Dr. Cali Estes - The Addiction Coach ®

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Therapist versus Life Coach

Therapist versus life coach.

What Is Recovery Coaching and How Is It Different Than Therapy?

I’m often asked the question, “What exactly is recovery coaching or sober coaching, and how is that different from therapy?” So, let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two.

Therapist versus Life Coach

A therapist treats mental health conditions. A coach doesn’t claim to treat anything, but they provide mental fitness or real-life goal achievements.

So, for example, if you are suffering from severe anxiety or depression, you may want to see a therapist first before you go to a coach.

In the case of addiction recovery, a therapist will help to treat the addiction. A recovery coach’s goal is to help you stay sober and not relapse. Do you see the difference?

Let’s jump into some other differences between the two.

What Are Some Ways in Which a Recovery Coach Is Different Than a Therapist?

Both coaches and therapists work with some of the same modalities and tools to help you make lasting behavior changes that better your life. They both want to see you succeed. But let’s see how their processes differ from one another.

Therapist versus Life Coach: Future Planning vs. Past Re-Hashing in a therapist versus a life coach

A recovery coach is interested in working with you on your present and future timelines. A therapist is more concerned about helping you dig into your past and heal the issues.

While a coach can certainly ask about your history or traumas, they don’t typically want to dive as deep into these issues as a therapist would.

Let’s say that you were trying to get sober. A therapist could help you go back through your history and determine if there were any underlying traumas or issues that could have led to the substance use disorder.

A recovery coach could help you pinpoint this information as well but would want to help you set up a plan for the future and determine how you will continue your sobriety successfully.

Therapist versus Life Coach: Therapists Have To Have Certain Licenses To Treat Mental Health Issues

Therapists must be licensed to treat mental health and typically also have to have a master’s degree.

Life coaches usually have certifications, or they can sometimes be accredited by groups in the coaching industry, such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) or the National Board For Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).

However, a coach doesn’t have to be certified to become a coach, but certified coaches are typically more trained than non-certified coaches.

Therapist versus Life Coach: Therapy Usually Lasts Longer Than Coaching

Therapy usually takes a lot longer than coaching. A therapist could work with someone for years, whereas a coach usually only works with someone for months.

In fact, I love to see my clients fire me because I know they are ready for the world and don’t need me anymore.

Therapist versus Life Coach: Coaches Tend To Offer More Niche-Specific Assistance

Therapists usually work with you on trauma or maybe relationship issues. But, sometimes, these sessions can be open-ended, and you may never know where you’re going to lead the conversation.

A coach is usually more niche-specific.

For example, recovery coaches only work with addiction recovery. There are also trauma recovery coaches who focus on moving past trauma. Or you could have a codependency coach who works with people who want to overcome codependency patterns.

Coaching may be more beneficial than therapy if you have a certain goal.

The Addictions Coach Offers Both Therapy and Recovery Coaching Sessions

Now that you know a little more about a therapist and a recovery coach, you’ll be better equipped to decide which best suits your unique needs.

At the Addictions Coach, we offer both therapy sessions and recovery coaching. You can contact us today to get set up with the right tool for your recovery journey.


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