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  • Jeannie Scott

Do you need a life coach, or do you need therapy?

Therapists and coaches are both invested in helping you better yourself. But there is a common misconception that life coaching is therapy in disguise - or worse - that it's therapy from an unlicensed practitioner! It isn't. And here's how to find out which service is best for you.

I think everyone should have access to therapy. I think everyone should have access to a coach. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have both. But they’re not interchangeable.

A lot of people get coaching slightly confused with therapy. After all, they can, at first glance appear similar. Especially in the mindset and life coaching spaces. However, neither should be used in substitution for the other. Especially using coaching as a substitute for therapy. Life coaching is an unregulated profession. Yes, there are organisations like The International Coaching Federation that certify coaches (like myself). However, any Tom, Dick, or Harry could call themself a coach and start charging you money for their service. So please, just be aware of this. It’s worth doing your research when you decide you’d like to work with a coach. Make sure they are the right one for you, and if possible have certifications or qualifications in the modalities they are using.

Okay, sorry for the tangent. I just wanted to make that very clear to you, so that you can make the best decision for you, when it comes to choosing a coach.

So, what is coaching not? Coaching is not therapy.

If you are struggling with your mental health, however severe, a therapist can help with diagnosis and assessment. A therapist has completed over 3,000 hours of supervised practice and is bound by ethical codes that govern their conduct. They can help you if you’re struggling to manage your mental health.

Typically, a therapist might help you gain greater understanding of your past and how that has affected how you’re feeling right now. And help you develop the skills to cope with your mental health.

Generally, the clients that I have worked with, who went to therapy first, had greater awareness of themselves and felt more safe and secure in the process.

A coaching partnership (life coaching, empowerment coaching, mindset coaching etc.) on the other hand, is all about empowering you to reach your fullest potential. The coaching relationship works off the basis that all of the answers that you need to reach that potential are already within you.

Now you might be thinking: ‘Um…Jeannie, I don’t think so. If I had all the answers then I wouldn’t need a coach, right?”

Well, not exactly.

The responsibility of the coach isn’t to write down all the answers for you so that you can copy their homework. The responsibility of the coach is to empower you to recognise that everything you want is already within you.

Yes, there may be some mental roadblocks stopping you from seeing them right now. But those answers are there!

So, a coach will guide you through a process, using powerful questioning and various modalities to empower you to discover those answers for yourself. Because if you can tap into that inner resourcefulness, then when the inevitable roadblocks of life start showing up, you’re not crippled by them. You’ve been empowered to continue to move forward and continue to take action. Whereas if your coach had just given you a step-by-step blueprint of what worked for them, you might find that further down the line that particular strategy doesn’t work for you anymore.

Coaching, whilst it may occasionally encourage you to move through healing events of the past, focuses on the future. It’s about taking action and moving forward.

And if you’re still unsure about whether coaching or therapy are right for you now, ask yourself this:

“Am I ready to start taking action and moving forward with my goals, even though I hold some fear and resistance right now?”

“Or, do I feel so overwhelmed by my mental state that even the small daily tasks of life feel unbearable? Does my mental health overshadow everything in my life right now, that I cannot even think about future goals?”

If you answered the first question with a ‘yes’, then coaching might be right for you at the present time.

If you answered ‘yes’ to the second question, then I would encourage you to seek some help with a mental health practitioner before starting to work with a coach. Your mental health is most important. Working with a coach can be challenging and you want to make sure that your mental health is managed before you start.

I hope this was helpful for you!

Click here to find out more about what coaching with me looks like!

Keep kicking ass and taking names from the comfort of your sofa!


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