Though both psychotherapy and life coaching strive toward a common goal: a healthier and happier life style for the individual; there are some very specific differences in the process for how the changes occur. In addition, the clientele is somewhat different.

Discussing the similarities first might be easier. Both clients in psychotherapy and life coaching desire: to make better choices; explore alternative options for behaviors that don’t seem to be working; obtain and maintain positive thinking skills; create positive relationships, work experiences and life performances; learn and practice coping skills for dealing with frustration, anxiety, and difficult people; maintain high self-esteem; and among other things, become happier and healthier in general. I’m sure you will agree that these are all great goals and good reasons for seeking help and guidance.

The differences between life coaching and clinical psychotherapy are quite distinct. Though life coaching can address all areas of life as does therapy, therapy focuses more on the events, experiences, circumstances, and dysfunctional thoughts that brought the individual into therapy. Goals are set and the therapy explores past experiences, heals the emotional pain, reframes, redirects, structures, teaches new skills, establishes interventions for practicing the new skills, and guides the client all the way through the entire process. Life coaching, on the other hand, meets the client where he/she is in life and focuses more on looking forward than on exploring how he/she got where they are. Life coaching does not concern itself with the healing of past experiences. Even though some clinical therapy is client-directed, life coaching is much more client directed and prioritized.

Another major difference between life coaching and therapy is the actual clients themselves. Anyone can go to therapy for any issue they desire to work on at any stage of life. Life coaching requires that the individual be ready to receive the information presented by the coach. Life coaching clients, especially in a holistic practice must be at a minimal developmental level in order to absorb the lessons and interventions offered by the Life Coach. Life coaching clients need to have some level of commitment and be prepared to do the work to achieve the goals they desire.

In addition to the above differences, psychotherapy is far more clinical and structured with highly enforced standards of practice overseen by a variety of professional organizations than life coaching. Clinical therapy also includes structured theories of practice and specific interventions to address issues associated with formal psychiatric and psychological diagnosis. However, reputable Life Coaching professionals should have structured interventions that have been proven to facilitate positive change as well. Unfortunately, most life coaches have not had the experience of years of practice with proven interventions for facilitating change. Most life coach training programs consist of about 150 hours of practice prior to certification; while licensed, clinical therapists are required to earn a master’s degree, complete several internships, write a formal thesis, take a licensure test, complete yearly continuing education credits, and have 4500 hours of supervised clinical experience before a license is awarded. For this reason in particular, Life Coaches who also have experience in licensed, clinical therapy have the greatest potential for guiding and coaching their clients toward their desired goals. If you are in the process of searching for the right life coach, keep these qualifications in mind. Lotus Holistic Life offers you life coaching by board certified holistic professionals who are also Licensed Professional Counselors in psychotherapy with many years of experience in empirically validated interventions proven to facilitate optimal change.

Author's Bio: 

Cherie Scheurich is a Licensed Holistic Minister, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has many years of experience helping others work through serious life-changing traumas as well as achieve the lives they desire. Visit Cherie at for more tips on life's outlooks and coaching options. Lotus Holistic Life also offers a variety of self-help curriculum and a wide variety of holistic products.