Making the Transition from Therapist to Life Coach

  Wednesday, October 13, 2021

When people say therapy isn't for everyone, sometimes that can apply to therapists themselves who are looking for a change in their practice. As a therapist, you spend years equipping yourself with a certified license and degree for different types of disorders and psychotherapies that can treat those disorders. After that, you spend tons of money and hard work building a practice that attracts clientele. No doubt, this takes years off your life. After all that hard work, it can be unsettling when you start to realize that maybe this line of work isn't what you want to do. After decades of hard work, some therapists have stated that this is not how they want to help people. So what can you do? You are still interested in making a difference in people's lives, but not as a mental health professional. 

We've seen a significant shift in the mental health industry during the last decade. Where earlier there was cynicism about coaching, we now have a better-informed public aware of the advantages of working with life coaches. Rather than competing, the fields of counseling and coaching are increasingly collaborating. If you think that this transition might be a big step for you, it doesn't have to be. We have just the right ways to help you ease in with this transition from being a therapist to becoming a life coach. 

Why Make The Transition?

A therapist's mission is to assist the patient in comprehending their own internal emotional and psychological workings, which either contribute to or obstruct their progress toward their objectives. In contrast, life coaches are professionals who help their clients achieve personal or professional goals. While approaches to life coaching vary, most focus on personal empowerment, motivation, and strategies to help clients define and reach their dreams. 

Nick Hatter, a top life coach in London, says: "A traditional therapist, however, is more likely to want to keep to the rules and do things by the book, and they might see their clients as "patients," which can make people feel they're talking to a clinician rather than a human being. This, however, can be very off-putting and the opposite of empathetic, cathartic and healing or empowering." He believes that life coaches are more open with their clients, share their personal stories and develop deeper relationships. As a therapist, you are often constrained by ethics and the law not to involve yourself in your patients' lives. 

Life coaches have the upper hand of completely immersing themselves in the therapy. They have more liberty in terms of the treatment paths they want their patients to take. Life coaches can be as creative as they wish, benefiting their clients and increasing their job satisfaction. 

Hence therapists have been making the transition, mainly because of curiosity, exhaustion, or a desire to work with clients more freely in private practice. 

Letting Go of All That You Know

The first step in the change is to let go of the image of a therapist. This change does not require that you must sacrifice a significant aspect of yourself. You have a richness of theoretical and practical knowledge as a psychotherapist that can help your work as a coach. It's not about letting go of your previous experience when you transition to coaching; it's about learning, expanding, and utilizing new tools. You'll have to learn how to be a life coach. It's a distinct field with its own set of scientific principles.

Therapists assist clients in exploring and processing past events and influences and how those events may influence their current behavior. The goal of the procedure is to help people heal and return to mental health and wellness. Coaching assumes a certain level of emotional well-being and concentrates on the here and now. As a coach, you'll help customers define a future vision, set goals, and create a tactical action plan to attain their objectives. You can help clients with both their career and personal life. Finally, a life coach can help people regardless of what's going on in their life.

A good analogy is that coaching can help you run faster, but you will have to get therapy if your leg is broken. 

You Are The Brand 

You, as a therapist, are a member of a broader medical system. To recruit clients, you have a network to tap into. There's also a requirement that "you" remain unnoticed. You're in a role, and there's an expectation that you'll keep your identity separate from the job you're doing. As a coach, you're moving into a position where you'll have a lot more personal exposure. 

Clients frequently choose to work with you because of your narrative, who you are, and how you present yourself in the world.

When signing up for your service, your customers don't want to be sent a branded brochure with pages to read. Instead, they want a fully immersive experience that allows them to get to know you. The client must create a proper connection with a life coach. 

They need to see your personality shine through, whether you're meeting your clients online or in person. It's akin to leading by example. Nobody wants life to advise someone who doesn't seem to be able to handle it themselves.

The Skills You Need

As a well-trained coach, you may assist a person in not only discovering but also creating themselves. Even though coaching is a distinct profession, some abilities are naturally transferable from therapy.

Empathy: Therapists are already aware of the need for empathy and how to connect with people's feelings without being involved in their stories. Empathy is a valuable skill that life coaches employ.

Observation and Reflection: Therapists have a natural talent for noticing and reflecting. They are keen on finding out the truth from the drama. These abilities can be applied to various aspects of the coaching process.

All contemplation and observations of words, language, patterns, and physical alterations are employed in coaching to support the client's self-awareness, truth, and interpretive ownership.

Openness: The relationship between a life coach and a client is a two-way street. As a therapist, you may have been more inclined not to share your personal experiences. However, it can be an excellent way to get your clients to open up in life coaching. 

Creativity: People gravitate towards life coaches because the exercises and assignments put them out of their comfort zones. Hence, the more creative you are with each client's journey, the greater their interest. 

Helping Patients Going Through Recovery

People recovering from mental health disorders often find themselves down in the dumps regarding their personal or professional life. Treatment for their disorders focuses on their traumas and life experiences. However, therapists don't provide tools to create new opportunities for their lives, focusing on the person's social life. 

That's where life coaching comes in and where you can continue to be invested in their recovery. Of course, it is up to the client to continue your relationship and move it to a new level. As a therapist, you might have worked with patients suffering from anxiety, depression, or different mental health disorders. Once you start your practice as a life coach, you won't provide them with psychotherapies under that pretense. However, you can still be a part of their recovery

Life coaches also hold clients accountable for achieving their objectives. Clients can have a terrific support structure in place if they hire a life coach. Social support helps you build stress resistance, which is especially crucial if you suffer from anxiety. They also assist in keeping track of a client's development. When you're alone, it's easy to become discouraged. It's easy to lose sight of positive outcomes and growth. Every step of the journey, a life coach will be at your side. They'll be able to remind you of your progress and point you in the proper way.

Coaching aids in the development of confidence and empowers a person to be mindful and positive in the way that it should be for progress. When a person is feeling down or fragmented, having the individualized assistance of a professional coach might be a lifesaver. A life coach knows how to get that person to a point where they can make excellent judgments for themselves. 

All these factors make it easy to take on clients going through mental disorders, not as a sole form of treatment, but as a complementary treatment to go along with the psychotherapy.


Transitioning from a therapist to a life coach is a 180 degree shift in your career path, but you will find that if you see it through it will be worth it. Your job satisfaction will have a direct effect on your client's well being and happiness, and that is something you definitely should go for. 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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