Life Coaching or Psychotherapy?

Dr. Larry Cohen (856) 352-5428
 

Personal and professional coaching continues to gain ground as the best way for individuals to motivate and move forward toward meeting life goals. I am often asked which is better – coaching or psychotherapy? The two seem similar, but, as I briefly outline below, they are very different.

Psychotherapy is a method of treating mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. At its core, psychotherapy focuses on alleviating or resolving the symptoms of mental health disorders. Clients are diagnosed, and the therapist uses his or her knowledge of psychological treatments to guide the therapeutic process. The client and therapist work on many areas, such as the client’s history or negative circumstances affecting the client’s life. The therapist listens, and often provides feedback that may assist the client in re-evaluating their history and their current circumstances. Good therapists do not give advice. They assist their clients see and understand their lives more clearly, and help clients change dysfunctional thinking and behavior. New ways of viewing themselves, their past, and their present are often the focus. Behavior change and symptom reduction can result, as the client begins to change their way of thinking and seeing themselves, others, and the world. Cognitive therapy asserts that thoughts lead to feelings, and feelings lead to behavior. Change your thoughts, and your behavior will change as well. Psychotherapy can be extremely powerful and life changing.

Personal and Professional Coaching is a partnership of equals, which differs from traditional psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, there is an inherent power differential, as the client looks to the therapist for resolution of symptoms. This is referred to as the medical model, where one party is the patient, and the other is the doctor, trained to treat mental health disorders. Individuals who come for coaching are healthy and are not seeking relief from psychiatric symptoms. Coaching clients seek inspiration, increased motivation, and assistance moving toward a more successful and fulfilling life. Coaches are teachers, sounding boards, motivators, and planners. People who work with a coach are looking to attain personal and professional goals. The coach’s job is to help you clarify and uncover what is most important to you, and to assist you identify the goals you want to attain. A coach works with you creating plans that lead to goal attainment, and helps you identify and change counter-productive behaviors that may be impeding your success. Coaching is for stable, healthy individuals who desire greater success in their personal and professional lives. Coaching too is very powerful, and is a life-changing experience that leads to greater life satisfaction and fulfillment.

I was a psychotherapist for many years, and I witnessed great changes take place in those I treated. Now, as a personal and professional coach, I partner with clients who seek more – be it life satisfaction, happiness, or personal and professional success. Only you know which option suits you best.