Life Coach vs. Therapist: Why I Choose The Former

I’ve been trying to write this article for a long time-I think I have two or three drafts saved-but it’s super personal and I’m having a tough time with it. However, I keep plugging away, because I think it’s important.

I’ll start with this: if you’ve never had experience with mental illness, consider yourself lucky-however, you won’t be able to understand it. Explaining mental illness to someone who’s never experienced its effects is like explaining color to someone who was born blind. I can tell you anxiety is both mental and physical; I can tell you that when I’m in the midst of an attack I feel like I’m drowning. I can tell you these things, but unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, you can’t fully understand what it’s like. You just have to trust me- and I hope it never goes beyond that for you.

I met Shayna a few years ago at a networking meeting. My friend introduced us and I was immediately intrigued by what she does- holistic healing? Hell yes I can get on board with that. We kept in touch, I signed up for her email list and always kept current with what she was doing. One winter I participated in a Winter Blues to Red-Hot Energy Detox she hosted, and last summer I went on a two-day Hope and Peace Retreat she also hosted for women with depression and anxiety.

I don’t think I fully realized how much anxiety I had until that retreat where I could be honest with myself about it in a supportive environment. The positive effects from doing that for myself still echo even ten months later. Hell, I even think that contributed to my survival when I got in that accident- I definitely used techniques I learned over that weekend to remind myself that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, even as I was medflighted in a foreign country.

So why do I choose this (expensive-but-worth-every-penny) holistic healing approach over traditional (covered-by-insurance) therapy? Easy. The understanding and the method.

The thing about traditional therapy, in my experience, is that the results are slow. You go talk at someone for fifty minutes and then you leave to do the same thing all over again the next week. Maybe they’ll offer some suggestions, maybe they won’t. The therapist may or may not have a personal experience with what you need help with, and if they don’t, they only have experience with it from a clinical standpoint. I’m not trying to knock therapists or traditional therapy, but there’s a very different perspective of mental illness in the ivory tower of academia than there is when you’re down in the trenches fighting it yourself.

That’s the difference. Shayna has personal experience with anxiety and depression, so she knows exactly how it feels to be in the thick of battle with it. And, beyond that, she got through it, so she’s a great role model who practices what she preaches.

The healing is holistic so for people like me who are avoiding antidepressants, it helps. Shayna encourages taking action steps to actively pull yourself out of funks, which she provides. The ways to cope that she suggests makes sense to me- for comparison, a traditional therapist once told me to fight my social anxiety I should just join a club. That would have been fine advice except for the crippling fear of socializing with people I didn’t know. I went to two different club meetings and never went back, because surprise! I didn’t know how to cope beyond just showing up. “Joining a club” only heightened my anxiety because I didn’t know how to stop being nervous around people I didn’t know… But you can’t say I didn’t try.

I didn’t know Shayna when I was in college but if I did she probably would have had more to say than just “join a club.” She probably would have helped me more than that. I mean, even today I sent her an email because I was feeling particularly low, and she called me right back with positive, warm thoughts, a helpful quote, and an action step for me to feel better and get through the day. Would a traditional therapist do that? Probably not.

I’m at my very beginning of my solo coaching with Shayna. I benefited so much from two days with her coaching, I can only imagine I’ll benefit even more from six months. Our first session is tomorrow- I’m looking forward to this journey.

Until next time, namasté my friends. ❤

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4 thoughts on “Life Coach vs. Therapist: Why I Choose The Former

  1. I just love that you wrote this! I have shared it with a few people who were wondering the difference between my work and therapy. It’s helpful to come from a client rather than me as the coach.
    You have come so far Stephanie and it’s been an honor to work with you on such a holistic level! I am excited for our continued journey together and to see it all unfold for you even more in business and life! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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