Though many people view life coaching as a form of therapy, it is explicitly not. The two varying fields provide different services, geared towards different clients. Both therapy and life coaching are seen to be beneficial to patients, but both worlds are seen to have their cons. Below are our deep findings and methodology.


  • Well-known Life Coach Tony Robbins states that a big misconception of life coaching is that it is therapy in disguise, or that it is therapy received from an “unlicensed practitioner”.
  • He continues stating that it is a separate service geared towards helping ambitious achievers arrive at outcomes for further success and fulfillment.
  • Clinical psychologist Sharon Saline has dubbed both therapy and life coaching as important, encouraging change and allowing persons to gain perspective on their issues.
  • Therapy takes a more comprehensive stance looking at persons overall emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health, while life coaching relies more on a wellness model geared towards a specific mental issue or goal.
  • Therapists are trained to deal with mental illnesses and disorders and as such should be the method of choice when dealing with depression, anger management, past trauma, anxiety, among others.
  • According to Dr. Charrow, life coaching is the assistance with goal achievements for driven individuals. She also states that, while life coaching can be therapeutic, it is not therapy. Psychotherapy uses the past to understand and resolve issues for persons to comfortably exist in the present. Life coaching, however, is more focused on the future, working towards positive goals, habits, and skills.
  • Dr. Charrow states that, while therapy is focused on why, coaching focuses on how.


  • Therapists are individuals trained to deal with patients who suffer from mental illnesses. They are also well versed in areas of addictions, phobias, sleep problems, and personality disorders, further being able to aid in issues surrounding child behavior, relationships, and parenting.
  • According to an article found on Inc, written by a therapist, therapists are also able to provide patients with further resources to help in recovery. These include access to support groups or psychiatrists who can administer medication.
  • Psychotherapy, according to an article by therapist Rachel Lee Glass for Psych Central, provides ongoing support helping to heal deeper, long-standing issues.
  • Therapy provides deeper self-knowledge and awareness than life coaching and may also include relapse prevention skills.
  • Therapists are held by law to keep their client information secure and private, allowing people to feel more comfortable in expressing their feelings and thoughts.
  • Many acting therapists are however seen to be fairly ineffective, with patients having months of these relationships with no improved behavior or feeling. Some therapists do not use evidence-based forms of therapy, with some states not stipulating regulations for therapy practices.
  • Mental health and therapy have a stigma connected to it, causing people to deny its existence and not seek out the necessary help.


  • Life coaches focus on issues such as financial management or weight loss, helping people reach a specific goal. They help address issues right now, and may also help people tackle the clutter in their lives.
  • Life coaching is seen to deliver faster results with more maintaining a person’s motivation.
  • Life coaches tend to be way more flexible than therapists and may allow meetings to take place at the park, coffee shop, or your home instead of in an office.
  • Tony Robbins speaks about life coaching involving a client working with a non-healthcare professional, to identify obstacles and behavioral patterns that might be holding them back to achieve the preset goals.
  • Therapist Rachel Glass writes that life coaches are seen to implement the use of outside sources such as articles, journal writing, and more in their treatment practices. This opposes psychotherapy which focuses mainly on the speaking interaction between patient and client.
  • Life coaching is seen to be an expensive venture as it is not supplemented by insurance as is seen with therapy. As such, there is a greater upfront cost.
  • Life coaches do not need any professional training, experience or credentials to practice.
  • Many therapists don’t recommend life coaches as the only method of mental security as they are not trained to diagnose or treat mental illnesses. Though there are laws that support life coaches not practicing in the therapy field, many still do which is considered dangerous.
  • Many life coaches think they are able to treat people based on mere reading they have done, and in many cases cause more damage. As such therapists have suggested when using a life coach to do extensive research, look for certain certifications and recommendations that can be found.
  • The filtration process of hiring a life coach can also be very tedious due to the lack of credentials needed. These people tend to take a long time sifting through persons who do not fit the proper certification they want.
  • The lack in credentials may also garner a lack of trust between patient and coach as true intentions cannot be seen. This may cause a person to sink deeper into their issues.


  • Therapist Rachel Glass speaks on many clients not benefiting from traditional psychotherapy and supports life coaching in persons who do not suffer from mental illnesses and do not benefit from traditional talk therapy.
  • Growing Self has seen to implement a program that fuses the two worlds, providing what they call “coach-y counselors” for their patients.
  • This unifying of the two fields is seen becoming more popular now with more trained therapists such as Dr. Charrow, also seeking out certification in life coaching.
  • Dana Shavin, is also another such therapist, seeing the benefit of both therapy and life coaching for varying clients, but specifically believing in the future focus of coaching over therapy.
  • Though no set training has to be done to become a life coach, certifications are present, and patients can look for persons with those to have a better outcome.
  • Dr. A.J. Sturges is a therapist who is seen to actively incorporate life coaching into his service, recognizing the value in the service.
  • NOTE: Many trained therapists including the ones featured in this paper are now seeing the importance of having some life coaching skills to better enhance their practice and brand.


To conduct our research, we visited the personal web pages of experts in life coaching and therapy fields, expert blog and news web pages, and social media websites. In visiting the personal web pages of the professional life coach Tony Robbins, therapist Jason Connell, and therapy agencies such as Guy Counseling and Growing Self, we were able to find the differences in therapy and life coaching. These web pages provide articles that show both the pros and cons of both services, with Guy Counseling further showing how one of its therapists is unifying both. Growing Self also speaks of their inclusion of “coach-y counselors” as a way of uniting both services for the benefit of their clients.
We further examined blog and news articles found on Medium, Bustle, Psych Central, and Inc. All highlighting the pros and cons of life coaching and therapy. Medium shows the view of a long-time therapist now changing towards the acceptance of life coaching, while Inc and Bustle show the benefits of both services depending on the goal of the client. Psych Central provides an article written by an accredited therapist, highlighting the pros and cons of both services and the differences in the clients for both.
We also visited social media web pages including YouTube and LinkedIn to further get the opinions of professionals in the field. From this, we could find a video as well as a blog article, both from accredited therapists, speaking on the benefits and setbacks of both therapy and life coaching.

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.


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