The difference between life coaching + therapy

difference between life coaching and therapy

The biggest differences between life coaching and therapy (mental health professional to psychotherapy) are schooling and certification/licensure.

What does that mean for you? And why am I telling you this?

I am a certified life coach and received my training in a year long program in Atlanta, GA, however MANY of my colleagues have not had class the first.

A life coach is not required to have credentials (yet) because it is not regulated, but I think that will slowly change.

But in order to call yourself a mental health counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, there are many checks and balances: college, state board exam (per state), continuing education credits. They are also licensed to diagnose a disturbance or disorder.

For some people, this won’t matter because a particular life coach feels right to them, he/she has a strong social status or they have been referred.

As long as you are safe and get the results you are seeking, then I have no argument.

It is the no regulation that sets off alarms for me that makes it potentially dangerous situation for you depending on what you are facing at the time, because so much that is unsaid is assumed.

Please do you due diligence, ask questions, vet the person you are entrusting your thoughts and emotions with. Yes, ask for the receipts.

My main questions are will the life coach know what to listen for to refer you to someone with a higher skillset? And, does he/she have a code of ethics that supersedes their ego in helping you?

If you are curious about why I became a life coach, my coaching style and why you should or shouldn’t coach with me, please click here.

I have experienced traditional therapy, group therapy and life coaching. Personally, I prefer life coaching in the way I was trained (a mix of present while looking at my past for behavior patterns), but I can probably also say this because I have the foundation of traditional therapy to have a grasp on what makes me tick. I hope that makes sense.

Enough about my professional opinion and personal share, let’s get into why you here:

Life Coaching

The model of coaching is self-initiated motivation, actionable and outcome based. The emphases in a coaching partnership are on action, accountability and follow through.

Empowerment is a huge part of this kind of coaching because it allows people achieve mastery in their personal and professional lives.

People seek out the help of a coach because they want to experience change and they desire to shorten the learning/pain curve. Great coaching and mentorship happens through collaboration, offering a different perspective and holding space for their clients’ ultimate goals.

Mental Health Counselor

A mental health counselor can specialize in a specific group of people who face similar issues.

For example, people dealing with loss and grief would be someone a mental health counselor may want to help. Some counselors or therapists work with children, teens, couples or families.


The role of the (psycho) therapist is dealing with dysfunction, diagnose, conflict and healing emotional pain within the individual.

A therapist generally focuses on helping resolve immediate issues that are affecting their client’s life.

The focus is often on resolving issues/difficulties coming from a past time that is limiting an individual from functioning appropriately in the present, improving overall psychological functioning and dealing with life in more emotionally healthy ways and possibly change their worldview.


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Fonda Clayton is the founder of 5D Self Mastery, a community based platform for those who are ready to own their sovereignty and embody their Sacred Wholeness. She helps women recognize that splitting themselves into pieces and parts of themselves is disempowering and will always have them looking outside of the self for validation. Fonda is a Certified Life Coach, Polarity Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, published author, podcaster and Mother of Personal Freedom.

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