This question has come up a lot in my private practice over the last few weeks, so I am enlightened to share some information. If you're on the hunt for a therapist, you might be no stranger to the very informative website psychology today. Here you find many therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, spiritual healers; you name it, we're there! You may have heard of the Hollywood buzz stars such as Tony Robbins, Gabby Bernstein, and Lisa Romano. Or perhaps your style is to support someone local. Maybe you've read reviews or seen their content on social media. Either way, there are lots of people and perspectives to consider.
"What is the difference between therapy and coaching?" While both are beneficial, services can vary depending on the person you are seeing. Therapy or Counselling can address issues from the past and help you process events you've experienced. Coaching can help you build the skills required to solve problems facing your future head-on. Not all therapy or counselling uses medication and psychoanalysis to treat problematic mental health issues. While there is an absolute purpose for those models many people don't think they are "sick enough" for help.
The biomedical model assumes that mental illnesses are part of brain abnormalities. This focus of treatment often relies on medication therapies and talk therapy solutions. This model requires the client to work hand-in-hand with a psychiatrist because psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists are not regulated to provide medication treatment. Some examples that this therapy model might be helpful for would be someone who needs support managing Bipolar Disorder, Severe Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Suicide Ideation, Or Schizophrenia.
Highly popular due to its efficacy therapy approach is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This modality focuses on the correlation of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. More than modifying behavior, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps people to reframe their thought patterns, evaluate their current thinking styles, and challenge their limiting beliefs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually structured with goals for a specific outcome and can last for up to 16-20 sessions. CBT is often used to treat (but not limited to) Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sleep Disturbances, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Stress, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
This perspective looks at each human being as the expert in their own life. A humanistic perspective fosters the principle that each person has their way of looking at their world and how their decisions impact their life. This modality helps people reach their full potential and maximize their well-being. If you were looking for someone to show you unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness, this perspective might be right for you. People who benefit from the Humanistic Perspective may have experienced traumatic events, chronic health issues, grief, relationship difficulties, or depression.
Here's where my biases might come into play. Holistic Counselling looks at the mind, body, and spirit as a whole. The holistic approach aims to reveal the subconscious patterns by connecting them to the infinite intelligence of the body. After all, the body never lies. Holistic Therapy can borrow from other modalities such as the Humanistic Approach and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The one differentiating factor with Holistic Counselling is that it helps people connect to who they are. Living in a busy culture with schedules, phones, jobs, social media, stress, worry, chaos... you get my point! At some point, we have forgotten who we are as a spirit on the planet. We have become disconnected from our essential being, and Holistic Counselling helps fill the gaps and connect you to your inner spirit. Holistic Counselling is suitable for anyone willing to look inward. It requires an open mind perspective. It can help balance the body for those experiencing anxiety. It dives into the belief structure of depression. Reprograms post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, or any mood-related disorder. The humanistic approach to Counselling is also suitable for anyone who is not in crisis. This approach can help someone identify common themes in their lives and create a satisfying and fulfilling life. Working with the subconscious mind is a process, and when you can take full responsibility for your life, magic happens.
A life coach can help you get out of a funk and move your life from struggle to success. Depending on what your needs are, a life coach can help you strategize and create an actionable plan to move forward in your life. Most life coaches work with specific themes. For example, Lisa A Romano, A beautiful soul in the field, works with the codependent narcissistic relationship. Tony Robbins works with anyone who's looking to heal and has a life coach a mastery program. Most life coaches I've been where you are, they feel the struggle, and they've made a life out of helping people get out of the struggle.
How do I choose??
There are two differentiating factors from Therapy to Coaching that stand out. Therapy can be covered under specific health insurance plans, which means that the money you spend can be reimbursed (partially or fully). Secondly, Therapists or Counsellors belong to a regulatory body that protects you, the public, from malpractice. When deciding to spend your hard-earned money on health, you want to make sure that you choose the person that's right for you. Often we get stuck in fear and back out of paying for help for ourselves. On a side note, I get it. I want to drain my bank account and Max the credit card to join a program. I had nothing financially, and I was feeling emotionally spent and exhausted. That investment was a "profit in all ways" investment. I started making conscious decisions, I learned to align with my values, and somehow money just kept showing up. When I stopped using all of these "check out methods" to cope with feeling overwhelmed, I made a conscious choice to spend money on healing rather than a six-pack here or there, shopping, Amazon, take out, and so on...
When you're choosing someone to work with, consider choosing someone that's in alignment with you. Learn the difference between fear and discord. Ask yourself what does fear sounds like, what does it feel like, how does fear feel in my body? Discord happens when something is out of alignment. Think of an old guitar that needs to be tuned. If you're experiencing discord, then likely your actions are out of alignment with your values. For example, if you value health and wellness but eat junk food, take out, and smoke cigarettes (all I have done!). See if the person offers a complimentary call and asks questions. When it's over, sit with yourself and tune in to your inner knowing. Do you feel supported in their energy? Can you see yourself learning and growing with them? Why or why not? Healing is a journey of exploration and discovery. All you have to do is show up...
Asking for help is tough, especially if you have tried in the past and it's left you with a sour taste in your mouth. I hope this has given you a different perspective on therapy models and addressed the difference between getting help from a coach and a therapist.