Decoding the Puzzle: Therapist or Coach?

Decoding the Puzzle: Therapist or Coach?

Learning the Difference between Therapists and Life Coaches

Unlocking the distinction between therapists and coaches can feel like deciphering a complex puzzle. In an era where countless practitioners flood social media, understanding the nuances becomes crucial. Let’s delve into the maze, shedding light on the differences that empower you to make an informed choice.


To practice Psychotherapy, a practitioner must hold a license from a regulatory body, typically requiring a master’s degree. Psychotherapy is considered a controlled act in Ontario.   That means that a provider is allowed to intervene in such a way to help you change your thoughts and feelings.  Therapists can help you learn about your blind spots, how to monitor and regulate your emotions, how to work through past trauma and how to overcome chronic conflict.  When struggling with conditions such as anxiety, depression and trauma this delicate process should always be guided a trained and regulated professional.  Examples of professions that can do psychotherapy include: Registered Social Workers, Registered Psychotherapists, Medical Doctors, Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists and Psychologists.  All of these professionals go through extensive training to understand mental illness, managing negative side effects of therapy, legal aspects, and various therapeutic methods.

Life Coaches

Life coaches operate in an unregulated sphere with no specific training mandates. While the International Federation of Life Coaches offers certification for specific training completion, the lack of a standardized framework is apparent. Life coaches may specialize in various domains, from career and ADHD coaching to sports and transformational coaching. Life coaches are great at helping clients gain more self-awareness, set goals, make mindset shifts and stay accountable to change.  Undeniably, it’s important for those dealing with mental illness to be careful if deciding to use a life coach since their more vulnerable thoughts and feelings need to be expertly directed.

Therapy vs. Coaching: The Crucial Distinction

It’s important to recognize that coaches excel in accountability and guiding positive life changes. They thrive in brainstorming creative self-growth strategies. However, they aren’t substitutes for trained mental health professionals when grappling with issues like anxiety, depression, addiction, or trauma.

Finally, as you continue to work on personal growth and empowerment, remember the pivotal role each professional plays. Coaches propel you forward, therapists guide you through the intricacies of mental health. For more insight into our team of dedicated psychotherapists, explore our team page here.

In a world teeming with options, understanding the therapist versus coaching dynamic ensures you find the right companion on your journey to wellness.

Ready to get started? Book a free 30-minute consultation with our Care Manager today to see if one of our therapists is the right fit for you: 

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