These days, more and more people are turning to professionals for guidance and support to navigate life’s challenges. Whether you’re feeling stuck in your career, struggling to achieve your goals, or grappling with personal issues, seeking help from a professional can be a valuable investment in your well-being.
However, with so many different types of professionals and approaches available, it has become a bit challenging to know which one is right for you.
Life coaching and manifest coaching are two approaches that have gained popularity in recent years. Sometimes, people assume that lifestyle coaches can provide mental health treatment and help them address emotional or psychological issues. While coaching can be beneficial for personal development, often anything significant such as trauma, relationship, career, and mental health concerns requires specific training and expertise that only therapists possess.
In this article, we’ll explore coaching vs therapy, so you can make an informed decision about which approach is more suitable to your needs.
What is Life Coaching?
Life coaching is a personal development approach that aims to help individuals reach their full potential and achieve their goals. A life coach is a (sometimes) trained wellness professional who advertises specific skills that supposedly help individuals identify their goals, create actionable plans, and develop the skills and mindset necessary to achieve them.
Life coaches are not healthcare professionals. Therefore, becoming a life coach doesn’t require any specific formal education or license. This means anyone can become a life coach with the necessary training regardless of their work experience or degree. Any person can market themselves as a coach, even if they have no experience helping others.
Life coaches can help clients in a variety of areas, such as career advancement, relationship building, personal growth, and achieving work-life balance.
What is Manifesting Coaching?
The basic principle of manifesting coaching is quite similar to that of life coaching – to help individuals reach their goals and achieve success. However, manifesting coaching takes a more spiritual approach to personal development.
In fact, manifest coaching is based on the idea that individuals can harness the power of the mind and the universe to bring about positive changes in their lives. (Have you heard of the movie, “The Secret” ?). People who perform this practice believe in the law of attraction, which states that positive or negative thoughts can bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. Therefore, their main purpose is to help individuals achieve and obtain their desires.
Like life coaching, manifesting coaching does not require formal education or license, and anyone can become a manifesting coach. However, it’s important to note that while some studies have shown that life coaching can have a positive impact on work performance and well-being (e.g., Wang et al., 2022), the effectiveness of coaching in achieving desired goals is not backed by any scientific evidence. Manifest coaching can be seen as a wellness practice that can help you feel good while working on goals–but it is not a reliable source of changing your life.
Who Are Professional Therapists?
Professional therapists are healthcare professionals who specialize in helping individuals manage and treat emotional, mental, relationship, and behavioral issues. Therapy is a short or long-term process that aims to help individuals process irrational thoughts, regulate emotions, change maladaptive behavior, or resolve past traumas. However, therapy can also help with career, relationships, behaviors, achievement of goals, and mindset as well. If therapists are trained to help with the worst problems, you better believe that they can help you with other life issues as well.
To become a professional therapist, one must have a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology, social work, or counseling (plus a bachelor’s degree). In addition, therapists must undergo extensive training and supervised clinical experience, including completing an internship or residency. They must also obtain a license to practice in their state or country. After that, most licensed therapists have to practice for at least 2 years under the supervision of another therapist before they are independently licensed.
Therapists and counselors are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders using evidence-based methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other therapeutic modalities. They have a deep understanding of human behavior and psychological functioning and work with individuals to identify the root causes of their issues and develop effective coping skills.
In contrast to coaches, therapists are trained to work with individuals with a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction. Numerous scientific studies prove the long-term effectiveness of different types of individual, group, or couple therapy (e.g., de Jong & DeRubeis, 2018; Karyotaki et al., 2016; von Brachel et al., 2019).
5 Differences Between Coaches & Therapists
1. Qualifications & Experience
One of the main differences between coaches and therapists is the qualifications and experience required to practice in each field. Anyone can call themselves a coach without any formal training or oversight (or even any experience). Therefore, the quality of coaching services can vary widely, and it’s hard to determine the coach’s level of competence and expertise.
On the other hand, becoming a therapist involves a significant investment of time, money, training, supervision, and effort. In fact, the profession of a therapist (Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, or Marriage and Family Therapist) requires a degree in a mental health-related field, such as psychology, counseling, or social work, followed by clinical training and supervised practice. A typical graduate program in mental health can take 2-3 years to complete, and graduates must then complete several thousand hours of supervised clinical practice before they can obtain a license.
This extensive education and training ensure that therapists have the knowledge, skills, and ethical standards necessary to provide effective treatment for mental health issues. In addition, therapists are required to attend “Continuing Education” classes of up to 40 hours every two years–of certified classes. Life Coaches have no requirements of education or continuing education or training or supervision.
2. Scope & Length
Therapists work with individuals with mental health diagnoses, relationship issues, life-transition difficulties, trauma, significant stressors, or specific psychological problems and focus on helping them heal and overcome their symptoms. In contrast, coaching is focused on helping individuals who want or need guidance in achieving specific goals or making life changes. Therapists can also help people achieve goals, but the selling point of a coach is they can “make your dreams come true.”
The typical length of therapy and coaching is also different. Therapy can be a short or long-term process that aims to help individuals process and overcome mental health issues–or personal, relationships, and career goals. While this requires an extended period to address deep-rooted issues, coaching, on the other hand, is a more short-term and goal-focused process, focused on achieving specific goals.
3. Healing vs. Goal-Setting
Another key difference between coaching and therapy is the focus of the work. Therapy is primarily concerned with helping individuals heal and overcome psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues. Therapists also work on helping people heal from trauma and find joy in their lives again. Therapists also help people improve relationships as well. Therapists work to address the root causes of these issues and provide evidence-based treatments to help individuals recover and achieve psychological well-being. Therapists also can help people identify their strengths and work toward goals.
On the other hand, coaching is typically focused on helping individuals achieve specific goals and make positive changes in their lives. Coaches help clients figure out what they want in life and work on methods to achieve that–regardless of the barriers. While coaching can also have positive effects on an individual’s mental health and well-being, it is not designed to treat mental health disorders. And honestly, there is no guarantee a coach knows what they are doing to help you achieve your goals.
4. Evidence-Based Techniques vs Personalized Approaches
Specific techniques used by therapists are indeed the most significant factor that differentiates mental health treatment from life and manifest coaching. Therapists use evidence-based techniques that are clinically proven to help individuals overcome specific mental health issues as well as improve their lives overall.
For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used to treat anxiety and depression, while Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used to treat trauma. These approaches are based on psychological theories and scientific research and have been proven effective in treating specific disorders. Most importantly, these evidence-based techniques are continually refined to ensure that they are effective in treating specific mental health issues.
Unlike this, life and manifest coaches use techniques such as visualization, affirmations, and goal setting that aren’t often based on scientific evidence. They typically develop specific approaches based on their personal experiences or spiritual beliefs to help individuals work toward their goals.
5. Focus on the Past & Present vs the Future
The final difference between therapists and coaches is their focus on the past, present, and future. Therapy often focuses on the past and present, examining how past experiences and current behaviors affect an individual’s mental health. The reason is that therapists help individuals identify patterns and triggers that contribute to their mental health issues. Once these issues are more resolved, therapists will help a person focus on what they want in their future.
However, coaching is typically focused mainly on the future and helps individuals identify their goals and work on various personal methods to achieve them. Coaches aim to help individuals develop new behaviors to support their personal growth and success. Their purpose is to help individuals realize their potential and get closer to their ideal vision of themself. Therapists also do this, but therapists often focus first on the “hidden barriers” most people have in their lives. Once those barriers are removed, it is easier to achieve goals.
Final Thoughts on Coaching vs Therapy
In conclusion, both coaching and therapy can be beneficial for individuals seeking support in different areas of their lives. Coaching can be helpful for individuals who want to achieve specific goals or make changes in their lives. However, if you’re struggling with mental health concerns or past traumas, seeking the help of a licensed counselor is crucial for your well-being.
At Health for Life Counseling, we offer a range of evidence-based therapies to help individuals overcome mental health issues. Our professional therapists have the necessary education, training, and experience to provide personalized support and care to clients.