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Future Fit Traning

Life Coach Vs Therapist: What is the difference?

Life coaching and therapy can easily become a blurred line when understanding the difference between the two, a clear way to remember this is simply the focus of work.

Life coaching and therapy can easily become a blurred line when understanding the difference between the two, a clear way to remember this is simply the focus of work. A life coach will work with clients to help improve their quality of life by setting and achieving goals in both personal and professional aspects. Whereas a Therapist will work with clients in relation to their mental health and emotional healing. 

What is a life coach?

A life coach is a trained professional who will work with clients to provide guidance and advice to help them reach or exceed personal or professional goals. A Life Coach creates a supportive and informative environment which helps clients throughout their journey in building on certain aspects of their lives. 

The purpose of a life coaching session is to use a series of questions and discussion points to help and guide the client to the answers to achieving their goals or aims. 

What is a therapist?

A Therapist is a qualified and trained mental health care professional who operates in a regulated field of healthcare and therefore requires a license. A Therapist specialised in the ability to help clients with their cognitive and emotional skills with the aim to reduce symptoms of mental illness and overcome particularly hard life challenges.

The purpose of a Therapist is to run sessions which support and guide clients who may be experiencing mental health issues. They will work with the client to overcome and build on this to help improve their emotional healing. 

men in life coaching

Who do you see for what?

It can be difficult deciding who needs to help you when you are experiencing problems or challenges in your life. Below we have highlighted some key areas which help identify what the best cause to action is for you or those who may need additional support.

When do you see a life coach?

  • You have certain goals in life that you want to achieve
  • You want to accelerate and grow to the next step in your career
  • You are looking for new ways to progress and challenge yourself 
  • You want to start building healthy habits 
  • You want to hold more accountability in life
  • You want to put a stop to unhealthy habits
  • You feel like your life is ‘stuck in a rut’ and you want to break out of your comfort zone

When do you see a therapist?

  • You have experienced trauma or past pain which you want to heal from
  • You experience symptoms of mental health which cause you to stress
    • Eating disorders
    • Depression 
    • Anxiety
  • You are in a struggling or problemed relationship and need couples counselling to work on it.
  • You continuously have negative emotions and you are looking for help

Skillset & Qualifications

As you can probably already guess from what we have discussed, the skillset and qualifications for both roles differ. One role can operate in an unregulated field and the other is considered a regulated qualification in healthcare. Understanding the standards in both is key in ensuring you or anybody else is getting what they intend to from the service. 

average salary

Life coach

Currently, Life Coaching can be considered an unregulated field of work, whereby individuals can offer life coaching services without any regulated qualifications. However, often Life Coaches would have undertaken some sort of study or course such as a Level 3 Life Coach or Level 5 Life Coach Course to help build knowledge in the field and become a Life Coach

Although Life Coaches don’t have to technically be qualified to operate, individuals choose to undertake a study to ensure they have the knowledge and skill-set. Not only does a qualification showcase their knowledge to potential clients, but it will also ensure they have the knowledge available to ensure they can effectively help others change their lives. If they were unqualified, they may struggle to build a repertoire in the industry which could limit their client base. 

As Life Coaches they will be able to:

  • Help identify life visions and goals 
  • Create session agendas
  • Provide mentoring
  • Map out the process of meeting life goals and aims
  • Review and monitor client progress


As previously mentioned a Therapist will be qualified and have completed a master’s degree to be licenced in the healthcare field. They will need to have completed a degree in psychology or a related topic such as nursing, medicine or social work to be able to treat mental health. 

The course will also need to be recognised by the below:

The reasoning behind this level of qualification is the focus on working with mental health and emotional healing. Those working within this field need to be highly educated in working with distressed clients, in order to do this effectively, they need to understand cognitive and emotional management. 

Studying at a degree level will educate Therapist in several areas such as:

  • Cognitive reframing
  • Ability to heal past trauma
  • Ability to understand and adapt to client reactions and emotions
  • Counselling skills
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Identify and diagnose mental health conditions

Session structure

Session structure in both roles will vary in the focus and aim of the outcome for the client. The main difference between a life coach and a therapist is the way the sessions are broken down and planned. A Life Coach will map out action plans from anywhere between 8-16 weeks, whereas a Therapist won’t have an end date for client sessions.

Life Coach 

Life coaching focuses on helping the client make small and impactful changes from session to session in order to reach an end goal. Typically a life coaching session can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, which can be as often as the client would like. Some clients may choose to have life coaching sessions on a weekly basis whereas others may only feel like they need it monthly. 

The structure will follow a longer session at the start to outline client goals, information, challenges, mindset and behaviours. Following on from this there will be regular time-based sessions which will assess client progress, visualising goals and build on strategies to get to those end goals.

life coaching session


Therapy focuses on discussing emotions and feelings toward a particular challenge or memory which could be from trauma or a hard time in your life. Typically Therapy sessions can last anywhere between 1 hour to 2 hours which will be scheduled over a given time period. Unlike life coaching therapy won’t have a clear end date for the client, as a licensed therapist with deciding or agree with their client once they feel they have achieved the desired outcome in their mental health. Mental health professionals are trained to understand and read when clients have made positive changes in their mindset and emotional wellbeing, this is when therapy could end for a client. 

Similar to Life Coaching the initial therapy session will be longer, this will be used for the client and therapist to get to know each other, build on the relationship, feel comfortable and create a safe space. The sessions following on from this tend to be shorter and will be as regular as the therapist recommends based on the diagnostic approach. 

life coaching session

And if you want to stick to online sessions, finding the right telehealth therapist is essential if you want to ensure you receive the right diagnosis and treatment. 


Overall Therapists and Life Coaches have many different aspects and focus in their line of work, however, one thing remains the same, they aim to help improve the lives of others. They are both trained professionals who invest in knowledge and education to bring them the skill set to make a difference in others’ lives whether mentally, professionally or personally. The main difference between a Life Coach and a Therapist is that one is trained to work with mental health conditions whereas the other is trained to work as a coach on a more professional or personal level.