What is the Difference Between Psychology and Life Coaching?

What is the Difference Between Psychology and Life Coaching?

People often get confused between Psychology or therapy and life coaching. These two fields are vastly different. Clinical psychology is the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, whereas life coaching helps mentally healthy people to improve their lifestyles. Life coaching has nothing to do with treating severe psychological problems and has no strict set of rules or methods. This is why life coaching is such a vast field encompassing principles from various other fields. A life coach treats every client differently based on his/her unique needs.

How life coaching began

The concept of life coaching traces its roots back to psychology and the field of medicine although it shuns the practise of using drugs to treat people. Life coaching focuses on improving the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental well-being of a person. Unlike psychology, life coaching is a relatively new field that came about as modern life got more complicated and stressful.

People don’t want to be mediocre any more and everyone is looking to beat the rest and be the best. In such a stressful environment, people find themselves confused, lost and stressed. Life coaches or the principles of life coaching help and guide such people. In this dog eat dog, fast-paced competitive time, most of us need a little guidance and this is when a life coach and not a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst comes in handy.

Life coaching began as a practise in the 1990s in the United States of America. Slowly, it spread across different countries of the world as people began realising the benefits of having a life coach. People who underwent life coaching with the help of certified life coaches found a marked improvement in their personal and professional lives and found that they could achieve their goals by breaking free from negative thought patterns. This explains the popularity of life coaching. As life coaches deal with a wide variety of problems and issue, the practise of life coaching can be considered as a field that combines and takes the best from the following diverse streams:

  • Psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and counselling
  • Personality development
  • Corporate psychology and organizational development

Significant differences between life coaching and psychology

First and foremost, psychology is required for those who have mental troubles and need to change their lives and harmful thought patterns. Psychologists help people identify and uncover buried childhood issues to improve their present situation. Life coaches, on the other hand help people with emotional and spiritual issues and helps them improve the quality of their life. Here are some of the major differences between psychology and life coaching.

  • Desire to change

People who have a desire to change themselves and bring about optimism in their lives need a life coach. They approach life coaches out of free will with an internal desire to change. The state of mind of the client is an important difference. Life coaches deal with healthy individuals who are ambitious and fully in charge of their mental faculties. They seek the help of life coaches to help them reduce stress, learn time management skills, prioritize, organize and deal with challenges. On the other hand, clinical psychology often deals with people who are dangerous to themselves and others and who often do not realize that they need help.

  •  Structure

As mentioned earlier, life coaching is a vast and diverse field with no structured rules or treatment techniques. On the contrary, psychology has a set of core principles, defined treatment methods and has a very organized structure. Life coaching is constantly evolving and adopting new and effective techniques.

  • Convenience

One of the benefits of life coaching is that it can be done remotely. In the sense, a client can receive life coaching continuously without a break even if the life coach is not in the same city. Life coaching is more convenient and flexible as such remote treatment cannot be considered in clinical psychology.

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Francois Janse van Rensburg – Let’s-Live Master Coach – South Africa
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