How Do I Know if I Need Counseling or Life Coaching?


The focus of mental health counseling or psychotherapy is the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, nervous, and behavioral conditions.

The goals of psychotherapy include alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying dynamics which create symptoms, changing dysfunctional behaviors which are the result of these disorders, and developing new strategies for successfully coping with the psychological challenges which we all face.

Most therapists and counselors use evidence-based therapy techniques to help clients reach specific and mutually-established treatment goals.

Most research on psychotherapy outcomes indicates that the quality of the client/therapist relationship is most closely connected with therapeutic progress and positive results.

Psychotherapy patients are often emotionally vulnerable. This vulnerability is increased by sharing very intimate personal information and exposing feelings about themselves. Often, their past life experiences have made trust difficult to achieve.

These factors create unequal power in the client/therapist relationship that creates a responsibility by the therapist to protect the safety of their clients.

This is why counselors, psychologists, and social workers must be licensed in most states to provide psychotherapy.

Life Coaching

The focus of life coaching is the development and implementation of strategies to reach client-identified goals of enhanced performance and personal satisfaction.

Life coaching may address specific personal projects, life balance, and/or improving the general conditions, performance, and satisfaction in the clients life related to professional, financial, spiritual, physical, social, and emotional success.

Life coaching utilizes personal strategic planning, values clarification, brainstorming, motivational interviewing, and other solution-focused techniques.

The relationship between the coach and client is collaborative. The client sets the agenda and the success of the enterprise depends on the clients willingness to take risks and try new approaches.

The relationship is designed to be direct and challenging. You can count on your coach to be honest and straightforward, asking powerful questions and using challenging techniques to move you forward. Life coaches are not required to be licensed or certified, so educational and training levels vary.

Life coaching is generally not suitable for clients with untreated mental health issues.