If you are trying to decide whether you would benefit most from therapy or coaching, hopefully the information below will be helpful for you when making that choice.
Therapists are trained professionals that work with people who are experiencing disruptions in their lives due to incomplete or interrupted childhood or adult developmental processes from abuse, neglect, or trauma. Many people seek therapists when they feel life becomes overwhelming or unmanageable. They typically enter a year-long, or more, relationship with a therapist who then begins to help the client uncover the wounding, conscious or unconscious, which may be causing deep pain, dysfunction, or mental health issues. Sometimes a diagnosis is involved and therapists might coordinate care with a psychiatrist who dispenses medications. Quite a few therapists are now trained in specialized mind/body methods, such as somatic experiencing, EMDR, and Hanna Somatics, as well as traditional cognitive models, to address trauma more holistically.
Life coaches work with people who have acquired a level of stability, however feel they are not thriving. A coach collaborates with their client to help them connect with their inner resources to discover their gifts, develop goals, achieve life balance, and realize their highest potential. This does not mean that life coaches do not work with people who have experienced trauma or childhood abuse or neglect. It is rare that a person has not experienced some form of trauma, and a life coach should be well-trained in recognizing whether a client is a good fit for coaching versus therapy. People who come to coaching usually have had some therapy and have addressed interruptions in childhood or adult development with a therapist. In fact many therapists are acquiring coach training so they may work with their clients at this level, or they are refering them on to a life coach after appropriate psychological work is completed.
In my coaching program, I use the the hero's journey, which the great mythologist Joseph Campbell brought to our awareness through his book, A Hero With A Thousand Faces, as a map of the territory we cover when coaching clients to their unique greatness. As Patricia R Adson, Phd, wrote in her book, Depth Coaching, Discovering Archetypes for Empowerment Growth, and Balance, therapists generally prepare clients for the hero's journey, and coaches aid in identifying the call to the hero's journey and act as guides along the journey.