Now let me choose my words carefully because a lot of you out there are A) Either life coaches B) see a life coach or C) Think that you don’t need a therapist and will settle for a life coach instead.
With that being said and as an LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) and someone who offers coaching services here is my two cents.
When someone goes to a life coach they are generally looking for: Help getting through a stressful time in their life, Managing a new job, getting through a life transition, friend/family drama, getting organized etc. I don’t have any issue with this whatsoever because there’s always value in getting a second, third or fourth opinion on something, my issue lies in the fact that many life coaches don’t have any sort of formal training that even remotely resembles that of a therapist. They don’t have courses in conflict management, objectivity, human behavior, trauma, coping skills, and not even close to the same amount of training and clinical hours as a therapist. A lot of life coaches go through training which consists of learning how to run a business, helping identify problems and solving those problems, it’s comparable to solutions based therapy (which is short term, goal oriented). They learn ‘positive psychology’, ‘strengths based work’ and ‘problem solving’ which again *I have no problem with*. My issue lies with those who take in clients who are suffering from depression, anxiety, DV, trauma and other actual mental health issues that require someone with training to assist. My favorite types of life coaches are those that have a background in mental health because they are able identify when someone needs solutions based therapy and a more intense therapy such as DBT, CBT or one of the other handful of methods.
I also have a problem with people who refuse to acknowledge that they actually need therapy (pretty much everyone I know could benefit from at least a few sessions) and fool themselves into thinking ‘oh I just need to get my life organized’ or ‘oh I just need help picking the right guy/girl, not sure why I keep going for the same type of person’ or ‘oh I just need help getting through this rough patch then I’ll be okay’. Usually the reason you need help with this is because you’re subconsciously repeating a pattern (a pattern of trauma) and while a life coach might help you break free from this pattern, this one time, it’s probably gonna come back. There’s probably other things that are going to pop up, and more than likely, one area might be solved, and another sore spot it going to pop up and that is why you need a therapist, a therapist who also offers coaching services, or a life coach in conjunction with a therapist.
No one has or had a perfect life, everyone has had trauma, and no one is able to live a life free of negativity and toxicity. These are facts, not fiction. So I highly recommend you take a moment, sit in silence with yourself for 10-15 minutes and think about what patterns you repeat in your life and why.
And if you need help, your friendly neighborhood licensed therapist and life coach, is here to help.