two women talking behind a laptop—life coaching vs therapy|Life-coaching-with-Brian-G-Aligning-Your-Goals-1300x867|What is the difference between life coaching, mental health coaching, and counseling Graphic (2000 × 500 px) (1) (1)

Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Mental Health Coaching: How Each Can Help Support Employees

Haeli Harris
July 6, 2022
October 23, 2022

Life coaching vs therapy… there’s a difference? And what is mental health coaching?

Fundamentally, mental health coaching, counseling/therapy, and life coaching all seek to reveal what lies beneath the surface and help support those with mental health challenges. They accomplish this by asking the right questions that allow you to dig deep and find answers within yourself. All three touch on certain areas of life such as transitions, careers, and relationships. They can both help you improve your communication and emotional intelligence.

They also have some clear differences regarding the provider’s expertise and approach.

The Nivati platform provides access to all three types of professional mental health care.

See the chart below for a quick overview of the differences between life coaching, therapy, and mental health coaching.

What is counseling?

Counseling (also called therapy) is more clinical in nature. Therapy is all about reflecting on mental health challenges and creating healthy habits to better manage them.

Therapy sessions are held by a trained professional counselor. Therapists have at least a Master’s degree, are able to treat mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc., and are required to adhere to state laws regarding confidentiality.

When you start meeting with a therapist, you can expect to talk about the emotional challenges you have been facing and the mental health issues you have been struggling with. In therapy, you can expect to talk a lot about your thoughts and feelings, and how those thoughts and feelings impact your behaviors.

Therapy approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you gain coping skills like mindfulness and teach you how to control your thoughts.

Therapy is especially helpful for those:

  • that are struggling with a serious mental illness like depression
  • may need to be referred to a psychiatrist to be prescribed medication
  • whose mental health is greatly impacting their day-to-day life
  • have experienced a traumatic event
  • need to build strategies and habits to improve their mental health

It is best to work with a therapist whose expertise is in the area you need support in—whether that be depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or any other mental illness.

The average person is better off after seeing a therapist than 79% of people that do not receive mental health treatment.

Types of Therapy

There are many different approaches to individual talk therapy. Here are a few of the most common therapeutic approaches:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Solution-Focused Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Humanistic Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

What is mental health coaching?

Mental health coaches are trained psychotherapists but are not clinically licensed in the state in which you are receiving care. Thus, they cannot diagnose clients with mental health conditions, but they can use techniques from the therapeutic approaches they are certified in to treat you.

Mental health coaching is a great option for people that:

  • Want the widest array of provider options within the Nivati platform
  • Want to improve their mental health and wellbeing but do not need a diagnosis or medication
  • Are interested in being treated through one of the therapeutic approaches
  • Want to talk about their emotions and what is behind them
  • Need to build strategies and habits to improve their mental health

What is life coaching?

Life coaches help clients lead better lives by helping them achieve their goals. Self-development is a common theme for life coaches. People talk to life coaches about their career aspirations, productivity struggles, their desire for a healthier lifestyle, major life transitions, and similar topics. It is typical to talk to a life coach when you feel like your daily life has been “stagnant” or you are having trouble reaching your goals.

Life coaches help identify bad habits that are holding you back from your goals and help you create a roadmap to achieve those goals.

Life coaching is a great option for those that:

  • Don’t think they need clinical therapy or a diagnosis to address the challenges they are facing
  • Feel dissatisfied at work
  • Want to create healthier habits
  • Feel a lack of fulfillment
  • Want to work on goal setting and reaching
  • Want to increase their motivation
  • Want to exit their comfort zone but something is holding them back

Life coaches can help with soft skills such as communication by helping you recognize patterns in your life and how you can improve or change those patterns so you can better reach your goals. Life coaching is very practical and less focused on emotions and more on behaviors and actions.

Most people choose to work with a life coach that inspires them. Every life coach has a slightly different philosophy—so find a coach whose philosophy resonates with you.

Life coaches do not need a degree in psychology nor a certification to practice. Life coaches do not need a certification to practice and are not held by any confidentiality laws such as HIPAA.

Types of Life Coaches

Life coaches may specialize in certain areas such as:

  • business
  • career
  • creativity
  • dating
  • exercise and fitness
  • health and nutrition
  • leadership
  • relationships
  • sports
  • addiction
  • divorce
  • personal finance

Related: Life Coaching Topics to Bring to Your Next Life Coaching Session

Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Mental Health Coaching: What's the Difference?

The main differences are in the severity of the issues they address, the desired outcomes, the training they have received, and the standards each is held to.

Life coaches do not need a certification to practice and are not held by any confidentiality laws such as HIPAA. They do not need any specific training to practice as a life coach.

Therapists are trained and certified in the field of psychotherapy and are required by law to keep conversations confidential. Unlike life coaches, therapists are able to treat mental health conditions.

Mental health coaches cannot officially treat mental health conditions since they are not licensed in your region, yet they are still trained to support those who are struggling with mental health conditions. They also are encouraged to follow HIPAA specifications.

two women talking behind a laptop—life coaching vs therapy

Similarities of life coaching, mental health coaching, and counseling include:

  • they address challenges relating to careers, stress, life transitions, and relationships
  • the coach or therapist can provide fresh insights into your life situations and give advice
  • outcomes such as reduced stress, better work-life balance, improved relationships, and improved social confidence and skills
  • it is best to work with a coach or therapist you feel comfortable with

What's Best For My Team?

It is normal to feel timid or skeptical about therapy… “I don’t need therapy,” or “Therapy is only for people with mental illnesses” are common objections.

We all need someone to talk to sometimes, regardless of our mental health. Talking to someone can help us process our challenges so we can better face them. Life coaches, mental health coaches, and therapists can help employees be happier and more productive.

Life coaching is a great option for people that are unsure about going to therapy, while therapy and mental health coaching are great at addressing mental health struggles. That’s why it is a good idea to provide employees access to all three. Whether employees need to sort through severe stress or just want some guidance in reaching their goals, life coaches, mental health coaches, and therapists cover all the bases.

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