Life coach or psychologist, which one is the correct choice? You might be looking for help in any area and not know which way to go. I will try to explain here when is is better to choose a life coach and when better to choose a psychologist. The aim here is to help you make better choices.
First let’s start with plain definitions so as to what these occupations are.
What is a psychologist?
A psychologist is a person who studies, evaluates and interprets the behavioural and cognitive processes of people. To become a psychologist, one needs to have a legitimate degree, generally of masters or doctorate.
Setting off from this definition we can clearly say that a psychologist has studied the science of this area. Yet having studied the science doesn’t make every psychologist automatically good at his work. The most important point here is that a person who has taken the basic formation scientifically will see the errors that have big impacts and avoid them.
What is a Life Coach?
A Life Coach is a person who helps people bring out their personal goals. He then supports them in the journey of reaching these goals. This is officialised through certificates given by organizations like ICF.
Setting off from this definition we can clearly say that a Life Coach doesn’t try to solve problems. The focus of coaching is not to solve one’s psychological problems or other quality problems (problems with business life, health problems etc.)! Coaching a support mechanisms to go from point A to point B.
Is Coaching good or bad?
Coaching is of course not bad or harmful when the coaching expert is knowledgeable and qualified enough. Occupational groups like coaching are rooted in and powered by sciences that rely on human behaviour; and mostly work through interventions in a narrow area with proves effectiveness. The coach ask questions and makes one think. They don’t mingle their own personal truths or falsehoods in their work.
People can make use of coaching in different phases of their lives. They might want this to reach a higher level of motivation, to think more strategically, to increase the effects of their future goals on their lives by organizing them in a better way. Some people truly benefit from this.
Psychological Consultancy and Psychologists
A psychologist takes a much wider perspective, thinking strategically and trying to make scientific deductions during the dialogue. So he interprets, does analysis and high level synthesis, determines the correct approach based on literature and his own equipment. This approach can result on a strategical intervention of a tactical question.
Different from a coach, a psychologist sees the mind and the psyche of a person with much more clarity. He can interpret better and in more depth which feeling, which concern, which fear and which motivation turns into what kind of behaviour. Based on these interpretations, he can choose “problem solving” and increase awareness by discovering connections that the person doesn’t build himself.
Hammer and Bulldozer
You can liken the Coach to a person who carries in his equipment bag some simple tools like nails, hammer, screwdriver and nippers and does limited (yet useful if need be) directing with these. He can do some alterations in the building; the bag’s existence can be beneficial.
The psychologist, on the other hand, can be likened to an equipment storage room that has more effective tools like hammer drill, crane, ladle, and bulldozer. Both his effect and thus his responsibility is higher.
Potential of Positive Influence and Harm
The more the power of effect, the more the potential of positive effect and the more the potential of harm. A psychologist can touch upon topics closely related to foundations and pillars that one’s personality is built upon. This is why psychologists, with their high occupational influence, need to be accredited with a university degree like doctors. Again, this is why it is critical to work with a “good” psychologist.
The positive influence of Coaches who do their job well can be high on people’s lives. Yet this influence is generally concerned with reaching concrete goals rather than character, traumas, anxieties, behaviours, and ideas about life.
A good coach can be very helpful in moving from point A to point B, but it reaches its limits when it comes to discovering why a person doesn’t enjoy doing his current job.
Should I prefer a Life Coach or a Psychologist?
Based on what we have discussed so far, if you are looking to set concrete goals and get both schematic and motivational help in reaching these goals; coaching might be what you are looking for.
If a) you want to have a healthier and stronger inner world and psyche or b) you are going through a problem and want to solve it; the way to do these might be to turn to psychotherapy or psychologists.
When is psychologist and when is psychiatrist the right choice?
There is no agreement on this in the world. If you ask psychologists, they will tell you they are the right starting point. They will say they will direct you to psychiatry if necessary. But generally people who go to a psychiatrist leave the office with a tranquilizer in their hands. They never start therapy. This is based on what I observe both in people working in this field and in my surroundings.
My opinion is this: If you need support, the right starting point is a psychologist and psychotherapy process. A good psychologist already sees a case that requires serious clinical intervention and directs it to a psychiatrist.
(It must be clear in this article why I call the Career Consultancy services I provide Career Consultancy and not Career Coaching. I am trying to synthesize my knowledge on Human Behaviour & HR and Job Interviews & New Job Areas to be of more guiding support.)