Search
  • Jessica LeAnn Smith

Therapist or Life Coach? What's the difference anyway?

Licensed psychotherapists (mental/behavioral health therapists, counselors) have an extensive educational background. Licensed psychotherapists must undergo at least six years of formal education.  A four year college degree and at least two years of graduate school is required. Graduate work is concentrated on counseling. Graduate school typically includes at least two years or more of internship placements to gain supervised practical experience. After earning a masters or doctorate degree, at least two years of supervised clinical work establishes eligibility to take the licensing exam which consists of intensive tests and varies from state to state.  After successfully passing the examinations and being approved by the state licensing board the therapist then becomes licensed in the state in which they completed exams and applied for licensure. In addition to becoming licensed the therapist must stay up to date with any continuing education to maintain a valid license. 

Psychotherapists are trained to focus on long term and short term goals and seek to help clients work through and understand their thoughts, moods, and behaviors. Psychotherapists often specialize in working with various challenges including trauma, grief, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. Psychotherapists use different approaches to address various challenges using interventions rooted in theories that have been considered evidenced based treatments for various challenges.  Psychotherapists help clients to dissect a challenge and assist them in navigating solutions in addition to creating coping skills as the client explores solutions. 

Life coaches must obtain a certification through an accredited program. A certification is not required to be a life coach, but it is greatly encouraged. There are no degree requirements to be a life coach.  The main role of a life coach is to motivate, offer emotional support, and create confidence as it applies to the various challenges the client presents. Life coaches may focus on creating a new life path to achieve goals as well as holding clients accountable for those goals. 

Psychotherapists and life coaches alike are most concerned with helping clients be the best they can be but the ways they go about helping clients manifest strengths are different.  Hopefully this clears up any questions you may have about the differences between psychotherapy and life coaching. If you are still questioning which is best for you don’t hesitate to message me at jessicasmith@smithbhw.com. Remember to always to Be Well and Be Happy 


11 views

Smith Behavioral Health and Wellness, LLC 

615-933-8772

210 25th Avenue North, Suite 1220
Nashville, TN 37203

©2018 by Smith Behavioral Health and Wellness. Proudly created with Wix.com