Psychotherapy 5 Differences Between Coaching and Psychotherapy By Jenev Caddell, PsyD Jenev Caddell, PsyD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Jenev Caddell, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist, relationship coach, and author. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 17, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Sean Blackburn Fact checked by Sean Blackburn LinkedIn Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology and field research. Learn about our editorial process Print Hill Street Studios / Blend Images / Getty Images If you are interested in changing your life for the better, speaking with someone on the outside of your life can be extremely helpful. Psychotherapy and coaching are two services that have helped countless people live their best lives, but they are often confused, as there is a great deal of overlap between each of these fields. Coaches vs. Psychotherapists Here are five differences between coaching and psychotherapy to help you decide who might be more suited to help you along your journey. Psychotherapists Treat Mental Illness While Coaches Do Not One of the most important distinguishing factors between psychotherapists and coaches is that psychotherapists are trained to help people who are facing mental illnesses, and coaches are not. Even though a great deal of stigma exists around mental illness, mental health problems are more common than ever, impacting about one in four Americans at some point in their lifetimes. If you are seeking help for a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychotherapy is the way to go. Past vs. Future Orientation Generally speaking, coaching is more focused on helping you achieve your future goals, while psychotherapy tends to have more of a past and present focus. That being said, many coaches should be able to help you understand how the past contributes to your present, and psychotherapists can help you achieve your future goals. The focus in psychotherapy is more on healing from the past, while the focus in coaching is more on getting you to where you wish to be next. Differences in Payment Because psychotherapy is about treating a mental health problem, it may be covered by your insurance company if you meet the criteria for a mental health disorder and the insurance company deems psychotherapy medically necessary to help you get better. Coaching is typically not covered by health insurance because the focus of coaching is not on treating an illness. Accreditation In order to legally provide psychotherapy, one requires an advanced degree and a state license to practice. To obtain a license to practice psychotherapy, one needs to meet certain criteria which include an exam and a certain number of supervised hours of practice. While there are many certification programs for coaching, there are no governing boards for life or success coaches. Despite a lack of a governing board in the field of coaching, many coaches offer tremendous services and some originally practiced as psychotherapists. Services Psychotherapists face more restrictions than coaches in terms of where and how they are able to offer services. They must be licensed in the state in which they practice, for example, while coaches can work throughout all of the United States and internationally. Psychotherapy is more traditionally offered face to face in an office, while coaching happens frequently over the phone or via the internet. Even so, some psychotherapists offer services over the phone or via the internet and some coaches have offices in which they see clients. Some coaches choose to meet with clients in a public setting, which is rarer for psychotherapists. The above differences are generalizations and do not apply to all psychotherapists and coaches. In reality, the differences between two psychotherapists or two coaches may be greater than the difference between a coach and a psychotherapist, depending on who they are. If you are not clear on whether or how to choose a psychotherapist or coach, interview a few from each profession and ask them about their approaches. Do your research to make sure that their backgrounds are legitimate, and choose the one that feels right for you. The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Mental Health Disorder Statistics. Additional Reading National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). By Jenev Caddell, PsyD Jenev Caddell, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist, relationship coach, and author. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? 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