Life Coaching Questions
Does Insurance Cover Coaching?
Wondering if insurance covers life coaching? It is a common and understandable question. The fact that you can use health insurance to cover behavioral healthcare (which, like coaching, also involves talking to a professional about personal things) can make people wonder if insurance covers coaching, too. What many people are surprised to learn is that health insurance won't even pay for many things that we think of as “therapy” let alone coaching. Here's why:
Health insurance pays for the “medically necessary treatment” of an illness, injury, or disorder. That's it.
Health insurance doesn't cover therapy for the purpose of personal growth and self-actualization. Health insurance does not cover marriage counseling, premarital counseling, couples therapy, or family therapy solely intended to improve communication and strengthen relationships. It's still incredibly valuable to do this work. Great coaching or therapy is an investment in your life, and it's less expensive than you might think. But even “therapy” is not always considered medically necessary healthcare.
Health insurance only covers therapy that is focused on treating the mental health condition of the “identified patient.” If you've ever had a therapist submit claims to your insurance company for marriage counseling, or therapy they have diagnosed you with a psychiatric condition and then represented whatever type of therapy they were doing with you as being “medically necessary treatment” focused on reducing your symptoms. (Even if YOU thought you were there to improve your relationships, understand yourself, feel happier, or get clarity and direction in your life, your medical record says otherwise.)
Does Insurance Pay For Therapy?
What does this have to do with whether insurance covers coaching? Because it's important to understand the difference between therapy and coaching, first.
Therapy (or “psychotherapy”) can be used for personal growth and relationship improvement, but its first and foremost a type of behavioral healthcare that is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. When you get involved in therapy, the basic assumption is that you are there for the treatment of a mental illness. If your therapist is assisting you in using health insurance to cover therapy, that is the claim that they're making: they are treating you for a psychiatric condition.
In contrast, any type of coaching: life coaching, career coaching, dating coaching or relationship coaching is for the purpose of helping you grow as a person and achieve your desired outcomes through a process of gaining self-awareness, developing skills and strategies, and taking actionable steps forward. Coaching assumes that you are fundamentally healthy and simply want to make positive changes. Coaching is never a “medically necessary treatment” for a psychiatric condition. Coaching is exclusively focused on personal growth, self-development, and attaining personal and professional goals.
If you are working with a good, ethical and knowledgable coach who determines that you have active mental health symptoms that are interfering with your ability to make progress in coaching, they will refer you to a mental healthcare provider who can treat your symptoms. Then, once you're more stable, coaching can be effective for you in attaining your goals.
The Difference Between Therapy and Coaching
Other important differences to know about therapy vs. coaching: Therapy, since it's considered a form of healthcare, can only be conducted by a therapist who is licensed or registered in your state or country of residence to practice behavioral healthcare. It's a regulated profession, meaning that therapists need to have certain qualifications and professional training experiences to practice (generally, a master's degree or doctorate from a qualified program, plus years of experience treating clients under supervision of a licensed professional, etc). Learn more: How to Find a (Good) Marriage Counselor
In contrast, while you can find “certified coaches” who have completed some sort of coach training, and licensed therapists who provide coaching (such as the therapists / coaches here at Growing Self), coaching is not a regulated profession. There are no state requirements around who can provide coaching. There is no training, education, or credentialing required to be a coach. Literally anyone can decide they are a “coach” and go into business as such, offering services to the public. (Rest assured, all the life, relationship, and career coaches here at Growing Self are also all licensed or licensure-eligible as mental health professionals too — but they have coach training in addition to that).
Does Insurance Cover Coaching?
So, back to our question: Does insurance cover coaching? As I'm sure you've gathered from our discussion, the answer is no. Since coaching is not considered “treatment” for anything, your health insurance will not pay for coaching. But truthfully, a therapist who is conducting therapy for the purpose of personal growth or relationship improvement cannot, ethically, submit medical insurance claims representing your work as “treatment” either.
That said, there is also such a thing as “coachy therapy.” There are therapists, particularly those who have a background in both therapy and coaching, who can use a coaching method / approach over the course of effective therapy. For example, if you have an ADHD diagnosis, passive talk therapy is unlikely to help you make concrete changes and learn how to function at a higher level.
Your therapist may instead utilize a more active type of approach that is focused on helping you set attainable goals, understand your inner obstacles, and learn (and practice) concrete skills around time management, personal productivity, impulse control, etc. However, because this work is still focused on the treatment of a mental health diagnosis, it would be considered therapy — not coaching, even though in practice the actual experience would be very similar to the one you'd have in coaching for help with attaining other personal goals.
If you're trying to figure out what approach is best for you, here are a few questions to help you get clear about the right path:
Ask yourself: What are my intentions for this?
- Am I experiencing mental health symptoms that require treatment?
- Or am I here to improve a aspects of my life, career, or relationship?
Therapy: Treatment For Mental Health:
- If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with a mental health condition, you really need to be in evidence-based therapy with a therapist who is licensed in your state, and who can provide you with effective treatment to reduce your symptoms so that you can feel better.
- If your psychiatric condition is negatively impacting your relationship or family, family therapy may be indicated as a type of treatment in addition to your individual therapy.
- The focus of this work will be on the treatment of the psychiatric condition, on restoring functioning as a couple and family, or on repairing the damage done to your relationships due to this historical condition.
- It is absolutely appropriate to utilize health insurance for this type of work.
- If you are seeking medically necessary therapy: The best thing to do is to contact your health insurance provider and get a list of mental health professionals in your area who are in-network, and who specialize in the treatment of your condition.
- If you are not able to find a therapist who is able to see you (many insurance-paneled therapists are full), the next best option is to work with a provider who is not in-network with your insurance company, but who can help you submit claims to your insurance company.
- You will still pay that provider out of pocket, but if your claims are accepted you will be reimbursed for at least a percentage of the cost of your treatment by your insurance company.
- (That's how our system works at Growing Self. We're not in-network, but if you're seeing one of our providers for therapy for the treatment of a condition we can help you use your benefits by submitting claims for you.)
Coaching: Growth, Accountability, and Self Improvement
- In contrast, if you know you're fundamentally well and simply want to grow, gain self-awareness, improve some aspect of your life, career, or your relationship, and/or achieve personal or professional goals, coaching may be more appropriate and effective in helping you attain this than traditional talk therapy.
- Things like career coaching, life coaching, premarital counseling, or relationship coaching are like other types of investments you make in your life, like getting an education, enlisting a personal trainer, or meeting with a financial advisor. (You would never expect health insurance to cover a college degree!)
- Similarly, love, life and career coaching are about growth, accountability, and goal-directed self-improvement — not treating an illness. Coaching assumes that you are fundamentally healthy, strong, and competent to engage in an active, challenging process of self-discovery and action-oriented growth.
- Coaching is not healthcare. Your coach does not need to be licensed in your state. (Remember, there is no “licensing” requirement for coaches at all!) If your coach determines that an underlying mental health condition is interfering with your ability to be successful in coaching, they will refer you for treatment.
- While coaching will certainly help you gain self awareness and understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, the goal of coaching is not gaining insight or processing the past. Coaching will emphasize the action-oriented parts of change, and focus on real-world results.
- In coaching you will set goals, make an actionable step-by-step plan to attain those goals, build your skill set so that you know how to do what needs to be done in order to attain your goals, and get both support and accountability for following through.
Just knowing that you were going to ask me about my homework made me do it. I did things with you that I couldn't do on my own.
Have More Questions About Life Coaching? Let's Talk.
The first step in getting started with love, life or career coaching is to request a free consultation meeting. You can talk about your hopes and goals for this, get your questions about coaching or questions about therapy answered in person, and make sure it feels like a good fit before moving forward.
If you're in the Denver area you can meet with us at our Cherry Creek, DTC, or Broomfield office locations. We also have locations in Fort Collins, Colorado, Bentonville, Arkansas, San Francisco, CA and more. If you're elsewhere in the US (or internationally) we can meet for online life coaching, online therapy, online career coaching, or online relationship coaching through secure online video.
Help yourself to the best day and time using our online calendars below, or call the office — 720-370-1800 — for personal assistance in scheduling. We answer 24/7.