useful. When we think
about our emotions, our relationships, our goals, what it is that we want to
accomplish with our business or in our personal life? There are things that get
in our way. A coach can help us see that and get out of our way to move forward.
Just another final note, I have noticed as I’ve started to train and certify
coaches in my models that people who have experience over here. Therapists and
counselors and mental health professionals, already have a skill set
that is well designed to move them over to this end of the spectrum if they
choose to go that direction with their particular practice or career. The same
tools and skills and tributes can be applied on either end of
that spectrum to help people in some phenomenal ways. So the answer to your
question might be that you could use both. It might be that you could use a
therapist. That’s okay. It might be then a coach would be the perfect fit for you.
Maybe you weren’t even aware that this was an option for you. I want you to look
at the resources that are available at

Comments (5)

  1. Very honest and informative.

  2. Dr Paul,I feel like the coaching business is unregulated…. what kind of training/school does a life coach go through? How to properly choose one? What questions should I ask a prospect life coach? Thanks a lot!!:)

  3. Good video.. it’s still a taboo here….And it’s lovely to see you talk so openly about it… 💕🙏🏻

  4. Thank you Dr. Paul for your extraordinary Spectrum analogy. I think it is the first time I learned the difference this way.

Comment here