Trauma Coach vs. Therapist: Know The Difference

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 7, 2023
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When addressing trauma and embarking on a healing journey, navigating the plethora of mental health resources available can be daunting. A question often arises: “Should I seek help from a trauma coach or a therapist?” Both roles are pivotal in their ways but have distinct differences.

This article aims to shed light on these distinctions, helping you make an informed decision about your mental health journey.

The Online Mental Health Review Team brings together mental health professionals and advocates with a wealth of experience in mental health challenges, therapy, and coaching.

Let’s dive in to understand the differences.

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What is a Trauma Coach?

A trauma coach, often called a professional certified coach or a life coach specializing in trauma, is a professional trained to guide individuals through healing from traumatic experiences. They work with individuals to develop coping strategies, build resilience, and progress towards a fulfilling life. Trauma coaches bring a unique perspective to the table, often incorporating their personal experiences with trauma into their coaching methods.

What is a Therapist?

On the other hand, a therapist, specifically a trauma therapist, is a licensed mental health professional who uses clinically approved therapeutic methods to treat psychological and emotional trauma. Therapists have extensive education, including a master’s or doctorate in mental health fields like psychology, social work, or counseling, and are regulated by professional boards.

Understanding the Terms: Life Coach vs. Therapist

According to BetterUp, understanding the differences between a life coach and a therapist can empower you to make informed decisions about your mental wellness and health journey.

  • Therapists focus on mental health and emotional healing: They help patients understand their behaviors and thought patterns, often concentrating on past experiences and traumas.
  • Life Coaches focus on goal setting and achievement: They are more active and talk more, providing tangible steps for future self-improvement.
  • Therapy is a licensed profession: Therapists must meet stringent standards to practice therapy, including higher education and credentialing.
  • Life Coaching is not a licensed profession: While many coaches are trained, they do not require the same level of education as therapists.
  • Coaching assumes a future focus: It delves into the question: “How?” while therapy focuses on the past and tries to answer the question: “Why?”

Therapy focuses on mental health; life coaching focuses on goals.

Let’s gently unpack the differences between therapy and other life coaching sessions, two valuable but distinct paths toward personal growth and well-being.

  • Therapy is about healing: Therapists provide a safe space to explore feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that may be causing distress, focusing on understanding and resolving these issues.
  • Life Coaching is about forward momentum: Life and career coaches work with you to identify your career goals, create action plans, and build the necessary skills.
  • Therapists diagnose and treat mental health disorders: Using their expertise, they can diagnose mental health conditions and guide their clients through treatment.
  • Life Coaches do not analyze: They help you understand your potential and overcome obstacles preventing you from reaching your goals rather than addressing mental health disorders.
  • Therapy often explores the past: It allows individuals to process past experiences and traumas to understand their current mental state.
  • Life Coaching is future-focused: It primarily concerns where you want to go and how to get there.

Skills: Therapy helps you learn to heal; coaching empowers you to achieve goals

Your therapy sessions and coaching can be transformative, but while therapy equips you with the tools to heal, coaching empowers you to chase your dreams and achieve your goals.

  • Therapy cultivates self-awareness: Through therapy, you learn to understand better your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, which is critical to personal growth and healing.
  • Coaching enhances goal-setting skills: A good coach helps you set achievable, measurable, and realistic goals, propelling you forward in multiple aspects of your life.
  • Therapy fosters emotional resilience: Over time, therapy can help you build strength against stress, trauma, and adversity, improving your overall mental health.
  • Coaching boosts confidence: Focusing on your strengths and potential can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence, enabling you to pursue your goals more assertively.
  • Therapy promotes healthy relationships: Therapy can give you the skills to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and build stronger relationships.
  • Coaching cultivates leadership skills: Coaching often focuses on enhancing leadership traits like decision-making, strategic thinking, and team building.

Past, Present and Future: The Orientation of Therapy vs. Coaching Sessions for Trauma

When dealing with trauma, therapy, and coaching have unique approaches that focus on different temporal orientations – the past, present, and future.

  • Therapy emphasizes the past and present: Therapists help individuals explore and heal from past traumas while addressing current challenges and emotions.
  • Coaching prioritizes the present and future: Coaching sessions typically concentrate on everyday situations and future goals rather than past experiences.
  • Trauma therapy: Trauma-focused therapy aims to help individuals understand, cope with, and process traumatic events from their past.
  • Coaching for trauma-informed care: While not a replacement for treatment, trauma-informed coaching can provide additional support by acknowledging and understanding the impact of trauma on an individual’s life and goals.
  • Therapy fosters healing: Therapy offers a safe space for individuals to process their trauma and promotes healing through various therapeutic techniques.
  • Coaching cultivates potential: Despite past traumas, coaching helps individuals recognize their potential, set achievable goals, and work towards a brighter future.

Are you making a choice: Therapist or Trauma Coach?

Coaching vs Therapy: Do I Need Therapy, or a Coach

The choice between a trauma coach and a therapist depends mainly on individual needs and mental health concerns.

  1. A therapist could be the best fit if you’re dealing with severe symptoms or a diagnosed mental health condition related to trauma.
  2. However, if you’ve received therapy and are now looking to rebuild your life post-trauma, working with a trauma coach could be beneficial.

Remember, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to healing from trauma. It’s about finding what works best for you. Sometimes, a combination of therapy and coaching might be the most effective path.

Trauma Coach vs. Therapist Conclusion:

Both trauma coaches and therapists play integral roles in the field of severe mental health treatment. Understanding their differences can aid you in making informed decisions about your healing journey.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to explore different avenues until you find what suits you best. Your recovery journey is uniquely yours, and there’s a whole community here ready to support you.

Stay strong, stay hopeful, and remember, healing is possible.

We hope this post has clarified the roles of trauma coaches and therapists. If you have any questions or need further clarification, please comment below.

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Best Value-Per-Dollar
BetterHelp | Online Therapy for Stressed Professionals
$60-$90 / Week

Overall, BetterHelp conveniently provides busy professionals with various live therapy options to make it the best online therapy in terms of value per dollar.

Try 10% Off Our Review

Additional Reading

For more distinctions between various mental health jobs/terms, please see our articles covering: counselor vs therapist and salary comparison, psychiatrist vs psychologist (depression), therapist vs psychologist, depression, LPC vs PsyD, clinical psychologist, counseling versus coaching, mentors vs sponsors, psychotherapy vs CBT, therapy quiz, therapist vs life coaches, hospital vs psych ward, and psychologist vs social worker.

If You’re In An Emergency:

If you find yourself in a crisis where immediate help is needed, waiting for an online therapy session may be unsafe. If your safety or the safety of others is at risk, call 911 immediately. This includes any plans of self-harm or harm to others. Alternatively, if you’re contemplating self-harm, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 – assistance is available round the clock.

For those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be reached at 800-662-HELP (4357). This line offers free, confidential assistance, information about and referrals to treatment options, and is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.

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