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Life Coaching Vs. Therapy: Which is Right for Me?

Many of us will come to a crossroads in our life. Whether it’s with long-standing mental health issues or a lack of confidence or accountability, so many of us are not equipped to achieve what we all truly deserve; the ability and determination to take control of our lives and achieve the success that is our due. 

Interventions such as therapy and life coaching can go a long way to helping us deal with challenges from our past and setting concrete and sustainable plans to build the future we want for ourselves. Here we’ll explore the differences between the two, and how bringing them together can benefit us in actualizing the lives we deserve. 

What is the Difference Between Coaching and Therapy?

Coaching and therapy are two distinct disciplines whose goals are actually quite similar. Clients who come to us for either are always looking for the same things; to improve their current level of functioning and to take command of their lives. And in the end, we find what creates the best results are a combination of the two. 

This is because at Valiance, we strive to understand the whole person - where they’ve come from, where they are, and where they are going. This hybrid approach allows us to cater treatment toward a holistic and all-encompassing improvement in one’s ability to reclaim agency over their life, to feel better in their own skin, and to accept the truth that we are all capable of becoming the captain of our own ship.

Our approach to  therapy and counseling aims to unpack and understand  a client’s past so we can work together to navigate their current lifestyle  How you were raised, what beliefs you’ve been taught and the traumas you experienced growing up all play an outsized role in the life we lead today. The National Institute of Mental Health found in 2021 that a startling 49.5 percent of adolescents aged 13-18 experienced some form of mental health issue in their lives (NIHM, 2021). We witness this staggering reality in our clients every day, from depression and anxiety, to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), eating disorders and a whole host of other issues which can cause some level of minor or major impairment. That’s why we seek to understand the underlying causes of learned maladaptive behaviors, negative thought patterns, and the seemingly insurmountable issues that depression and anxiety can create for a person’s well-being and, ultimately, their future.

Coaching, on the other hand, looks to the present and the future. The clients we see will come in with their own goals and aspirations, but may lack the discipline, mindset, or routines to reach those goals. In some cases they may be missing the point on how to motivate themselves because they are not equipped with the tools they need to create a sustained passion for their future. 

Good coaches build relationships with the people seeking their help. I believe effective life coaching combines both a “close-up” approach to the everyday life of the client and a “big-picture” approach that maps out how both maladaptive and positive behaviors and mindsets impact their ability to stay motivated. 

Another crucial aspect of effective life-coaching is drawing connections for clients between how they invest in themselves and the results. We celebrate our clients’ successes and let them know how they got there, but also point out with honesty and compassion what is actually holding them back. 

From there we build a shared responsibility between coach and client to foster accountability and create a plan of attack to make behavioral and mindset changes that will ultimately reveal the potential the person in front of us has always had. 

Benefits of Life Coaching

People from all walks of life have embraced life coaching as a way to realize their potential. It provides a unique opportunity for two people to come together to find the best practices to reveal one’s ability to take control of their life. Some of the benefits of life coaching include:

  • Clarity of Goals - Sometimes we want too much for ourselves, and don’t know where to start. Effective life coaching will help a client prioritize goals, set new targets for self improvement and even sometimes narrow down the scope of their life to concentrate their time and energy on what really matters to them.

  • Accountability - It’s a hard lesson to learn, but all successful life coaching clients will develop both a healthy response to and a positive relationship with accountability. Over time accountability becomes something less to be scared of and more a tool to embrace so one can perform at a higher level consistently.

  • Confidence - Life coaches work to build confidence in their clients to meet challenges with a positive mindset. The potential in all of us is far more easily unlocked when we believe we are capable and deserving of success.

  • Personal Awareness - Perhaps one of the most important benefits of life coaching is helping clients develop personal awareness. This means making it a priority to remain clear on the connections between effort, mindset, and the results we realize, while also accepting the behaviors and thought patterns that hinder us.

Benefits of Therapy

Therapy is a personal journey through one’s past to unravel the learned behaviors and stories we tell ourselves which impact us negatively today. Effective counseling and therapy can shed light on how and why we are held back by issues such as anxiety and depression, and give us a path to improving our mental health and the ability to take command of our lives. The benefits we’ve witnessed of effective therapy include:

  • Development of Healthy Coping Mechanisms - We all have the potential to develop a proper toolkit for dealing with adversity and negative feelings, and therapy can help a client find out chiefly what isn’t working, and what kinds of behaviors can work to manage how we cope with challenges.

  • Better Relationships - So often people in need of therapy will suffer from strained or broken relationships without seeing the connection between the state of those relationships and their mental health. When someone knows how to take care of themselves better, they are often able to build deeper and richer relationships with colleagues, family and friends. 

  • Improved Communication - Therapy is based in large part on communication. Learning to navigate how to express ourselves, from how we feel to how we want to change, is an important tool for finding support from those around us and dealing effectively with emotions and adversity.

  • Improving Resilience - When the core issues of our mental health are addressed, we can begin to establish resilience in our lives to deal not only with our own inherent issues, but also with the challenges ahead to achieve our goals.

  • Rewriting & Reframing “the story”: Whether it be events, relationships, or our internal dialogue, so much of our lived experience is subjective.  It’s viewed through our eyes; our story.  Successful therapy looks to keep the parts of the story that are working, while editing, shaping and reframing the parts that no longer serve us.

Which is Right for You - Life Coaching or Therapy?

Now you may be asking yourself, “Which is right for me? Life coaching or Therapy?” I’m here to say that, in so many cases, the answer is both. 

Years of practice has taught me and my colleagues that any one person comes to our door with a universe of intermingling issues holding them back from realizing their potential. Because these issues are intimately related, making a choice between therapy and life counseling as opposed to embracing them both as a holistic set of solutions to mend the past and set the future right will miss the mark.

In therapy, someone with depression will come to understand why they feel the way they do, but life coaching will then guide that person to a path to overcome the challenge more effectively than therapy alone. Someone suffering from a lack of motivation may find developing an accountability-centered routine is helpful, but may miss out on the reality of why they lack motivation. 

People who embrace both practices as parts of a more complete program of self improvement find the reason for their pain, and a resolution to relief on the other side. I’ve witnessed in my own work that bringing the two disciplines together into a hybrid approach of self-actualization leaves clients with a more complete understanding of themselves, where they are, and ultimately where they are destined to go. 

Conclusion & CTA

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say everyone can benefit from self-discovery. Our work at Valiance has only confirmed time and time again that everyone has latent potential to unlock. Everyone has the capacity for self improvement, yet we all need compassion, empathy and guidance to develop a positive mindset and a positive self image. 

At Valiance, we’ve proven that dealing with our past and our negative beliefs through therapy, and developing accountability and clarity in our lives through coaching, leaves clients empowered to set their ship right and establish healthy relationships with the people around them and, perhaps more importantly, with themselves. We are coaches with results-focused philosophies, and at the same time therapists clinically trained to deal with mental health issues, and we’re here to help you find your way, on your terms, and will cheer you on all the way to the finish line.

Onward and upward!

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