What is the difference between life coaching and therapy?

Life coaches identify and describe current problem behaviors so that the client can work to modify them. Therapists analyze the past of their clients as a tool for understanding current behaviors. In other words, therapists focus on “why certain behavioral patterns occur,” and coaches work on “how to work to achieve a goal.” It's usually short-term, three to 12 months. There are a few key differences between coaching and therapy.

Therapists are licensed and provide mental health treatment to people with diagnosed mental illnesses. Coaches provide goal-oriented services that are not related to health care. A personal trainer is beneficial when it comes to improving certain skills and generating motivation to achieve your goals. Coaches and therapists who work together do so at the client's request and when collaboration is in the client's best interest.

Coaches (including therapists who practice coaching) will be absolutely interested in knowing what the “source material” of their clients is and will want to know what life experiences have led you to where you are. While coaches receive some training and are certified, therapists go through years of training and supervision to become licensed in a particular state. If you want to work on something specific, such as changing the way you think about money or achieving milestones in your business, coaching is probably the right answer. The goal of coaching is constant progress, so the sessions are aimed at encouraging your strengths and using that learning to move forward in an effective and practical way.

Therapists help clients think about their figurative yesterdays to overcome deep-seated problems, while life coaches are there to help them from today's starting point to succeed tomorrow. While therapists are trained mental health professionals who are in the regulated field of health care and require a license, life coaches have no mental health training and are not equipped to diagnose or treat mental health conditions (unless a life coach has previously received training as a therapist, which is also common). He says he continues to work with his coach on his own projects and goals in order to be able to consistently serve clients at a high level. Consider going to therapy if you want to be cured or get help with a mental health problem; try life coaching if you need help to “unwind” or develop your full potential.

There's some overlap between the jobs of a professional or life coach and a therapist, but they're not the same thing, Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist and executive director of Group Therapy Associates, tells CNBC Make It. Since then “aha”, Kauffman has played a leading role in the coaching profession as founder and co-president of the Coaching Institute at McLean Hospital in Boston, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Life coaches and therapists have different missions when it comes to helping people change their lives. And if you have goals that you want to work on during therapy, they're probably different from the goals you would identify with a personal trainer.

Working with a coach who has completed the education, training, and required standards that a therapist, master's or doctorate doctor would have helps clients feel confident that they are in qualified hands.