Coach or a therapist which do you need? I had a therapist and I am currently a professional life coach specializing in dating and relationships and I can tell you there is a simple difference between therapy and coaching. It’s important to understand that both are great resources and the fact that you love yourself enough to research this stuff says a lot. You will be fine. Keep reading! Since I have experience with therapy and coaching, I’ll break it down for you.
Therapy usually involves a psychiatrist or psychologist and it focuses more on the “why” behind your arrival to your issue. Therapy explores your past, your childhood, your relationship with parents, traumas anything that may have interfered with a stage of your early development. Therapy is also a necessary option for people who are dysfunctional. For example your physical well being is impacted or when a sound, a thought, a place, even a scent sends you into a wave of depression or anxiety affecting your ability to function, a therapist is who to see.
When I hired my therapist I did so because I couldn’t function. After my divorce and subsequent rebound relationship ended, I had sunk into a depression with a side order of anxiety. After 3 weeks of zero, and I mean zero appetite, living on yogurt, chocolate milk and soup, I went from 125 pounds to 113. I couldn’t sleep soundly and had trouble focusing on anything. I wasn’t myself.
One day while walking my dog I heard the sound of a Ducati motorcycle, which is what the rebound boyfriend had. The sound triggered what felt like a heavy dull pressure in my head followed by shortness of breath and then incredible sadness. I started to cry right there on the street holding my dog’s leash and remember saying, “oh my God what did I do to myself?” I knew I needed professional help. I needed to understand what specifically sent me into the anxious, depressed mental state I was in. I sought out a highly recommended therapist in New York City who would meet with me via Skype.
Luckily I didn’t need medication (a therapist can evaluate this a coach cannot). I just needed to understand once and for all what my self-defeating patterns were so that I can change them. After about 3 weeks of speaking to a therapist, I learned that I was (at the time) codependent and the reasons for my codependency. Again, therapy is all about the why.
When I hired my therapist, I did so with the intent to be done with therapy within 12 weeks (90 days). I had committed to sorting myself out. During this time, I started to coach myself and didn’t even know it. I dove into the self-help world, read books and found tons of free “self help” content on YouTube.
I really immersed myself in studying Law of Attraction and created an all-star team of gurus that included Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Margaret Paul, and several others. I also went to an amazing acupuncturist who helped me achieve a state of relaxation that allowed me to manifest a beautiful conversation with my inner being otherwise known as…Source!
After two months, I started to feel myself getting stronger and knew I’d be forever changed. I became more curious and excited over my unknown future that I get to create than a past I couldn’t do anything about. This was when I knew I didn’t need therapy anymore. I was myself again, just a wiser, more badass, 100% self-loving version of me.
By the third month, my therapist suggested I get a master’s degree in psychology because as she put it, I had a gift. When she explained I’d have to work treating people with severe mental illness to complete my studies I instinctively I said, “no, I’m not a therapist. I’m a coach!” I knew I wanted to help people but I also knew I wanted to help them create their future.
The best combo is therapy for understanding the “why” then coaching for forward motion. People remain in therapy for years rehashing their pasts. Then they wonder why they remain stuck. The coach is who gets you unstuck.
The coaching I do is rooted in Law of Attraction making the recurring theme a focus on what’s wanted as opposed to justifying what is based on what was. When a coach listens to someone’s past it’s to gather information and gain understanding for the things that may prevent them from manifesting what they want.
A coach helps you to appreciate the present as you envision and strive for the awesome future you can create.
I’ll share a personal example. When I was married, my then husband and I went to couples therapy. It helped us understand why we found ourselves in trouble but it didn’t give us any tools to achieve any lasting positive change. I felt like all we did was talk about the past and I left the sessions feeling exhausted, like a victim and my husband felt ganged up on. Not good and not at all what coaching is. In fact if you’re in a marriage with issues and someone in the relationship is reluctant to going to couples therapy, suggest a relationship coach.
A lot of couples don’t want to re-hash the past. Plus they need to raise their energy and shift from problems to possibilities, from what is to what’s wanted. Coaching, at least the way I do it, calls for talking 100% responsibility for your own happiness. It calls for total love of self first, most, and always and then from that place of power, love flows outward to another. There is forgiveness, the joint decision to be happy as opposed to right and the swift move towards unconditional living and loving. Coaching accomplishes this.
Rule of thumb, if you want to understand why you are the way you are or make sense of a trauma or any mental issue that is negatively impacting your mental and/or physical health, hire a therapist. If you are healthy but find yourself stuck in life thinking, ok I’ve been through this, that and the other so now what? How do I create the life I want despite my past? What do I want out of life? How do I attract love, a great job, get promoted, or start my dream business? How do I remain accountable and move towards what I want? When you find yourself asking those forward-moving types of questions, that’s when you hire a coach.