Do I want a psychologist or a life coach?

Mental health is something that is starting to become more valued in modern society as awareness and attitudes are developing. There are lots of different people that you can see to help support or coach you through hard times and towards your dream life.

Traditionally, psychologists have been the professionals that we go to when we need a little or a lot of extra support managing some of the challenges that life throws our way. Life coaching is a relatively new field that encourages people to seek support to approach their goals and build their dream lives.

There are big differences between the two fields but let me say this first. No matter whose help you invest in, talking through things and verbalizing your feelings has been shown to have a significant therapeutic effect on the brain. So talking about your emotions, thoughts and feelings is always encouraged, whether to a family member, friend, life coach, counsellor or psychologist. The willingness to be open and vulnerable, gives you a baseline from which you can grow, create and fundamentally become more effective at living your own life. So, talking and seeking advice on how to master your problems and approach your life is always encouraged.

The advice, coaching or support that you get back can vary in degrees however. That’s why it is important to choose a person who is going to best suit you and a person that you are most willing and likely to build a relationship with. Someone that is within your budget and someone who understands you, what you are going through and someone you feel you can connect openly and honestly with.

The main difference between a life coach and a psychologist is in how they are trained and qualified. Qualified psychologists in Australia have completed a four year certified university degree and then go on to complete varying higher level qualifications in psychology such as a masters or doctorate degree and are registered with the national board of psychology. This is a very thorough training process and continued registration requires continuing professional development. Life coaches on the other hand are encouraged to obtain a certification through an accredited program, however the profession is not regulated, so no qualification or national board registration is regulated.

With so much study, it means that psychologists have a deep understanding of thoughts, moods and behaviours as they have spent years understanding the human mind. That means that they can help you to develop self-awareness around your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and the complex relationships between them. This knowledge and awareness can help you to identify key behaviours and patterns to foster growth and development as you move forward. Life coaches, however, aim to motivate, offer emotional support and cultivate confidence within their clients. This means that psychologists may be able to delve deeper into the issue and use evidence-based practice to support their therapies, while life coaching may use goal creation or development of a new path as their main modality to promote better living.

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