Everyone Can Benefit From Therapy
By now, you likely have a go-to coping mechanism for when stress and problems arise. Hopefully it’s something on the healthy side of the spectrum, such as seeking comfort from the ones you love, or getting those endorphins flowing with some exercise. But no matter what way you deal, everyone can use a little extra support in handling life’s challenges — and one way to get it is through talking with a professional.
Before you immediately dismiss the idea, consider this: Research has shown that verbalizing feelings can have a significant therapeutic effect on the brain. In other words, getting your worries out in the open (even the “insignificant” ones) — particularly with someone trained to help you manage them — is a good thing for your well-being.
So, say you’ve decided to take the plunge and get some professional help. Should you seek out a therapist, or would a life coach benefit you more? It’s important, firstly, to understand how the two differ (though regardless of the differences, or which route you go with, you’re still making a choice to better your life — and there’s nothing bad about that).
Therapists, whether classified as psychologists or counselors, have varying master’s and doctorate degrees and are licensed by their state. With psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, licensed professionals focus on the long-term and work on ways to understand your thoughts, moods and behaviors. Life coaches, on the other hand, are encouraged to obtain certification through an accredited program like the International Coaching Federation (although it’s not required as the profession isn’t regulated). And unlike with therapists, there are no degree requirements. Life coaches aim to motivate, offer emotional support and create confidence in their clients. Many former psychologists and counselors have gone on to become life coaches.
An article published by the American Counseling Association likens therapy and life coaching to step-siblings: sharing similar traits, but each using different approaches. Many life coaches focus on creating a new life path in order to achieve goals, whereas therapy sometimes looks into emotional resolutions to past problems in order to move forward, according to Counseling Today. But as author and clinical psychologist Michael Bader writes, it doesn’t matter how conflated the two can be — what matters is what you get from the practice: