What is a Life Counselor?

๐ŸŒŸ Exploring the World of Personal Growth ๐ŸŒŸ

Ever wondered about the differences between a life counselor/coach and a therapist? ๐Ÿค” Letโ€™s dive into it! ๐Ÿ’ฌ

๐Ÿš€ Life Coaching: Think of it as your personal GPS system! ๐ŸŒ A session with a life coach is all about structure and accountability. Picture this: you set clear goals, complete thoughtful questionnaires, and even get homework assignments to conquer between sessions. โ€œMy coaching sessions are very directive,โ€ says Jennifer Fortner. โ€œWe identify goals and track progress togetherโ€”making sure youโ€™re moving towards your best self!โ€

๐Ÿ’ก Therapy: Itโ€™s like a journey of self-discovery! ๐ŸŒˆ In therapy sessions, the power is in your hands. You decide the direction you want to go, and conversations are driven by your feelings, insights, and triggers. Itโ€™s an open-ended exploration of your thoughts and emotions, guided by a licensed therapist whoโ€™s been through extensive training and clinical hours.

๐Ÿšซ No Diagnosis Zone: Life counselors/coaches are fantastic at helping you reach your goals, but they wonโ€™t hand out diagnoses. Shann Davis, MS, APSAT a life counselor, explains, โ€œA licensed therapist is someone who has been trained, gained clinical hours, and has the skills to work with traumas and diagnose disorders. They bring the tools for short-term behavioral modifications. The training of a life counselor/coach is very specific to goals and goal attainment.โ€

In a nutshell, life counselors/coaches provide the roadmap to your aspirations, while therapists offer a safe space for self-reflection and healing. Both are invaluable, but each has its unique flavor! ๐ŸŒŸโœจ

Life Counselors

Stacey Peterson, Life Counselor, Grief Specialist

Life Counselor

Heath & Virtual
Life Counselors

Shann Davis, MA, APSAT

Life Counselor

Heath, Royse City & Greenville
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Circle of Life Collaborators

Adulting, Parenting, Blending, Career Changes, Divorce are all life cycle events that are made easier with a roadmap, preparation and support. Our life coaches are here to help lay a strong foundation for successful change.

Treatment Navigators

When healing from anxiety, depression or other illness โ€“ navigate wellness from a foundation of purpose and meaning. While a therapist works with the illness, your mental health coach will help you integrate resources and interdisciplinary efforts.

Relationship Trauma Experts

Betrayal and infidelity harms adults, children and families. The consequences can be acute and sometimes generational. Affair Recovery coaches are expert at helping couples heal, helping families restore trust and redeem losses.

You, your marriage, & your children Matter!

Modern life has unique stresses and challenges. At EMBRACE, clients are in different places and stages when it comes to living their best life. Some need assistance with clinical issues like anxiety or depression; others need help with motivation, direction, and navigation of relationship and life issues.

Coaching might be more viable vs therapy if you feel stuck in life, donโ€™t have a clinical illness, and you are focused on a specific goal. It can help you get unstuck in life using a present-focused, goal-oriented approach. [1]

There are some similarities and differences in how coaching works. We outline the differences between coaching vs therapy below. It will help you decide which one is suitable for you. [2]

One of our most popular is Teen Life Coaching , helping unlock your teen's greatest potential.

We help your teen turn their ideas, dreams and hopes into measurable goals.

Our experts assist couples in Affair Recovery , heal their relationship and their families.

Our experts use research-based, proven individual and coupleโ€™s curriculum with support groups for couples healing from relationship distress.

Coaching vs. Therapy


  • Mental health coaches generally do not deal with clinical issues such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. They also cannot handle acute suicidality, as that requires intervention from a trained mental health professional. If at any time during coaching, a client decompensates into depression, anxiety or other mental health issue, the client will be stepped up to an EMBRACE New Life therapist.
  • Therapists, typically social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, are trained to diagnose and treat clinical issues.


  • Mental health coaches tend to have lived experience of the issues that their clients are facing. This is true of all EMBRACE coaches.
  • Therapists generally donโ€™t have personal, lived experience of their clientโ€™s issues. However, they rely on their psychiatric and psychological training to assist their clients and patients.


  • Coaches primarily help their clients move forward in life by helping them recognize present-day barriers to their growth.
  • Therapists help their clients overcome clinical illnesses such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
  • There is some overlap between a coach and a therapistโ€™s goals, as both of them help their clients live a fulfilling life.


  • Coaches tend to work on present-day issues, occasionally touch on the past, and build towards the future.
  • Typically, therapists help you process your past experiences. They also help you understand how those experiences affect your life today.
  • Coaches use evidence-based techniques such as reflective listening and motivational interviewing. They may also use techniques from clinical tools such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), although what they do is not CBT or ACT.
  • Psychiatrists can also use tools such as medication along with talk-therapy to manage clinical illnesses.

Time Commitment

  • Coaching tends to be a shorter-term intervention vs therapy, even though it can take place over months.
  • Therapy can run from anywhere between 3 months to several years, depending on the clientโ€™s problems and needs.

Is Coaching Effective Compared to Therapy?

Coaching and therapy can be equally impactful if you lack life purpose and motivation but do not have a mental illness. However, you should seek therapy if you have clinical anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or similar problems.

If you are unsure if you have a clinical illness and donโ€™t know how to find a therapist, you can start by seeing a coach. They will be able to direct you to a mental health professional if you need treatment. If you have any questions, please feel free to speak with our Intake Specialist at 972.292.7092 EN/ES.

Suppose you have been moving forward in life for a significant amount of time. If you still have negative emotions that hinder your day-to-day functioning, you may need to see a mental health professional.

If you feel stuck in life, lack motivation, and do not feel like your life has a purpose, coaching can help. However, you should see a therapist for a mental health concern, diagnosis, or treatment. While coaching is a useful supplement, it is NOT a substitute for therapy.

Here are some areas in which coaching, and therapy overlap and use similar methods to achieve the same goals:

Positive Psychology

Coaches and therapists use positive psychology to help draw their clientโ€™s focus on well-being and strengths-based thinking. Cultivating the approach to happiness is a part of the coachโ€™s toolkit. On average, coaching is pro-happiness, vs traditional therapy seems to be anti-depression. [5]


Coaches and therapists have started to incorporate aspects of mindfulness and mind-body relaxation therapies into their practice. These techniques are handy when dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Mindfulness is a great tool that allows the client to observe their behaviors and catch negative thought loops. As a result, they start to manage their emotions and take action, which creates lasting change in their lives. [6]

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based technique used by both therapists and coaches. The number one rule in Motivational Interviewing is never to tell the client what to do. Instead, coaches empower clients to discover their reasons for creating change in their life. They accomplish this through active listening and helping them cultivate self-reliance. [7]

Strengths-Based Focus

Coaches help their clients identify their strengths and values and anchor those in their imagination. Clients can use this knowledge when challenges and difficulties arise. As a result, a strengths-based focus is a core part of empowering the client. [8]

Solution-Oriented Focus

Both coaches and psychotherapists use a solution-oriented approach. They focus on helping the client find ways of creating their solutions. This approach reduces the clientโ€™s dependency on the coach and allows them to feel more empowered as they build the life they want. [9]

When to Seek Coaching vs Therapy

Coaching is useful when you feel stuck in life. If you have any of the following issues, it can be worth giving coaching a try:

  • Unclear life purpose
  • Lack of motivation
  • Excessive procrastination
  • Behavioral addictions such as video game addiction
  • Relationship issues

Keep in mind that you could feel stuck in life because of mental illness, such as clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. If that is the case, your coach can direct you to see an EMBRACE New Life mental health professional who can diagnose you and provide treatment. As a result, coaching can be an excellent starting point to kickstart your growth.


Life counselors/coaches work on your thought processes and self-beliefs and help you create realistic, achievable goals. Additionally, coaches guide you through the process of achieving these goals. They can also help you deal with failure, which is part of the process. [3]

There is a common misconception that only therapists work with emotions. However, most coaches, including our own Mental Health, Life and Affair Recovery Coaches, are trained to help people process their emotions to build a better future. Counselors/Coaches regularly talk to people about how they feel and help them process these emotions. This combination of goal and action-oriented growth combined with emotional processing allows EMBRACE Counselors/Coaches to help clients with varying issues. [4]

Counselors/Coaches equip their clients with the tools they need to move forward in life. While therapists tend to deal with clinical issues, EMBRACE Counselors/Coaches are comfortable assisting with problems like a lack of motivation and excessive procrastination. They can also aid with emotional processing, relationship issues, supporting addiction recovery, and more!

Life Counselors/Coaches cannot diagnose mental illnesses or provide medical treatment or advice. โ€REMEMBER THAT COACHING IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY OR MEDICAL ADVICE.


1. Bishop,L., 2018. A scoping review of mental health coaching. The CoachingPsychologist, 14, pp.5-15.

2. Bora,R., Leaning, S., Moores, A. and Roberts, G., 2010. Life coaching for mental health recovery: the emerging practice of recovery coaching. Advancesin psychiatric treatment, 16(6), pp.459-467.

3. Grant,A.M., 2003. The impact of life coaching on goal attainment, metacognition and mental health. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 31(3), pp.253-263.

4. Corrie,S. and Parsons, A.A., 2021. The contribution of coaching to mental health care: An emerging specialism for complex times. In Emerging Conversations in Coaching and Coaching Psychology (pp. 60-77). Routledge.

5. Linley,P.A. and Harrington, S., 2005. Positive psychology and coaching psychology: Perspectives on integration. The Coaching Psychologist, 1(1),pp.13-14.

6. Gonzรกlez,M., de Diego, A. and Lรณpez, J.G., 2018. Mindfulness and Coaching: Promoting the Development of Presence and Full Awareness. Psychology Research, 1(1).

7. Minzlaff,K.A., 2019. Organisational coaching: integrating motivational interviewing and mindfulness with cognitive behavioural coaching. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 12(1), pp.15-28.

8. Lai,Y.L. and Palmer, S., 2019. Psychology in executive coaching: an integrated literature review. Journal of Work-Applied Management.