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June 8, 2021 Haeli Harris

Life Coaching vs Therapy: How Each Can Help Support Employees

Life coaching… what in the world is that? Life coaching vs therapy… there’s a difference?

We hear those questions all the time. Here, we are going to answer them!

In short, therapy is focused on improving mental health, while life coaching is focused on reaching goals.

Both touch on certain areas of life such as transitions, careers, and relationships. They can both help you improve your communication and emotional intelligence—but from very different approaches.

What is a life coach?

Life coaches help clients lead better lives by helping them achieve their goals. 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 focus on the present. They 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 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 about behaviors and your 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.

See what a life coaching session is like in action! Here is a life coaching video on Aligning Your Goals with Nivati life coach Brian G.

Life coaching with Brian G from Nivati Aligning Your Goals—life coaching vs therapy

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

What is therapy?

Therapy is more clinical in nature. Therapy is all about reflecting on mental health challenges and creating healthy habits to better manage them.

Therapy is focused on healing. It is confidential, and 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 your past, 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 goes to the core of your behavior by focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and past experiences.

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 mental illness like depression
  • whose mental health is greatly impacting their day-to-day life
  • have experienced a traumatic event
  • who desire confidentiality
  • 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 types of individual talk therapy. Here are a few of the most common types:

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

Life coaching vs therapy: 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 HIPPA. 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.

Life coaching and therapy are not substitutes for each other; they address different challenges. Therapy typically has no “end” date; life coaching does. Life coaches typically sell a package of sessions to a client. You can see a therapist as many times as you’d like, as often as you’d like.

Similarities of life coaching and therapy include:

  • they address challenges relating to careers, stress, life transitions, and relationships
  • the life 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

two women talking behind a laptop—life coaching vs therapy

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 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, yet therapy is great at addressing mental health struggles. That’s why it is a good idea to provide employees access to both. Whether employees need to sort through severe stress or just want some guidance reaching their goals, life coaches and therapists cover all the bases.

Nivati is the #un-eap – and you’ll see why! We are the ultimate workforce wellness platform.

We have a quick turnaround – we can get all your employees set up with us in 48 hours. It only takes minutes to set an appointment with a therapist or any Nivati practitioner. Our utilization rates are the highest in the industry.

We will work with your company to prioritize mental health.

See how Nivati can help support your employees. Request a demo today!


By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Haeli Harris

Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Lead Counselor at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, UT & HI
Registered Yoga Teacher 200
Trauma Conscious Yoga (2021)
Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Bachelor's of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Utah
Master's of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Northcentral University