What’s the Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist?

Is life coaching really therapy in disguise? 

Or is it just treatment from an unlicensed practitioner?


Life Coaching is actually a unique service that helps people with this, such as 

  • reaching specific goals and outcomes
  • helping them feel more fulfilled and confident
  • Making better decisions about themselves and their lives
  • creating a successful future

I’m not new to the coaching or therapy world. I have my doctorate in physical therapy. I’ve been a licensed and practicing healthcare professional since 1992. I discovered the value and benefits of life coaching, so I became certified in 2006. I have used my training to help patients and clients rehabilitate their bodies and minds. 

Basically, I know what I’m talking about. 

But what’s the difference between life coaching and traditional therapy?  I’m glad you asked. 

What’s a life coach?

Life coaches are trained to help identify hurdles and problematic behaviors, habits, or patterns so that you can gain clarity around your current situation.  Together, we create new ways to achieve your goals. 

Life coaches lovingly observe, listen, and spend time with you.  They never compare, shame, or judge you; instead, they offer their heart to help you get out of your own way and live a fulfilling life. 

Life coaches can help you uncover the deeper reasons you may sabotage your success and discover new ways to be yourself.  

There are many different life coaching certifications available these days.  My focus is on holistic coaching to address your health, fitness, self-care, relations, career, mindset, and connection to something greater. 

What’s a therapist?

A therapist provides mental health treatment to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Therapists are licensed healthcare professionals and are required to have a college education. They are trained in psychology, social work, counseling, psychotherapy, and other related fields.  

Therapists focus on helping people identify and understand the underlying issues that may be causing distress or preventing them from achieving their goals.   They analyze their past to understand their present behavior. 

How are life coaches and therapists similar? 

Life coaches and therapists focus on helping their clients improve their life. They both value your history and the experiences you’ve had. They help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. 

Both types of professionals can help people work through challenging personal issues, set and achieve goals, and make positive changes in their lives.  We both intend to help you create a powerful positive outcome.

How are life coaches and therapists different?

Life coaches and therapists share some similarities, but they also have their own unique functions. 

Therapists are typically licensed and insured professionals who have undergone years of schooling and training in psychology and understanding how the brain works. 

Therapists are generally concerned with helping you identify the psychological issues from your past that are cueing challenges in your present day.   Life coaches help you change your situation for a better future. 

Therapy sessions are often unstructured and guided by the clients. Life coaching sessions typically have some structure because you are focused on strategies, learning new habits, and behaviors to promote transformational growth in all aspects of your life. 

Life coaching helps you create your future, while therapy works on fixing something from the past.

Which one is right for you?

It doesn’t need to be an either-or situation.  There are times in my life when I have worked with both therapists and coaches.  I’ve benefited from the two aspects and insights into my everyday life.  

When I was in college, I started seeing a therapist for counseling. I was a freshman and didn’t know how to cope with being alone in the big scary world.  I had some difficulties keeping up with my physical therapy program. I was struggling with ADHD and had to rethink how I was doing everything.  My therapist helped me overcome the emotions from my past and how I had a dysfunctional childhood.  

You’ll want to see a therapist if you are healing from trauma, addictions, and other deeply rooted issues. If you struggle with other stressful life events that trigger you, you’ll want to see a therapist. 

If you want clarity around your habits and behaviors, you’ll want to find a transformational life coach (like me!) to guide you through. A coach will help you improve your decision-making ability, boost your confidence and self-esteem, and help you relearn how to navigate your adult life with more empowering self-talk. They may help you create a new self-care routine, workout or yoga program, mind-body techniques, stress, or time management. 

Whoever you work with, the changes will be long-lasting. 

Want to transform your life into the extraordinary future you deserve?

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About Denise Morrison

I’m a licensed and certified health care professional with over 30 years experience in healthcare, wellness, fitness, physical therapy, yoga, NLP, TLT, hypnosis and mind-body practices.

During my career I’ve seen too many women struggle with self-doubt and fear leftover from their past, making them stuck in their health, happiness, and success.

This is why it’s my passion to help you discover and release any of your limiting beliefs, old stories, and unconscious obstacles so you can finally know, trust and value yourself and confidently make decisive action to create your most fulfilling life.

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