What is a life coach vs therapist?

If you are considering changing your lifestyle for the better, talking to someone on the outside of your life can be very beneficial. Therapy or psychotherapy and coaching are two expert services that have assisted numerous people live their best lives, but they are often confused, as there is a great deal of overlap between each of these professions. So, what is a life coach vs therapist?

What is a life coach vs therapist

What is a life coach vs therapist?

Here are some important distinctions between coaching and therapy to help you determine who might be more appropriate to assist you along your journey.

Therapists address mental illness whilst life coaches do not

One of the most crucial distinguishing factors between psychotherapists and coaches is that psychotherapists are skilled to help individuals who are facing mental illnesses, and coaches are not.

Even though a great deal of stigma exists around mental illness, mental health problems are more common than ever, affecting about one in four in the course of their lifetimes. So when it comes to what is a life coach vs therapist, this treatment of and diagnosis of specific conditions is a very important distinction.

If you are looking for help for a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychotherapy is the ideal solution. However you may also consider treatments such a hypnotherapy. Alongside these approaches, a life coach could be useful for goal setting and motivation.

Past verses future orientation

Generally speaking, coaching is more centred on helping you achieve your future goals, whilst therapy is likely to have more of a past and present focus. That being said, many coaches should certainly help you discover how the past contributes to your present, and psychotherapists can help you accomplish your future goals. As a coach and therapist, I try to help people do both, be that using CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) life coaching or hypnotherapy.

For sure, the attention in therapy is more centred on healing from the past, whilst the focus when seeing a life coach is more on getting you to where you wish to be next.

What is a life coach vs therapist hypnotherapy

Differences in payment

Because therapy is often about treating a mental health problem, it usually is covered by your insurance company if you fulfil the requirements for a mental health disorder diagnosis and the insurance company deems psychotherapy medically required to assist you to get better. Unfortunately seeing a life coach is typically not covered by health insurance because the focus of coaching is not on treating an illness.


In order to legally provide therapy such as psychotherapy, a therapist requires an advanced degree and a professional accreditation with an organisation such as the BACP to practice. To acquire a license to practice psychotherapy, a therapist needs to meet certain standards which include an assessment and a certain number of supervised hours of practice.

While there are many certification programmes to become a life coach, there are no governing boards for life coaches. Despite a lack of a governing bodies in the field of life coaching, many life coaches offer wonderful services and some originally practiced as psychotherapists. For sure training and accreditation is a major difference when considering what is a life coach vs therapist is.


Therapists in practice face more restrictions than a life coach. In particular, in terms of where and how they are able to offer services. A therapist must be licensed in the country in which they practice, for example, whilst a life coach can work throughout the whole country and internationally. Psychotherapy is more traditionally offered face to face in an office, whilst a life coach frequently will provide sessions online, over the phone or even maybe in a local café, if quiet and suitable. Even so, some therapists offer services over the phone or via the internet and some life coaches have offices in which they see clients. As mentioned, some life coaches choose to meet with clients in a public setting, which is rarer for psychotherapists.

The above differences are generalisations and do not apply to all therapists and life coaches. In reality, the differences between two psychotherapists or two life coaches may be more significant than the difference between a life coach and a fellow therapist, depending, of course, on who they are and their backgrounds.

What is a life coach vs therapist? Final thoughts

If you are not clear on how to choose or whether to see a therapist or coach, call up a few and interview a few potential coaches or therapists from each profession. You can ask them about their approaches, fees and any other questions you have. I offer hypnotherapy and also I am a life coach. I offer therapy sessions and always open to a call to explain more about session. Click here for more about my life coaching sessions.