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What is the difference between a Coach, a Counselor, and a Therapist?

A coach is someone who motivates you to accomplish your goals. When we think of coaches we think of sports and the individual responsible for training and leading the team or sports figure to win. A personal coach does much of the same thing. Like a sports coach, to become a personal coach you only need the desire to call yourself a coach and want to help others do well and win in their personal lives. There are many classes, especially online, that allow people who want to move into this profession. There is the gold standard of Life or Professional Coaching certification that a coach can receive through the ICF or International Coach Federation. For now there is no national regulation for Life Coaches.

A counselor is someone who provides professional guidance either academically or personally and can also be used in professional consultation. Counseling is long standing profession that is rooted in education and is nationally regulated. Professional Counselors have a master’s degree in counseling and are licensed by their state.

A therapist is traditionally described as a medical or mental health professional and possesses a degree with experience requirements by their specific profession. There are physical, occupational, and speech therapists that deal with physical health. On the social/emotional/mental health side, there are Master level Social Workers (MSW), Master level Psychologists (MA/MS), and PhD psychologists. At the level of doctor of emotional/mental health with the right to prescribe needed medication, there are psychiatrists who possess a Medical Doctor degree (MD). All of the professionals directly above, are state and board regulated and possess a license in their specific profession.
Both social workers and psychologists must receive continuing education to renew their licenses every two or so years. If it is important that your coach/counselor/therapist is up to date on the latest methods of human intervention, then you should take their mandatory requirement for continuing education into consideration.

I am a licensed, master level, board certified social worker. I have been doing counseling and therapy post master’s degree for over 12 years. If you include my experience peer counseling, substance abuse treatment and delinquency counseling I completed post bachelor’s, I have been in the business of helping people define and reach their goals for almost 20 years. In addition to my License in Social Work and Board Certification, I am also an Internationally Certified Advanced Addictions Counselor. This means I can provide drug counseling in Canada, Mexico, Greece, and Spain (just to name a few). In Michigan I am also a Certified Clinical Supervisor (I can supervise programs, other master level and substance abuse professionals) and a Certified Prevention Counselor (I can provide professional prevention services).

I bring all this education and professional experience leading and helping others to be your Life Actualization Coach!! (I’ll explain Life Actualization in an upcoming post!!)
Even in my practice as a medical social worker and as a director of programs my favorite people to work with are youth and entrepreneurs. I have worked with ages 2 years up to 100 years old! I love people and truly believe everyone has a purpose and is meant to impact the world powerfully. I would be honored to take a few steps with you along your life’s wondrous journey! Call me at 313-701-3199 for a free consultation.

Wishing you the very best of life!
Jodi Luster, LMSW, BCD, CAADC, CCSM, CPSM