During my teens, when I was dealing with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder, I began seeing a therapist. I went to several over the years, and they helped me develop coping skills and gain control over my mental health. Then, last year, I started seeing a life coach, who helped me figure out the next direction for my career, relationships, and personal development. Both therapists and life coaches have been valuable to me for different things, depending on what I needed in life — which made me wonder, what exactly is the difference between a therapist and a life coach?
"Therapy and coaching both facilitate change in people and assist them with gaining perspective on their problems," Sharon Saline, PsyD, clinical psychologist and author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life, tells Bustle. "They’re like cousins, sharing some traits but using different approaches. Therapists take a holistic perspective that includes your overall care — emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health. They must be licensed to practice, following years of university study and internships, in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health conditions and disorders as classified in the DSM V. Coaches are not mandated to be certified, but many complete courses and training for certification. They rely more on a wellness model aimed at people without significant mental health issues and offer a more educational process."
Wondering which is right for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.