What's the Difference Between Counseling/Psychotherapy and Life Coaching?

What's the Difference Between Counseling/Psychotherapy
and Life Coaching?

Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. and Licensed Social Workers all are licensed in the state of Texas to do Counseling and Psychotherapy.

Licensed Mental Health Professionals in Texas — A Fact Sheet for Consumers


This fact sheet is intended to provide basic information for consumers regarding the following mental health professionals that are licensed in Texas: marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, social workers, sex offender treatment providers, chemical dependency counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

What is a Licensed Professional Counselor?


What is required of a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas?

What is a Life Coach?

Myth: Life coaches are professionals who can help you achieve your goals.

Fact: Some, but certainly not all coaches are professionals who can help you reach your goals. One of the problems in the coaching industry is that anyone can call themselves a professional coach, life coach, personal coach, etc. Jennifer Corbin, the president of Coach U, one of the largest and oldest coach training organizations in the world, has said,

“Anyone can hang up a shingle as coaching is not regulated. Many people coaching have no idea what coaching is as they haven't been trained or haven't been coached by a professionally-trained and credentialed coach. There are schools that will offer a credential after three hours of training and people read a book or watch a TV program and decide 'I'm a coach!' As a result, the quality of coaches varies dramatically. I strongly suggest working with a coach that has been accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). The ICF provides independent certification that is the benchmark for the professional coaching industry” — CBS News Dec. 20, 2011

Life Coaching: An End Run around Counseling Practice Acts


Scope of Problem: Unfortunately, because coaches are unlicensed and unregulated there is currently no way to know how many clients are being injured by coaches. Counselors have procedures in place where malpractice is tracked and investigated by their state boards. Coaches have no state regulation.”

Wikipedia states, “Critics contend that life coaching is akin to psychotherapy without restrictions, oversight, regulation, or established ethical policies.[13] These concerns have been dealt with on a state-by-state basis. In 2009, the State of Tennessee issued a memorandum emphasizing that life coaches may be subject to discipline if they perform activities that could be construed as personal, marital, or family counseling.[14] Other states have made no formal statement but have legal statutes that broadly define mental health practice. Hawaii, for example, defines the practice of psychology as any effort aimed at behavior change or to improve "interpersonal relationships, work and life adjustment, personal effectiveness, behavioral health, [or] mental health." [15] Although such states usually provide some exclusions to licensure requirements, such as for ordained clergy, life coaches usually fall under such statutes.”


  • There are no standards for education or standard process for becoming a coach.
  • There is no regulatory agency for coaching.
  • There is no licensing for coaching.
  • There is no standardized ethical codes for coaching.

There is no recourse if a coach acts in an unethical way.

Some life coaches are, or have been, licensed mental health providers. Because of this training and experience, they make excellent life coaches. But, there are many life coaches who have little or no professional training in helping people change their lives. Sometimes they call themselves counselors and sometimes even call themselves marriage counselors. If you examine their websites, you will see that they don’t state they are “professionals” of any kind. That’s because it is against the law in Texas to use that term. “Professional Counselor” is a protected title in Texas.

BEWARE! If you’re seeking important and substantive changes in your life and need help in making those changes, be sure to check out the credentials of the person who will be helping you.