What Is a Life Coach Versus a Therapist?

Some people find it difficult to distinguish between a life coach versus a mentor versus a therapist. While they may all seem similar—therapists undergo rigorous training and life coaches can get ICF accredited life coach certifications—the practices are completely different.

Definition of Terms

Let’s begin by defining the two terms. Therapy is the process of reaching into past experiences to resolve negative beliefs, behaviors, and physical responses. Coaching is about helping an individual become the best version of themselves through skill development. 

Differences Between Life Coaching and Therapy

Now that we have a basic understanding of what the two terms are used to refer to, we can delve into the distinguishing differences.

1. What They Cover

Therapy focuses on mental health and finding long-lasting solutions, whereas life coaching focuses on a particular sphere of an individual’s life, such as health, relationships, weight or career.

Therapists are mental health specialists who are certified; individual life coaches may have received mental health training, but they aren’t required to know anything about mental health techniques or theories. In fact, currently, it is not mandatory that a life coach needs a license.

You should see a therapist if:

  • You have undergone an experience that caused you trauma and resulted in mental health conditions such as anxiety
  • You are looking for help healing from experiences in your past
  • You need someone to speak with regarding what you’re currently going through
  • You’re seeking couples counseling

You should consider speaking to a life coach if:

  • You want to achieve higher goals
  • You feel stuck in a certain area of your life
  • You want to substitute negative behaviors for healthy ones
  • You want to make a major change


2. Skills You Learn

Another way to differentiate between the two practices is by looking at the skills they teach an individual. Therapy is aimed at teaching the skills required to heal from past trauma, whereas life coaching teaches skills that help an individual become better in one or more spheres of their life, such as advancing in their profession.

3. Time

Therapy focuses on reminiscing to understand what’s causing you to be in your current mental state. Life coaching is futuristic in that it’s aimed at helping you achieve goals in the future.

4. How Sessions Are Conducted

Both life coaching and therapy begin with long initial sessions, but that’s all they have in common. In therapy, the direction the subsequent sessions take depends on your therapist. Subsequent sessions in life coaching are aimed at making the individual the best version of themselves by prioritizing goals.

5. Duration

Therapy continues until a solution is found or when an individual decides to end the sessions. On the other hand, life coaching is short-term and is only aimed at equipping individuals to achieve specific goals.


While they have some things in common, there are huge differences between a life coach and a therapist. Now that you understand each role, you can book a session based on your needs–the experts at Symbiosis Coaching are ready to help.

Certified NLP Coach

Program Description: The Certified NLP Coach program allows you to incorporate very powerful NLP techniques you’re your day-to-day coaching practice.

ICF Training Hours: 65

Duration: 25-weeks

Schedule: One 2-hour class per week

Includes certificate: Yes

Certified Organizational Development Coach

Program Description:

The Certified Organizational Development Coach program is an exclusive and very unique program, designed for coaches who wish to coach entire organizations with their Organizational Development and Change Management goals. This program provides you with 65 ICF training hours - more than enough for the ACC credential. Over a series of 25 weekly lectures, it prepares you to deal with volatile group dynamics across entire organizations. Topics including OD interventions, Team Engagement, Buyer Behavior of internal customers, The Tripod of Success, Ensuring Sustainability, Performance-Retention correlation, Strategies to influence behavior - and many more - are covered in detail.

Coaches are introduced to the ARCS Model, as well as to the Organizational Culture Audit Toolkit. Employee motivation, satisfaction, and productivity are discussed, as well as their impact on the performance of the organization as a whole. Students are introduced to various Change Management models including Lewin's Planned Change model, the ADKAR Change Management model, and Kotter's 8 steps of Change Management. Resistance to change and its manifestation are discussed, as is Behavior Modification.

Upon completing this program, Certified Organizational Development Coaches will have all the tools they need to affect positive transformation within organizations, and will be able to coach teams and personnel at all levels - including initiators, decision makers, influencers, and intervention implementers.

In addition to coaches who are launching their own Corporate Coaching practices, this is an essential program for HR professionals, Training and Development Professionals, Managers, and Corporate Leaders who wish to implement internal policies and OD processes to guide their companies and people through ongoing change.

ICF Training Hours: 65

Duration: 25-weeks

Schedule: One 2-hour class per week

Includes certificate: Yes

Certified Executive Coach

Program Description

The Certified Executive Coach program has been designed for coaches who wish to coach managers, executives, and corporate leaders. The goal of this program is to cultivate a deep understanding of how the executive coaching process works as well as some of the challenges that come up in executive coaching conversations.

This program has been approved by the International Coaching Federation for 32 hours, and it comprises of 12 live, instructor-led, fully interactive virtual classes offered over zoom. These classes cover various aspects of executive coaching including, but not limited to Effective Collaboration, Performance Management, Upskilling, Conflict Management, Effective Collaboration, Developing Team Members, and many more.

This program has a very unique, hands-on, experiential structure. Classes are focused on active participation by students through real life Coaching Challenges and discussions of real life executive coaching situations.

ICF Training Hours: 32

Duration: 12-weeks

Schedule: One 2-hour class per week

Includes certificate: Yes

Certified Life Coach

Program Description:

The Certified life Coach program is an essential program for anyone considering coaching as a profession. The goal of this program is to create a deep understanding of the coaching process, along with how and why it is effective in catalyzing shifts in the mindset to create positive, sustainable transformation.

The training is based on the ICF’s core coaching competencies. It focuses on skills that lead to effective coaching conversations and that are required to build a successful coaching business. It evokes awareness about how identity, thoughts, and feelings determine mindset; and why a change in Think Feel Do impacts the achievement of goals though a change in this mindset.

This program is approved by the International Coaching Federation for 95 hours and comprises 24 live, instructor led, fully interactive virtual sessions offered over Zoom. These lectures cover all aspects of coaching – topics such as Human Emotions and the Brain, Coaching through Emotional Intelligence, The Belief System, Coaching Process and Structure, Deep Listening, Setting Worthy Goals, Asking Insightful Questions, Addressing Client Resistance, Coaching Groups, The Business of Coaching, and many more. These are complemented with a library of reading and reference material, coaching challenges based on various real-life coaching situations, extensive hands-on coaching practice, and assignments designed to trigger reflection on and mastery of coaching skills.

ICF Training Hours: 95

Duration: 24-weeks

Schedule: One 2-hour class per week

Includes certificate: Yes

Class Schedule
ProgramStart DateClass TimesClass Schedule
Certified Life CoachWednesday, May 8th10:30am ET
3:00pm ET
8:00pm ET
Once a week, 2-hours, for 24-weeks
Certified Organizational Development CoachThursday, May 9th10:30am ET
3:00pm ET
8:00pm ET
Once a week, 2-hours, for 25-weeks
Certified Executive CoachTuesday, May 7th10:30am ET
3:00pm ET
8:00pm ET
Once a week, 2-hours, for 12-weeks
Certified NLP CoachMonday, May 6th10:30am ET
3:00pm ET
8:00pm ET
Once a week, 2-hours, for 25-weeks
Level 1/2 - ACC/PCC
Friday, May 31st10:30am ET
3:00pm ET (Full)
8:00pm ET
Once a week, 1-hour
for 6-sessions PLUS 4 one-on-
one sessions with mentor