What’s the Difference Between a Coach and a Therapist?
Updated: Aug 22
Therapists are educated and trained in the fields of psychology and medicine. Psychiatrists are medical doctors. Some therapists can prescribe medication. Coaches practice in their areas of expertise based on their experience and education.
Generally, the primary difference between a therapist and a coach is that therapists tend to focus more on the past or present while coaches tend to focus more on the present and the future.
As a coach, I help people learn the red flags of narcissists so that they can avoid them in the future. I teach them coping strategies and how to trust again. I help people work through their toxic relationships and get started on their healing journey.
You should consider therapy if you have a mental health concern. Therapy uses techniques like psychoanalysis to gain insight into your past. If you need help getting “unstuck” in your current situation, coaching may be the better choice. Coaching focuses on setting goals, creating a strategy to achieve them, and helping you build a positive mindset to achieve them.
But above all, you need to be able to work with this person whether they’re a therapist of a coach. You need to be compatible and harmonious. This is someone you’ll be spending an hour a week with for a while. You need to be able to trust this person. You should find both inspiration and comfort in this person and they should be easy to talk to.
You should always prioritize someone who has experience working with people who have experience or even specialize in the are you are seeking help with such as anxiety, depression or narcissistic personality disorder. You wouldn’t call a real estate lawyer if you’re arrested.
Working with a coach who has experience and education in the areas you have a problem with makes the whole process more efficient and more likely to succeed. Coaches don’t have to have a certain education or certification like therapists. This means basically anyone can call themselves a coach. It’s up to you to check them out, google them, and ask for references.
Coaches are going to push you more than therapy. Therapy is a work in progress with an undetermined end date. Coaching works towards a goal in a specific time period. Coaches hold you accountable.
Regardless of which you choose, just know you are taking a positive step forward for you. Talking to someone is imperative to your mental health. Do what makes you feel comfortable and positive. You are in control of you. Make yourself a priority.