Psychology Life Coach And Psychologist: How Do They Differ?

One of the most significant similarities between a psychology life coach and a psychologist is they are both in the business of helping people. Although there are differences in their approaches, these two professionals are focused on aiding people in receiving the help they need to live their most authentic lives. To understand how a psychology life coach differs from a psychologist, you must know what they do. Understanding the difference between these two professions will not only help the coach, but also the client who is seeking the appropriate professional service for their situation.

Psychology Life Coach And Psychologist: How Do They Differ?
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Who is a Life Coach?

A life coach is a professional who partners with clients one on one or in a group setting; helping them to identify their goals and develop an actionable plan to achieve them. The coach, using specific skills and strategies works with clients to help accomplish their desired goals.

Who is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is a healthcare professional who is trained to treat mental and emotional trauma, diagnose disorders and in some cases prescribe medications. Only a few states like New Mexico and Idaho in the United States allow psychologists to prescribe a limited number of psychotropic drugs.

Three Major Differences Between a Psychology Life Coach And a Psychologist

  • A psychologist requires an advanced degree (i.e., a Ph.D. or PSY.D) and a state license to practice. Because of the coaching field being unregulated, a coach neither needs a license nor degree to practice. However, a coaching certification is highly encouraged, and some psychology life coaches do have a mental health or psychology background.
  • Psychologists treat and diagnose mental illnesses; life coaches do not. However, coaches can prescribe action plans that create permanent change.
  • Psychologists are restricted in where they practice due to state licensing. Most of their sessions are done face to face in an office setting, while the coach is more flexible. For example, coaches are capable of receiving clients not just locally, but in other parts of the country and internationally.

Psychology Approach vs. Coaching Approach

Psychologists and mental health therapists are trained to use interventions that focus on past traumas to improve self-destructive habits, repair and develop relationships. Psychology aspire to bring the client to intellectual functioning by focusing on the client’s dysfunction which is contrary to the coaching approach. Coaching, however, is more future focused (solutions-focused coaching). What this approach does is to help your client in discovering solutions, building on strengths and finding positive ways forward in their pursuit of success.

How Does Psychology Help The Coaching Client?

In coaching, the science of psychology is used in constructive and practical ways to support clients towards creating overall success in every area of their lives. A psychology coach’s goal is to focus on the practical aspects of the human condition; concentrating on your clients’ strengths and abilities. Focusing on your clients’ positive attributes encourages them to appreciate themselves more, address challenges and achieve their desired goals.

As a psychology life coach, your clients will benefit from receiving the best of both worlds (psychology and coaching). You will be capable to better support your clients towards making powerful changes and achieving meaningful results. Coaching is frequently confused with the role of a psychologist and counselor. Therefore as coaches, it is crucial to make sure your clients identify the difference and when necessary refer them to the appropriate professional.

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Peggy Adegoke
Life Coach
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

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  1. Arya Melinda Cox says

    Is it safe to say that I only need a psychology life coach if my issues are more of habit related and not something that goes deeper like depression where no matter what I encounter things just seem darker than others. In that case I should be seeing a psychologist so that he can give me medication.
    Thanks for clarifying the difference in this post.

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