By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach

What is the difference between life coaching and therapy?

“Are you going to force me to talk about my mom?”

As someone who uses alignment life coaching AND therapy to help improve her state of being and move into a life with more joy and ease, I feel well-equipped to explain this. Years of therapy have helped me to become aware of past heartaches, the painful experiences and stories that show up in my day-to-day subconsciously—like when there’s a “jerk at work,” I now know my body goes into a panic because it immediately translates that as “dad is mad,” which then triggers a bunch of unhelpful people-pleasing behaviours. 

What coaching teaches me is what to do next. “So now what?” I’ve noticed what’s happening (self-awareness), but what can I do differently so that I don’t get stuck in that People Pleaser version of me that trespasses her own boundaries all the time to appease others?

You can’t control your past, but in coaching, we teach you how to notice the thought or feeling that creates that typical-for-you reaction or behaviour—the one that’s become an auto-pilot reflexive habit—and how to DECIDE to do things differently so that you can have a new result or outcome. We practice these new behaviours through daily exercises that help shift your mindset and open up a world of new options you never thought were possible for you.

I like to think of an infinity loop, with my “self” in the present moment as the crossover point in the middle. Therapy allows me to explore the past—how to care for Past Me and integrate those lessons and stories into the present. Coaching teaches me to explore what’s possible in my future— how to care for Future Me in the now by integrating those lessons and stories into the present. Meditation allows me to see that “past” and “future” are just thoughts. All we have is the NOW—that’s why the words “present” and “gift” share a definition!

So do I need a life coach or a therapist?

Life coaches and therapists are both professionals who work with you to help you improve your life and reach your goals, but they differ in approach, focus, treatment, and regulation.

Approach: A therapist will often want to dig into a client’s underlying emotions, behaviours, and past experiences. The goal of therapy is to help show a fulsome picture of why certain patterns emerge and to help the client understand and address the root causes of their challenges.

Focus: Life coaches focus on helping you develop a plan and take action to achieve your goals. We teach you to explore the possibilities of life that you might be closing yourself off to. Similar to therapists, we challenge you on your thoughts and assumptions to make sure you can see where you’re keeping yourself stuck. 

Treatment: Life coaches aren’t diagnosing or treating you for any specific condition. In life coaching, we see most “problems” as circumstances that need an intentional shift in thinking to create feelings and actions that change your results.

Regulation: Life coaching is not a regulated service. Therapy is a regulated profession, and therapists must be licensed and follow a code of ethics.

In coaching, we’re obsessed with your future. While we honour your past, the focus of a coach is to help you set and achieve specific, concrete goals. We get you to those goals by helping you understand your existing thoughts, mindsets, and beliefs and transform them to align with the values, results, and lifestyle you want to achieve and experience. Want a new job in six months? Ready to start dating again? Committed to tackling your clutter? We are your best accountability buddies!

Taking care of Future You looks like investing in who you will be 5, 10, 20+ years from now—today. What seeds of intention will you plant now that you can harvest when you need them down the road? How can you build strength, confidence, resilience, and the deep belief that you won’t let yourself down, so that when the rough patches of life inevitably come, you can approach them with equanimity and the foundational belief that you’ve got this?

The Kickstartology Alignment Framework is designed to help you build the skills, habits, and mindsets to build a life you love. Flexible enough to work for everyone but specific to your beliefs and circumstances, we show you how to plug YOUR life into the framework to figure out what solution will work for you specifically right now. It’s that simple.

And while old stories may appear as you make connections in your brain, our program is designed to process them quickly, with no forced sharing. So if you’re nervous about looking into the shadows, fear not; we’re headed forward. When the past shows up, we treat it with compassion and kindness, teach you how to notice it, and use that awareness to move ahead. If digging through the past is something you’d like to do, we encourage you to try a licensed therapist, but that’s totally different and supplementary to what we offer. 

Our mission is to move you into a life that thrills you, faster than you ever thought imaginable.

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