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Life Coach vs. Therapist vs. Licensed Clinical Psychologist

There are many different types of professionals who help clients work through hard times and negative thoughts to improve themselves. From general life coaches to Licensed Clinical Psychologists who have years of experience treating specific Mental Health Disorders, mental health professionals of all kinds can play a significant and positive role in your life.  

However, while life coaches, therapists, and Licensed Clinical Psychologists have similarities in their career fields, there are also distinct differences to be aware of. Read on to learn more about each of these options so you can find the right form of professional help for your life. 

Life Coach 

One of the most important things to know about life coaches is that they are not healthcare professionals. They might have specific certifications, but they do not need a degree or license to become a life coach. This does not mean life coaches are unprofessional or unhelpful, though. Many life coaches have valuable knowledge and experience that allow them to help their clients identify and achieve worthwhile life goals. Through life coaching, clients can transform their relationships, careers, self-esteem, and other key aspects of daily life. 

Goals of Life Coaching 

Life coaching revolves around setting goals, creating actionable steps to pursue those goals, and achieving them for lasting, positive change. As a result, sessions with a life coach are typically more results-oriented than appointments with a therapist or Licensed Clinical Psychologist. While therapy looks at your past to understand your present, life coaching looks at your present and identifies changes you can make to impact your future. This future-focused approach allows life coaches to help their clients adjust their habits and mindsets to achieve personal growth, accomplish goals, and reach their full potential in whatever they set their minds to. 

Benefits of Working With a Life Coach 

Life coaches help their clients find meaning, inspiration, and value in their lives. While they cannot offer the professional help necessary to treat Mental Health Disorders, they can still provide an invaluable service for people who feel stuck, burnt out, or uncertain about the future. Life coaches help more than just your personal motivation, too. If you want to improve your relationships, set career goals, or navigate major life changes successfully, a life coach can help. Other examples of why you might work with a life coach include: 

  • Wanting to actually achieve the goals you set; 
  • Wanting to push yourself out of your own comfort zone; 
  • Feeling like you are stuck going through the motions of daily life; 
  • Wanting to build healthy habits or let go of unhealthy habits; 
  • Wanting to improve confidence and self-esteem; 
  • Wanting to hold yourself accountable personally or professionally; and  
  • Seeking guidance about upcoming changes or decisions in your life. 

Many life coaches have backgrounds in psychology and have worked with countless individuals to achieve the results they desire. Their valuable services can help you set actionable goals and create the change you want and need to see in your life. 


Therapists are mental health specialists who help their clients identify their Mental Health Disorders, address and work through symptoms, and improve their mental health, behavior and thought patterns, and emotional well-being. Unlike life coaches, therapists need a master’s degree in psychotherapy or a related field. Therapists must also maintain a valid license to practice therapy. 

It is easy to confuse terms like therapist, coach, counselor, and psychologist. In fact, “therapist” is often used as a broad term for any mental health professional. Moreover, there are several different kinds of therapists that provide a wide range of mental health services. Knowing the distinctions between therapists and other care providers will help you find the right treatment for your own mental health needs. 

Different Fields of Therapy 

As an umbrella term, “therapist” can include a variety of professionals and disciplines, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and relationship counselors. Therapy itself can also include everything from structured treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to more freeform methods, such as art or music therapy. As a result, therapists can work in specific mental health fields—such as substance abuse or depression and anxiety—or they can pursue other careers in social work, family counseling, pediatric care, and more. 

Goals of Therapy 

As previously mentioned, therapy revolves around understanding the ways that your past affects your present. Maladaptive behaviors, negative thoughts, and other unhealthy traits often stem from past lessons or experiences; for example, a bad relationship can lead to trust issues down the line. By examining past experiences and present habits through the lens of therapy, each client can better understand the source of their Mental Health Condition. The goal of therapy is to uncover and analyze this information to improve mental and emotional well-being moving forward. 

Licensed Clinical Psychologist 

On the surface, Licensed Clinical Psychologists share a lot of similarities with therapists. Both professions help individuals with Mental Health Disorders; however, Licensed Clinical Psychologists are more focused on researching, diagnosing, and treating psychological disorders.  

Goals of Licensed Clinical Psychologists 

The goals of working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist are similar to those of working with a therapist. Licensed Clinical Psychologists seek to help their clients address and overcome the Mental Health Disorders they face. To do so, Licensed Clinical Psychologists help patients work through past experiences, talk openly and honestly about current thoughts and emotions, and build healthier thought and behavioral patterns. Working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist is a chance to receive support and guidance alongside expert medical care for your Mental Health Condition. 

An Emphasis on Research and Expertise 

One of the main factors that sets Licensed Clinical Psychologists apart is their stricter requirements. Licensed Clinical Psychologists have a doctorate-level degree and comprehensive knowledge of Psychotherapy and its related fields. They bring this level of expertise to their treatment approach by using scientific, evidence-based therapies to help their clients. These treatments can include: 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy 
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy 
  • Psychodynamic Therapy 
  • Transference-Focused Psychotherapy 

Licensed Clinical Psychologists are not the only mental health professionals who use these therapy models, but their researched, scientific treatment approach sets them apart from therapists and other practitioners.  

Knowing the differences between a life coach, a therapist, and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist is the key to achieving your goals and building a healthier life for yourself. At Blair Wellness Group, we provide both mental health and life coaching services to help our clients reach their full potential. Explore our services or book an appointment with an Irvine executive life coach when you reach out to Blair Wellness Group today. 

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