Life/Business Coaching versus Psychotherapy


A popular question I’ve been asked is, “What is the difference between Life Coaching and Psychotherapy?”.  Here in the Big Apple, Psychotherapy is very popular.  People are comforted by having a Psychotherapist to lean on as a source of clarity and support.  But Psychotherapy is much more than that.  It is a treatment of psychological problems typically caused by past traumas and/or experiences, or a biological imbalance. Its main purpose is to improve mental health and an overall sense of well-being.  A diagnosis and treatment plan guide the course of therapy services.  Health Insurance will pay for Psychotherapy.

Those practicing Psychotherapy at the Licensure level, e.g. Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Social Workers, etc. have completed at least a Masters Degree and two years full time supervised clinical experience, in addition to passing a national clinical exam.  The focus in Psychotherapy is on healing past & present issues that are interfering with current functioning.  In a successful Therapeutic relationship, the client will have resolved those issues which are detrimental to optimal functioning and a positive sense of well-being.

Life Coaching is solely rooted in the here-and-now, and the future.  An assessment of current strengths, wishes, challenges, and energy drainers determine the direction of Coaching.  It is a dynamic, collaborative relationship in which the Coach and Coachee are equal partners in the process of change.  The Coach uses inquiry, visioning, open ended questions, and listening skills to stretch and empower the Coachee.  Exploration of values, preferences and unique perspectives leading to a new way of thinking and being are encouraged.  Through this experience, the Coachee identifies personal and/or business goals, and the pathway to achieving them.  The Coach keeps the Coachee accountable to staying on target and moving forward with weekly check-ins.  In a successful Coaching relationship, the Coachee will meet their goals and move forward to an improved way of being.

The Coaching profession has a variety of Certifications, but not Licensure.  Some argue that it began as an established profession sometime in the 1980’s.  In the mid-1990’s, organizations such as the International Coach Federation developed a code a ethics and standards of practice for Coaching.  The National Board of Certified Counselors recently established the Board Certified Coach credential.  It requires a Masters Degree in Counseling/Psychology and a National Board Certified Counselor credential to qualify.  Since there is no license for Coaching, anyone can call themselves a Coach.  Before you hire a Coach, be sure to check out their credentials and experience.  Coaching styles and expertise vary like the colors of Spring.

*For more information on Psychotherapy, visit my website HeatherEdwardsPsychotherapy.com


About Heather Edwards

Heather Edwards is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Coach, & National Certified Counselor. She is a frequent contributor to Psychology Today. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling, corporate and life coaching.

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