Over the past 20 years, life coaching has been gaining steam as an alternative to therapy. In many cases, people turn to life coaches when they are unsatisfied with their life, their love life, or their careers. In other cases, someone may seek a life coach if they want to lose weight or beat a vice.
You may be thinking, “Isn’t that why people go to therapy?” That’s a valid question, but therapy isn’t for everyone. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to understand why you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food, but it’s even more helpful to set a goal and ways to achieve it. Therein lies the main difference between therapy and life coaching. Life coaching, which focuses more on the future rather than the past, allows people to work with a coach that helps them meet specific goals and get to the place in life that they’d like to be.
Because therapy often pulls from the past, identifying specific behaviors or incidents, many people often leave feeling worse than when they started. One study approximates that 43% of clients participating in cognitive behavioral therapy experience increased distress, heightened symptoms, and difficult relationships with those around them.
Therapy, the most popular form being the aforementioned cognitive behavioral, often addresses negative and irrational thought processes that lead to dysfunctional behavior. When confronting emotions and experiences that are otherwise repressed, people are often left understanding why they feel a certain way but not how to feel better.
Life coaching, on the other hand, doesn’t focus entirely on thought processes or negative behaviors. Though the past is often discussed in sessions it is to understand beliefs or values rather than to diagnose or evaluate. Furthermore, thought processes (why you are thinking what you’re thinking) aren’t analyzed. Instead, life coaching asks you to listen to your inner voice and what it’s telling you.
Life coaching is also much more accessible to many people. While traditional meetings with a therapist takes place in an office, many life coaches implement weekly phone calls, along with conferencing software, that allows them to speak with their clients at any time and in any place. This is beneficial to many since we all have increasingly busy schedules. The ability to determine when and where a coaching session can take place is completely up to the client and their needs and comfort level.
If you’re feeling like your life is in a period of stagnation; if you’re feeling like you aren’t accomplishing everything you want to or aren’t living up to your potential, whether in your professional or personal life, consider reaching out to a life coach. Together, you can set attainable goals and develop realistic ways of achieving them.