Yes, Therapists Can Be Life Coaches Too! Here's How.
Clinical therapist turned life coach John Kim (The Angry Therapist) breaks down how (and why) he made the transition. Could life coaching be right for you, too?
This post was updated in September 2022 to refresh content and add new information.
Making The Leap From Therapist to Life Coach
By John Kim, Lumia Coaching Co-Founder
There are way too many frustrated therapists these days. I know. I was one of them.
I would sit in my office and think "I want to quit being a therapist." Being a therapist is a difficult and lonely profession. The journey to become one is long and grueling, and there weren't as many careers in psychology as I had hoped.
But most do not talk about this for two reasons.
One, they don't want people to know they are unhappy. We're therapists. We're supposed to be good at life.
And two, the guilt of taking out a student loan, maybe quitting a career, borrowing money from family, makes you stuff your feels down as you force yourself to feel some gratitude. This is what you wanted. And you're doing it. So shut up and keep going. It's not about you anyway. It's about helping others.
Then the salt.
A wave of influencers and wellness people, yoga instructors, mindfulness coaches, fitness coaches, are now becoming life coaches. And they're helping people in ways you wish you could.
They're running retreats. They're creating courses and workshops. Generating multiple revenue streams. They're out there living as they help people instead of being stuck in a nondescript office all day doing session after session.
And this is pissing you off. Because you feel like life coaches aren't qualified to help people. They're hacks. Or maybe you're angry because you have chosen the clinical path, which traps you inside a very sturdy cage called The Board.
Cue the life coach vs therapist debate
Life coaches are not - nor should they claim to be - therapists. They are not "treating" anyone. They are not helping anyone with personality disorders or anything else inside the DSM. It is not within their scope of practice. They are not trained to.
But they are helping people with specific life areas, like break ups, divorce recovery, addictions, and career transitions. And they are using their own story to help others.
Look, it's not about them vs us.
I'm a licensed therapist turned life coach and have worn both hats for nearly a decade. I broke out of the cage I guess you can say. I hopped the fence. I got my clinical hours. I took the exam. I worked in non-profit. I worked in high-end rehabs. I had a full practice.
But then I started burning out. And I realized this wasn't how I wanted to help people. I felt like I was limiting myself and my creativity.
I understood that it didn't have to be coaching vs therapy. So I called myself a life coach and started helping people in a way that felt more honest to me.
Making the transition
I went outside. I coached people in coffee shops. I went on hikes with them. I created content and my own concepts. I made video and audio courses. I ran retreats. I wrote books. And I realized, THIS is the way I want to help people. I don't want to be stuck in an office or behind a computer on Zoom with clients all day.
I want to live. I want to experiment. I want to play. And that's how I want to help people. My heart and intention has never changed. But my definition of how to help people has.
And this is just the beginning.
With how fast the world is changing, it will be limitless how you choose to impact and help others. You can either embrace it and evolve as a truly powerful catalyst with endless potential or reject it and feel left behind.
Could this be for you?
If you're a therapist who is frustrated and burnt out. Or a burnt out social worker. Or if you're on the journey to becoming one and you're overworked and underpaid like I was, I want you to know that it's okay to wear many hats. You don't have to be conventional anymore. You don't have to sit in an office and just do back to back sessions.
I understand you fell in love with therapy and wanted to become one because your own therapist changed your life. That happened to me too. But times are different now. You can help people in so many different ways. Don't allow a piece of paper to determine that.
But also, you becoming a therapist was not a waste.
Although it was difficult, I don't regret becoming a therapist at all. I learned so much from my program and working at all the treatment centers. It was training and rich soil for my own personal growth. It also taught me what I didn't want.
Being a therapist just means you have more tools in your toolbox. That's all.
Toss the labels.
It's time to be you.
Who knows. Maybe your impact in this world will be changing the norm on how we help others.
- From Therapist to Life Coach - How to Make the Move Successful
- What’s The Difference Between Counseling, Therapy and Life Coaching?
Ready for the Next Step?
If you're thinking about moving from therapy to coaching, we invite you to come explore with us. Check out Lumia Life Coach Training to learn more about how adding coaching skills to your professional repertoire can further enhance your practice. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.