I saw a troubling Facebook recently. A woman claiming to be a life coach said her client is no longer suicidal after working with her for three months (no mention of a therapist or other mental health professional).
❌ COACHING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THERAPY ❌
This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a coach making potentially dangerous promises, but it was definitely the most egregious.
The truth is, any coach worth her salt will not promise or agree to help you process trauma or treat mental illness.
Coaches help clients make life changes. The process may involve some amount of reflection (to identify the triggers and limiting beliefs keeping a client stuck), however, coach’s work is largely future focused.
Only a licensed health care provider should delve deep into past wounds, provide medical advice, or engage in patient diagnosis.
Therapy takes a person from hurting to surviving.
Coaching takes them from surviving to thriving.
If a coach doesn’t explain to the difference between coaching and therapy, walk away. If you express that you are depressed or are otherwise suffering and the coach doesn’t refer you to a therapist, walk away.
Life coaches who are “treating” people with mental health issues are giving coaching a bad name. They are harming the profession and harming their clients. Period.
Please be cautious when choosing a coach. Ask them about their boundaries and how they can and cannot help. Don’t entrust your mental health to someone who isn’t actually trained to care for it.
If you have any questions about hiring a coach or when it’s better to seek therapy, hit reply and ask. I’m happy to give you feedback without a sales pitch.
Very interesting article. I also support this point of view. Coaching therapy improves people to develop their minds. Always keep it up.
I need to push back slightly. As a coach myself, who has worked with thousands of leaders and men over my 20 years in the industry, I will tell you that often coaching becomes a session to reveal past pains while forcing on healing them. A good coach can manage both well. Personally I have coached many people through trauma to make them stronger and help them achieve their goals. The two are not separate. Granted, many coaches are not equipped to manage these deep traumas, so it’s not for everyone. But, to a qualified coach, with a psychology background, you can manage this combo effectively. Much like many therapists are terrible at their jobs, so too are many coaches.My personal experience with a therapist always moved to coaching or I would become frustrated. Dwelling on one’s past is not a path to healing it. As humans, healing the past and moving into the future should be the rapid goal. In my opinion. And that takes a coach.
The two are VERY separate. Do not claim to know anything about mental illness. It makes you a fraud. The article is spot on. Life coaching is helping people thrive. If you throw that at Someone who is barely surviving, they will drown. Having a mental illness makes one feel completely overwhelmed and incapable. Telling someone with mental Illness the steps to help themselves is not ok. If they are not capable of taking those steps, then their sense of being incapable and overwhelmed only increases. If you’re dealing with someone who is blue from time to time, that’s different. But a real mental health Illness can NOT be treated with life coaching… period.
I agree wholeheartedly, and thank you for sharing. I believe strongly in coaching, and I think protecting it means respecting what it can and cannot do. Unfortunately, too many coaches don’t share my conviction.
Thanks for reading and commenting!