Updated: Mar 12, 2020
What's the difference between a life coach, mentor and a therapist?
So, you're thinking about getting a life coach, but not sure what the difference is? Good question, and one that I get asked quite often!
Life Coaches are your own personal cheer squad, our role is to help you to unpack, define and illustrate out your biggest dreams and goals and lay them on the table. We help you to unlock your limiting beliefs. Identify what you do that holds you back and help unlock your potential. By teaching you the tools you need to be your own best coach. To tune back into your intuition and internal navigation system. We hold space for you to set your own course. To take control of the actions and steps you need to take to get to your desired milestones in life. Ultimately, we want you to take the reins, lean into your values and the flow of life.
To sum up, a life coach - a professionally trained individual who will assist and support you to achieve your desired results, maximise your opportunities and potential. Results life coaches help you identify goals. Create actionable plans to achieve them. Your personal cheer squad, holding you accountable, keeping you focused and supported.
Mentors guide the way based on their own experience, often greater than the person they are mentoring. An expert in their field of interest, so to speak. Mentors set the parameters for the actions, and tasks required to achieve milestones and goals. Processes and steps are governed by the mentor, rather than you, the mentee. A great partnership if you have specific skills or abilities to learn.
Think of mentors as sounding boards and objective listeners to ideas and what ifs. Mentoring creates a supportive relationship designed to help you to achieve your highest potential. Based on the know-how and skills of the mentor.
Mentors encourage mentees to look at problems from all perspectives. To problem solve, find solutions and make decisions. Based on active questioning and constructive feedback.
Therapists tailor sessions to the needs and experiences of the client. Therapy is focused on the process of resolving problematic behaviours, habits, beliefs, feelings, and relationships. A therapist will actively listen and support their client, whilst modelling a healthy and positive relationship. Supported with constructive feedback and frameworks to design a healthier approach to life, whilst adhering to ethical guidelines.
The conversations had between you and your therapist, (as well as with your life coach), are confidential. The therapeutic process differs between modalities, and therapists, resulting in differing results and processes undertaken during therapy.
One thing to note, a life coach and mentor will recommend you see a therapist if they feel your needs are beyond their training. This is a good thing, don't take it personally. It's in your best interests to see the right person, for your specific needs.
WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?
All three relationships have three common themes, firstly, the relationship is built on trust and confidentiality (where specified in the mentor/mentee relationship, within the life coach and therapist relationship confidentiality is given). Secondly, life coaches, mentors and therapists want to facilitate their clients reaching their potential and achieving milestones. Last but not least, empower the client to take control and ownership of their life and actions through positive support and constructive feedback.
In other words, it really depends on you, your needs and the person you are going to work with. Fundamentally, you need to trust them. In addition to that you also must have a strong enough rapport to feel safe stepping out of your comfort zone. Secure in the knowledge that they have your back.
Unfortunately there are a number of life coaches in the market place that are not trained professionally. Therefore it's important that you do your homework to make sure they are the right fit for you. Whether that means professional accreditations, years of experience or professional membership to bodies such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
However, for therapists the guidelines are stronger and clearer, with professional training and affiliation mandatory. All in all, the therapist and their modality will help define the best course of action, if you decide therapy is for you.
Ultimately, it's up to you to listen to your internal guidance system. To follow your instinct to work with the person you feel is right you, in this moment.
I encourage you to lean in, and listen.