Let’s discuss this big topic of coaching vs. therapy, different therapies, and more than that, let’s unpack what therapy is! If you understand this, you will understand which therapy is right for you, and hey, it may be a version that is more commonly known as coaching. Let’s go…
There are associations that accredit and recognise psychologists, counsellors, various therapists, AND coaches. This is because we all want to improve the life of our patients/clients through our own therapeutic approaches. So how does that work?
Right, let’s get down to it. This article is not intended to be bias or pick favourites. I am merely stating general information to begin with, in order to enter a larger and deeper discussion. Before we go any further, let us come to terms with the fact that a lot of these definitions or attempts to define a treatment, can be opinions and also up to interpretation. But, some things are just facts, and this is where the debate lies, after all…
Also note, I have made comments in the past about certain people not being qualified to make psychological assessments. I still stand by that. Unfortunately, I have way too often been faced with people who have training that may seem similar to those in therapeutic or clinical fields, but simply do not have the right level of study and understanding. Be careful of this. Teachers cannot assess your child. This is why schools try to have resources that go beyond educators. I hold this topic close to my heart because I have often seen children suffer under the misunderstanding and misdirection of teachers who simply were not qualified to make assessments. Teachers are taught to teach, not to diagnose or assess, and much less to treat. If people in the field of therapy and mental health can be compared and criticised, than so can those not even in the field…
This is not to say that Educators are not valuable or essential, especially that I know some who are absolutely phenomenal, I am just stating that we all must realise where our limits are and when let other professionals take over.
Where I am coming from:
My decision to not become a Psychologist has to do with the work I believe in and what I want to offer to my clients. I have no doubt in my background, knowledge, and continuous study. I want to offer more than CBT, more than psychological counselling, more than simply mental and emotional therapy. I want to take all that, grow it, and combine it with what I am learning in my Yoga Teacher Training.
I am taking it to the next level by incorporating Yoga Therapy. Certifications I am working toward at the moment are the International Yoga Alliance Yoga Instructor and the International Association of Yoga Therapists. (Several different bodies recognise this whether you are in Canada or the UK but they are basically the same and they are therapies).
I have found a school in British Colombia right where my boyfriend and I were planning to move that could help me advance in my academic and therapeutic training. So, that to me felt like a sign…;)
With my background in Clinical Psychology and my graduate training in Counselling and CBT, as well as my current training as a Yoga Instructor and Yoga Therapist, I have gained a valuable set of skills, an educated insight, and a technique of analysis and critical thinking. Nevertheless, we are NEVER DONE LEARNING! No one knows everything. Absolutely no one on earth. However, it is important to know that people must be trained and/or educated in a specific field in order to offer you a service for which you will pay. This does not mean that a friend who has always given good advice is not intelligent or knowledgeable, it just means that for those of us who work in mental health, or therapeutic fields, we must have something to show for it beyond being good listeners, insightful, empathetic, and willing to help. Those qualities are some of the most paramount in our work, but they are not everything. More to the point, legally and ethically, you must cover your bases.
I have a degree in Psychology during which I specialised in Clinical and Forensic Psychology. This does NOT make me a psychologist. I have graduate level training in Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This has added to my work with clients. I am still not a psychologist. In fact, I don’t want to be! I think that there is more to therapy than what we have come to accept. Not that long ago, you only needed a degree in psychology or psycho-education to be called a psychologist. That’s fine. I think that if you educate yourself enough around and after that, and have the true qualities of a therapist, you will go a long way with your patients/clients. However, the laws have changed because it made it too easy for anyone to just start giving people advice and charging large sums for it. It does not mean that those qualified psychologists before we all stupid or not worthy, it just means that people took advantage. But that still happens today, even with the laws and regulations. Why? Because people have information and “knowledge” freely at their disposal, and information in the wrong hands will lead to a false sense of knowledge and understanding so strong that it will do more harm than good.
Now, let’s break it down.
The difference between therapy or counselling, as it were, and coaching is that the former focuses on the past, the present, and the future, whereas coaching focuses on the present and the future. The latter is more goal orientated and action-based. Counselling is about untangling the triggers from one’s past, understanding the actions of today, and trying to change the actions of tomorrow. Coaching is less concerned with what happened before and more focused on taking you to where you need to be tomorrow.
This being said, this does not mean that some coaches do not focus on the past. I for one do! I want a well-rounded and educated image and understanding of my clients. I 1000% want to know everything. This is how I help them get to where they want to be!
Coaching in life came from coaching in sports and such things because it was about taking a beginner and training to become pros or whoever they desired. It was goal orientated. Counselling has always been about deeper issues and needing to examine these so that one could get to where they need to be.
So what is therapy?
Well, in common terms, a therapist is a psychologist, but this is not always the case.
Many psychologists have PhDs. More and more, these days, in fact. What’s more is that they often work as academics, professors, or even in clinics and hospitals because they wants to advance their studies and scientific research. Many have said that their practice is secondary and many have also said they don’t even have a private practice. Regardless, psychologists can absolutely be therapists, but you do not have to do a psychologist to be a therapist.
Here is why.
If you decide that you want to specialise in counselling of trauma patients, you may not even need a PhD! If you want to specialise in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for addiction or trauma, you can simply have graduate studies or specific professional training.
Therapy is an umbrella terms for any work that brings one person through healing and to a healthier and happier place. Whether you are a Yoga Therapist and use Yoga as your healing approach, or whether you use Hypnotherapy, or Psychotherapy, you are a therapist. There is Physiotherapy, Art Therapy, Yoga Therapy, CBT Therapy, Psychotherapy, Massage Therapy, and the list goes on.
In other words, you do not have to be registered with your country’s society of Psychologists (whatever it may be) to be a therapist. There are several other internationally recognised bodies of therapists and coaches.
What’s the take-away?
Well, there are many answers to that question, in this case. The main ones are that therapy is not limited to psychology, as it were. Secondly, not all psychologists are therapists. Also, coaching CAN be a form of therapy. Lastly, if you are thinking of a career in mental health, therapy, coaching, or anything related to this, you have to be informed, educated, and knowledgeable. There are associations that accredit and recognise psychologists, counsellors, various therapists AND coaches. This is because we all want to improve the life of our patients/clients through our own real therapeutic approaches.