Should I see a Psychologist or a Coach? What’s the difference?
There are a few different ways to answer this question, but an easy way to think about it is to imagine wellbeing along a continuum, a scale with really distressed and unwell down one end, and really well and happy and flourishing at the other end. And in the middle you have “average”.
Traditionally, a psychologist helps people who are down the average to unwell end of the scale, people who are experiencing distress, whether its anxiety, depression or some other mental health problem. Or maybe they’re going through a challenging situation, such as a breakup, job loss, or grief.
A coach on the other hand, is not necessarily trained to work with people experiencing mental health problems, but they have tools and strategies to help people on the average to excellent end of the scale, to help them overcome whatever obstacles are in the way of them performing at an even higher level. People who want to get more out of life, or achieve a certain goal (career, financial, lifestyle, health, etc) might see a coach to help them get there.
Having said that, a lot of psychologists use tools from coaching to support their clients, and a lot of coaches have some techniques from psychology which can help with things like anxiety and depression as well.
Being trained and qualified as both, I can work with people at all places along that scale. When I am working with someone, I don’t draw a firm distinction between psychology and coaching. I use whatever tools I think will best help the person to get the outcome they want.
Both psychologists and coaches can help people, but they have to be good at what they do. One thing to be aware of is that there are certain standards and criteria that psychologists have to meet to be able to work with people. This means that they have been through a certain number of years of study (usually at least 6 years) and had other professionals sign off on their capability. Whereas there are no minimum requirements for Coaches. Anyone can become a coach. But, like any profession, there are good coaches and bad ones. And the good ones can be VERY good. Often times better than a bad psychologist.
So where does all this leave you? Who should you see? It’s completely up to you. My recommendation is to try one, and see how you find it. Did you connect with the person? Did you feel comfortable, but not too comfortable? Did you get some useful ideas or activities out of it? Did you feel better after the session? Did you come away with a plan? And most importantly, when you implemented what you learnt from the sessions, did you get a good result? Now, that last one you may not see straight away, but it shouldn’t take a very long time either. After all, the whole reason you are seeing someone is to help to create change right?
If you want to experience my great approach to helping people, please call me and let's see what we can do.
I look forward to meeting you.