Navigating Coaching & Therapy: 3 Things to Consider

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You’re wrestling with decisions and hoping to move forward. You realize you need help but aren’t sure who to ask. It’s about navigating coaching and therapy and you don’t know which is right for you.

We’re here to help. There’s a time for coaching and a time for clinical therapy. We’ve dropped some tips to get you started so you receive the right support and get on your way to your goals.

Ready to sort out what’s best for you? Let’s go.

Life Coaching

Life coaching is a growing field with specialties popping up all over. Here at FRC, we specialize in coaching first responders and military, but certified life coaches can work with anyone on any topic. It’s about teaching your coaching partner—your client—how to navigate their challenges by asking the right questions and finding new perspectives.

A successful coach doesn’t give advice or suggestions but helps coaching partners find the path to success by asking thought-provoking questions, holding them accountable, and encouraging achievable goals.

Coaching focuses on the here and now, looking at where you are, where you want to be, and how you want to get there. It’s not about the past but the present and goals for the future. How are you going to get that job? What can you do to heal your relationship? What steps will move you closer to your goal?


By law, therapy is done by a licensed clinical therapist, board-certified and trained to offer advice and guidance to their patients. Therapy dives into the past, assessing its effect on the present, and seeks to resolve past disturbances while teaching patients how to move forward. While some therapists use life coaching techniques, therapists do not leave solutions in the hands of their clients but tell them what should be done when, how, and with whom.

While therapy is great for those who need more direct support, it doesn’t empower a person to seek out their answers like coaching does. However, therapy is sometimes the way to go for those stuck and unable to answer those coaching questions. Maybe your past trauma is overtaking your thoughts. You can’t resolve an incident or relationship to move forward. You’re not feeling safe due to depression and suicidal ideation.

So, how can you know where to go when navigating coaching and therapy?

Navigating Coaching and Therapy

When navigating coaching and therapy, think of therapy like going to the doctor’s office for a twisted ankle and coaching like going to the gym. You need to resolve the ankle injury before you can do much in the gym. Once you’re healed, you go to the gym to get stronger so injuries are less likely.

While coaching is beneficial, sometimes therapy is necessary to resolve more serious concerns. And while therapy could help in many cases, sometimes coaching is more empowering and helps a person choose their path more efficiently.

Here are three things to consider when deciding your path to a better you.


Are you safe? If you’re suffering from PSTI or any trauma that’s causing depression, uncontrolled anger, or suicidal ideation, you should seek out a licensed therapist. Life coaches have signs to watch for and ask the right questions to recommend therapy or other interventions, but if you know you’re not okay, seek licensed help right away. Coaches are not clinicians and cannot diagnose or treat, so this distinction is the most important.

[If you’re having thoughts of suicide or feeling unsafe, dial 988 immediately to speak with someone.]


If past trauma is affecting your daily life and preventing you from moving forward, you should consider seeking therapy. The deeper the scars, the more you need to have a licensed therapist to work through that trauma. Coaching does not work through the past but therapy can help you accept your trauma and heal from the pain. That said, life coaching can help you manage some trauma by giving you some tools to build up coping strategies or boost resiliency going forward. So, if you’re past trauma is well managed, you can try life coaching and see if that gets you where you want to go. If needed, a life coach will recommend therapy.


Are you feeling ambitious toward new goals or struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Sometimes restlessness is a sign of needing to move on and sometimes a sign that we have unresolved issues. Knowing the difference can help you navigate coaching or therapy. It’s okay to feel unhappy about a job or relationship, but if it’s stemming from an emotional issue—phobias, anger, anxiety—that you can’t get past, you may need to work through it with therapy. Otherwise, a life coach can help you identify the right path.

Why Not Both?

In truth, you can see both a therapist and a life coach. It’s a great dynamic in which you can heal from the past and work towards your goals now and in the future. While the two may not be talking to each other, you can benefit from both modalities by addressing multiple issues simultaneously. After all, your life has many aspects to it, so why not address them from various angles to best serve your needs more efficiently?

That said, sometimes unresolved issues or deep trauma need to be fully addressed before you can benefit from coaching. Your coach or therapist will help you determine this.

Finding Your Way

Now that you have a clearer distinction between the roles of a therapist and a life coach, you can better decide which is right for you. You need to consider where you are now. Are you safe from thoughts of suicide and deep depression? Are you healing from past trauma? Is there a goal you’re trying to reach? Are you simply unsatisfied with your life and looking for something more?

In short, therapy is about healing, and life coaching is about goal-setting and success. Often the two cross, but it’s important to know the difference so you can find the support and solution that fits your needs best. If you need to talk it through with someone while navigating coaching and therapy, we’re listening. Reach out today.