Therapy or Life Coaching?

Your Quiz Results

Therapy and Coaching: Two Effective Approaches to Growth and Positive Change

The “Therapy or Coaching” quiz you just took assessed your current functioning in these key areas:

  • Motivation

  • Locus of Control

  • Readiness For Change

  • Internal Resources

  • “Coachability”

  • The Presence or Absence of Current Mental Health Symptoms

If your scores were high in the coaching domain of this assessment, it’s likely that you’ll get positive results with life coaching.

However, even if your scores on the coaching domain are high, if you are currently experiencing significant mental health symptoms, it’s vital for you to seek out evidence-based therapy from a qualified, local mental health professional. Once your symptoms are resolved, life coaching can help you create positive change in your life, career and relationships.

Your scores were emailed to you after you took the quiz, check your inbox. Would you like to take this quiz again, or share it? Here’s the link again.

Read on, for a detailed discussion of what your quiz answers mean, as well as some recommendations about the next steps that will move you forward.

When It’s Time For Coaching

If you scores were high in the coaching domain, and your therapy indicator score was low, it means you’d probably be better served by coaching. Here’s why:

You have the answers within you.

You just need support in actualizing your full potential. Coaching can help you channel your frustration into motivation, and ultimately life-changing action. Having the accountability of a coach may help you maintain your motivation, and follow through. Therapy, on the other hand, may not provide you with the specific guidance, direction, and accountability that will help you stay motivated.

You’re seeking clarity and direction.

The first step of successful coaching is helping you get clarity about who you are, and what kind of life you want to create. Expert coaches use a variety of tools and assessments to help you get insight into yourself,  your values,  and your strengths. Once you have a powerful vision for your life, the path to attaining it often becomes clear. Then you can begin taking steps towards creating your ideal reality. Therapy, in contrast, may be helpful in getting insight about yourself, but will not necessarily emphasize movement towards specific goals.

Your goals are related to personal growth and positive change — not treatment of mental health issues.

The reason you’re seeking to get involved in personal growth work is to make improvements in your life, rather than getting behavioral healthcare for the treatment of a mental health condition. These personal goals are often better achieved by positive, action oriented coaching. (As opposed to therapy, which is geared towards the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions.)

Having guidance, direction, and a plan will unleash your potential.

Big changes can feel overwhelming when you legitimately don’t know where to start. Coaching is a collaborative process of strategic solution-finding that helps you see options you never knew you had, and break huge “mountains” down into manageable steps. Coaching can help you cut through the “analysis paralysis” and start taking action.

You need help to stay focused and on track.

One of the biggest benefits of coaching is having an accountability partner. Having assignments, deadlines, and someone who cares about whether you follow through can help energize you to do the things you might not do otherwise. Making commitments to your coach will help you follow through, and get things done.

Structure works for you.

If you like having a road map to success, you’re going to love coaching. Whether you’re looking to make changes in your career, your relationship, or within yourself, coaching can give you direct, useful skills and strategies that will change your life. Coaching is all about taking meaningful action to create positive change. In life coaching, relationship coaching, and career coaching, you’ll have homework assignments, and the opportunity to review, re-evaluate, and refocus your strategy as you move closer to your goals. Knowing what you need to do next helps you feel in control, and being able to track goals lets you know you’re making progress.

Your dissatisfaction with your current circumstances is creating motivation for change.

Maybe you haven’t been feeling great lately, but that is due to the fact that there is currently a “gap” between where you are and where you want to be. You feel stressed, worried, or down because of your current life circumstances rather than due to an underlying mental health issue. If you changed your circumstances, you’d probably feel much better. Coaching is often the most direct route to creating those changes.

High quality, positive, action oriented coaching can help you understand what you’ve been doing that hasn’t been working, and then teaches you concrete skills and strategies to get better results. You set goals for your life, and then your coach will help you develop a plan of action to attain them.

You want to take action to improve your life.

People who do well in coaching are the ones who have confidence and energy to take positive action in their lives. If you have a “personal development” mindset, you’re already doing things to take care of yourself. You have a strong, solid foundation that coaching can build upon.  You’re used to taking action and facing challenges head on. Coaching will provide you with direction, support, accountability and tools to continue on your journey of personal growth and self actualization.

You’re seeking self-awareness and a renewed sense of control over your destiny.

Both therapy and life coaching can provide you with self-awareness and insight. In fact, all high quality coaching must start with self-discovery in order to create the clarity and confidence that you need to take action. A primary difference between coaching and therapy is that gaining insight and self-acceptance is often where therapy ends. In contrast, coaching views insight as the beginning, and uses it as the foundation for actual, concrete change.



When It’s Time For Therapy

If you are dealing with more significant issues or a psychiatric diagnosis, coaching is not appropriate. Coaching is for personal growth, not treatment for mental health symptoms. In fact, when you try life coaching when you really need therapy it can make things worse. If you answered “true” to any of the questions below, we recommend that you seek the support of a mental health professional who practices evidenced-based therapy, and who is licensed in your state. This will help you heal, and strengthen yourself so that you can take positive action in the future.

Read on for a more detailed explanation of what your answers may indicate, and what to do next.

Q10. “I am seeking treatment for a diagnosable psychiatric condition such as clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, a substance use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.”

If you answered “true,” coaching is probably not appropriate. Coaching is for the purpose of personal growth and positive change, but it is not a treatment for any mental health issue. If you are seeking treatment for a psychiatric condition, it is imperative that you get involved with an excellent therapist who has the skills, training and experience to help you heal. While, in theory, it can be appropriate to do coaching in conjunction with therapy (for example, working with a relationship coach to improve your relationship while you’re also engaged in therapy to manage an anxiety disorder) is is often much more difficult to make real and lasting change in your life until you’ve resolved underlying mental health issues.

The good news is that there are many different types of evidence-based psychotherapy that have been shown by research to be very effective in helping you manage and overcome common mental health conditions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (the kind of evidence based therapy we practice at Growing Self). The first step on the path of recovery is to meet with a good therapist who is licensed in your state of residence, and who has experience in the specific diagnosis for which you are seeking help. 

You may also consider speaking with your primary care doctor, in order to get their recommendations, referrals, and support. They can often help you get connected with a good, local therapist who specializes in the treatment of your diagnosis. Your general practitioner is also often the first stop for assistance if you believe that getting on the right medication may be part of your journey back to wellness.

Q11. “I can’t afford professional help of any kind unless I use my insurance.”

If you answered “true” to this question, private life coaching may not be an option for you right now. To use your medical insurance benefits, you need to meet criteria for a recognized mental health condition and engage in behavioral healthcare (aka, “therapy”) for the purpose of resolving your symptoms. Anytime an insurance claim is submitted, your provider is essentially saying that your therapy sessions are in treatment of your condition. Even for couples therapy: One person has a “diagnosis” that is the focus of treatment.

Coaching is not a recognized as a medically necessary treatment for any mental health condition. Furthermore, to submit medical claims you need to be working with a mental health practitioner who is licensed in your state of residence — NOT a life coach. Life coaching, career coaching, dating coaching, leadership coaching, relationship coaching (or couples counseling), premarital counseling are for the purpose of personal growth, life improvement, and goal attainment: Not mental health treatment.

If you’d like to get involved in personal growth work at Growing Self but finances are a barrier, we have options: Many of the excellent coaches on our team (particularly our early-career colleagues) offer affordable sliding scale rates that fit with your budget. We also offer online and in-person classes that are extremely affordable and effective. You may also consider taking advantage of one of our powerful, affordable groups

However, if utilizing your insurance benefits is necessary, the best choice may be to simply call the number on the back of your insurance card. (You may have a number specifically for “behavioral healthcare”) to discuss options with a representative of your insurance company. Or, you may be able to access a list of local providers from your insurance company who are in-network for you, and who have expertise in treating your diagnosis.

Q12. “I feel out of control and like my life is falling apart.” 

If you are in crisis, it may not be the right time to get involved in personal growth work. A better choice may be to focus on getting stabilized and creating a strong foundation from which you can rebuild.

If you are in need of immediate assistance and crisis support you can contact 844-493-TALK, which is a crisis hotline staffed by professional counselors who can help you de-escalate, and provide referrals. If you prefer to text, you can contact the crisis text line,, by texting HOME to 741841. Another great resource is to dial 211 from your phone to be connected to support and local resources in your area. 

I hope that this quiz helped to provide you with clarity and direction. However, this quiz is not intended to be a diagnostic tool or the final word on what is “right” for you.  If you’re ever in doubt, get in touch with a professional. You can always schedule a free consultation session with one of the caring expert therapists and coaches on our team. Every one of us has a background in mental health, as well as coaching. That way we can help you identify the best path, and meet your needs either way.

If you are dealing with more serious issues and suspect therapy is in order, do be sure to either reach out to someone who is available to meet with you in person, locally OR at the very least, meet with someone who is licensed in YOUR state. 

But remember, you’re already moving forward. All growth occurs when people are dissatisfied with their current results, and want something more. The fact that you’re even reading this, and researching options means that your growth process has already begun. Whether you ultimately pursue therapy, or life coaching is much less important than the fact that you are exploring your options, and giving serious thought to the right path for you.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions, or would like personal support on your journey of growth and change.

— Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Founder of

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