Since I hear this question often, I can offer some general distinctions that may help the decision-making process. If a person is in survival or recovery, psychotherapy is appropriate. A client needs support and direction to achieve stabilization and this requires more reliance on a therapist to structure a plan to achieve this. Often this includes addressing the past history that is impacting their current life. The client doesn’t yet have the resources developed or in place to function constructively and independently. After stabilization occurs, a period of recovery time is necessary to integrate and solidify changes that lead to constructive self-care and coping. Criteria for a mental health diagnosis are presented by the client for health insurance eligibility.
Life coaching assumes the client is creative, resourceful and whole. Thus, while they may present a challenge or desired change to address in their life, they are capable of setting and achieving goals, and have self-motivation and insight to identify and follow through with strategies that achieve that outcome. There is a collaborative relationship with the client rather than a reliant one, and the focus is on the present and moving forward in their life. Coaching provides a structure in which to gain different perspectives, strategy and accountability towards progress, pleasure and greater life satisfaction. There is not sufficient criteria for a mental health diagnosis; coaching is not covered by health insurance.
Life coaching picks up where therapy has met completion, and a person is interested in greater self-development, relying on their inner strengths and resources to continue to enhance their quality of life.
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