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What Is The Difference Between Therapy And Life Coaching?

Should you start therapy or work with a life coach? In New York City, the options for mental health care seem endless, and it can be challenging to know which kind of practitioner you need at this stage of your life journey.

If you’re uncertain of whether to begin therapy or explore meeting with a life coach, we’re here to help you understand the major differences in these services. If you need more personalized help deciding, be sure to schedule a free consultation with our staff care coordinator. Healthy Minds NYC offers both therapy and life coaching options so whichever method of care you choose, we’re ready to work with you.

In order to help you get decide the best option for your situation, below we’ve identified the main differences between therapy and life coaching.


1. Dysfunction versus desire. Therapy focuses on reducing negative symptoms or stressors that interfere with one’s ability to live a healthy lifestyle. This process is perfect for anyone feeling burdened by pain from their past or dysfunctional patterns or behaviors in the present they feel unable to conquer. Life coaching is goal-focused and sessions are centered on helping clients reach specific objectives or desires.

2. Emphasis on the past versus focus on the future. The degree to which one’s past is explored in therapy depends on the concerns of the client and treatment methods of the therapist. However, therapy always requires a history of the presenting issue. Life coaching is focused on the present experience of the client and future goals. Therefore, a clinical diagnosis and history of the situation are not always needed. Our staff life coach is also trained as a therapist and if she determines more therapeutic help is required, she can refer you to another mental health professional to provide the appropriate level of care.


3. Regular weekly sessions versus open-ended sessions. Therapy is best provided through routine weekly sessions during which clients can find stability and build on the insights they are gaining from week to week. The length of treatment varies for every client, however, it’s not unusual for people to spend months or even years meeting with their therapist. In life coaching, sessions can occur more sporadically, and the frequency or length of treatment can vary greatly depending on the goals of the individual client. In our practice, we allow clients to book individual coaching sessions or choose bundled packages that may be more cost effective.

4. Insurance coverage versus self-pay fee structure. Providing therapy requires a license from the state of New York and the cost of therapeutic services may be offset by an insurance carrier. Be sure to visit our Insurance page to learn how we work with insurance benefits for therapy. Life coaching is an unlicensed field, though our life coach does hold a credential with the Paterson Center and a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Life coaching services are not covered by insurance.

5. In Person versus virtual sessions. Therapy sessions typically take place in person due to the sensitive nature of the therapeutic process. Despite the popularity of tele-therapy, nothing quite replaces the value of what happens when a therapist and client are physically in the room together. At Healthy Minds NYC, we do offer our clients the option for virtual therapy or medication management sessions at the discretion of the therapist based on the health of the client and current treatment goals. However, the preference is always to provide care in person. Life coaching sessions can occur virtually by video or phone, allowing clients to more easily integrate their coaching sessions into their work day or regular life rhythm.


If you’re looking to begin any services with Healthy Minds NYC, the easiest way to start is by scheduling a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation with our care coordinator. During this call we’ll help determine the best course of care with you, explore your payment options and schedule your first appointment. Our goal is to speed you along your journey toward health with the best process that meets your unique needs.

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