Mental health awareness has been rising steadily over the past several years. This is good for a number of reasons—help has become more accessible, there is less stigma associated with mental illness, and individuals feel less pressure to ‘suck it up’ and go without help. Awareness also means there are more resources available for individual and family support. Life coaching, and specialized coaching, is a rising, popular, goal-oriented option that might be more suited to your needs than therapy. So, should you see a therapist, or a life coach for support? The answer lies with you!

What is the difference between a life coach and a therapist?

First, what makes life coaching, or coaching of a specified type, different from standard therapy? When you go to see a therapist, your sessions will likely focus on the treatment of an issue such as anxiety, stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, relationship issues, grief, addiction, or more. You will self-reflect on healing deep-rooted wounds. Over multiple sessions a therapist will evaluate you to find a diagnosis, provide guidance, and develop a treatment plan. Another way to look at it is this: With a therapist, you will focus on ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions. For example, what makes you feel most anxious?  Why are you afraid of intimacy? What gets in the way of good communication with your partner? Your therapist will help you gain insight so you can answer these questions, and began to change from within.

Conversely, while life coaching may touch on similar issues, it has a more future-focused, goal-oriented approach. When you sit down with a life coach, your question of focus will not be on the reason or source of an issue, but more like ‘how can I improve this aspect of my life?’ or ‘what action can I take?’

A life coach won’t focus on giving advice, or making a diagnosis, but rather will work with you to come up with, decide on and implement daily solutions that work for you. If you are willing to put the work in and commit to making changes every day to better your future, you might be a good candidate for coaching. A coach will help you identify specific goals and create a plan of action to see them through. These goals can be vague, specific, small or big. “I would like to feel less stress in my daily life.” “I would like to communicate better with my spouse.” “I would like to work towards a promotion at work.”

If you’re not sure whether therapy or coaching is best for you, try asking yourself, “Is there a specific goal that I would like to achieve, with the support of an experienced coach? Or is there an emotional issue or a trauma from my past holding me back from achieving this goal that I want to delve into with a therapist?”

Of course, there is always an option of seeing both!

Introducing our Life and ADHD/Neurodiversity Coach

Family & Child Development is pleased to announce the newest member of our team—Jennifer Kelly, Life Coach and ADHD/neurodiversity Coach.  A recent graduate of JST Coaching and Training, LLC, Jennifer works with clients struggling with their daily schedules, routines and other neurodiverse issues related to a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Executive Functions. Through the coaching process, Jennifer is able to work with clients who may feel “stuck” or who believe that they have not yet learned how to maximize their complete potential—both professionally and personally.

“I had the life experiences and the desire to become a life coach,” Jennifer says. “After working at a marriage and family therapy office for six years, I felt that obtaining a Life Coaching certification would allow me to transition to the next level. I use my knowledge of assisting clients and families with educational or mental health concerns and continue to work with them in a specialized, professional manner.”

Jennifer chose to train specifically for coaching neurodiverse clients because she identified a need for professional assistance that these individuals or families often struggle to find. When Jennifer begins with a new client, she asks them to identify 3-4 main goals for themselves. In additional sessions, she revisits each of those goals with the client to highlight areas of improvement.

“We will work together to design your roadmap. Each session we will discuss whatever topic you come in with, whatever is most important for you that day. We will talk through your goal for that session and have you walk away with action items that you will put in place to reach your goal,” Jennifer says. “We will continue to work on positive life changes, always moving forward and changing the actions that don’t work for you. By continuing to come up with actions that work and altering your roadmap, you will successfully get where you need to go!”

It is important to note that coaching sessions are often not covered under insurance plans. You should check with your company before booking with a coach. If you aren’t covered, that’s okay. Prior to beginning coaching sessions, Kelly will meet with a potential client, at no charge, to gather background information and to discuss fees. She is amenable to working with clients on a sliding scale to make coaching affordable as an out-of-pocket expense.

If you are curious to read more about life coaching versus therapy, check out Angelika Pokovba’s article titled Maybe You Need a Life Coach, Not a Therapist—Here’s the Difference. In it, Pokovba writes “You may also benefit from a licensed therapist with coaching experience—or vice-versa—who can straddle those two needs: unpacking the inner self and also working to make exchanges and decisions externally (two needs that are often very much intertwined and reliant on one another). In many ways, coaches help build mental fitness. It can offer a blueprint and empower you to achieve important goals step by step.”

If you are interested in meeting with Jennifer or have further questions about coaching, we hope that you will contact us.  We would be happy to discuss the benefits of coaching, therapy or any kind of support that we have available at Family & Child Development.