How to Choose Between a Life Coach or Therapist

You may be wondering, “What is a Life Coach?” The question you have is not an uncommon one, but the role is becoming more and more of a respected profession. In the past five years I’ve experienced a sudden death in the family, a sibling with a brain hemorrhage, a divorce, a niece with cancer, and several cross-country moves. Even writing this makes me take a deep breath in and out (feel free to do the same).

Although this seems overwhelming to experience, somehow I survived. Many people wake up each day and experience multiple traumas, and I keep asking myself, “How? How do you they do it?” Then I ask myself, “How am I doing it?” My first thought was, “I have no idea,” but the longer I thought about it, the more the answers became clear.

Throughout my former relationship and separation, my ex and I did long-term, extensive marriage and individual therapy. It was very helpful, but it only tapped into our psychological behaviors and our childhood experiences. After several years, of struggling, a decision was made, and we parted ways. I continued to see a therapist, but just felt like I was spinning in circles. She offered techniques, books, and poems to help me put my experience into words, but I still felt like something was missing. I walked away from each session wondering if this was what I needed.

Around this time a colleague explained how his friend just started Life Coaching, and he thought we’d really connect. I was very intrigued and thought that this may be exactly what I need. I called her, and we had instant chemistry, as if our worlds aligned. She provided a sense of encouragement that my therapist could not. I stopped going to therapy and started speaking with Morgan Northway each week. I quickly saw a change in my attitude, behavior, and confidence. She was and is my life encourager. She had a plethora of books, meditations, words of wisdom to offer, and most importantly, that she practices herself. We connected through both being raised in the mid-west but being Southern California transplants, and constantly feeling the pull home, especially when family circumstances are challenging. She understood me. She helped guide me in the darkest times of my life (or so I thought at the time). Just when I thought it couldn’t get darker, I learned my niece had cancer, who lives five states away. But I knew I can get through this because I have a life encourager, I have Morgan.

A Life Coach, in my experience, will not judge you or give up on you. I believe that I’ve made it through the ups and downs, because at the end of the day, my life coach holds me accountable to what I’d like to accomplish. My life coach helps me to discover my best self, because she cares. She teaches me to breathe, knowing that no matter what, I can rely on my spiritual beliefs and developed skills to get through anything.

Here is my perspective on the differences between a Life Coach and a Therapist:

1. If you have a support deficit, Life Coach’s help take the burden off your few close friends (especially when you have multiple traumas happening at once), and therapists aren’t as able to reciprocate personal experiences because of the professional standards, making it harder to speak from an empathetic place.

2. You are the driver for what you want, and your Life Coach helps you reach your goals, while holding you accountable to the steps along the way. In my therapist experiences, the focus is on past relationships, and environments, to help you understand why you made the decisions and how to make healthier decisions moving forward. I appreciate this but also want to learn how to be and live in the present more, making decisions from a calm and empowered place, especially in the midst of chaos.

3. The biggest difference is encouragement. Often times, Morgan will remind me of how far I’ve come. How much progress I’ve made in accomplishing my goals. I’ve only experienced this with 1 out of 3 therapists, and I’ve learned that it’s something I need and value.

I encourage you to find out if a Life Coach is what you need. Whether it’s therapy or life coaching or something else, empower yourself to get the guidance you desire or need.

How do you know whether you should see a life coach or a therapist? What is the difference?

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