I get asked all the time about the differences between coaches and therapists, and I also get asked all the time about who I can work with. People are often surprised to hear I work with clients all over the country because they assume (correctly) that therapists can only work with people who live in their state of licensure. As a therapist, I offer services only to residents of Nevada. As a mental health coach, I offer services to anyone, anywhere.
Mental health coaches can do everything a therapist can do except, and these are important exceptions, diagnose and directly treat mental illness. Let me be clear that mental health coaches can do what they can because they are completely unregulated, unlike therapists who are highly regulated by laws, boards, and ethics. Coaches can coach because of a lack of regulation; there is no minimum amount of education or training, there are no exams, there are literally zero requirements. Anyone at any time can say they’re a coach and advertise their services.
Therapists must complete a 2+ year master’s degree, thousands of hours of face-to-face time with clients, hundreds of hours of supervision, and pass an exam (or two, depending on the state) in order to qualify for full licensure. Therapists are also subject to background checks and must submit their fingerprints in order to even apply for licensure. Therapists are then required to complete dozens of hours of continued education every year to maintain that license, which is renewed, for a fee, every year or two (again, depending on the state). All the while, therapists must hold themselves accountable to ethical and legal requirements (e.g. keeping clients’ files behind two locks and storing them for at least seven years), and therapists can be audited at any time by their state licensing board as well as ordered by a judge to turn over records.
Working with a licensed therapist comes with several built-in checks and balances. Working with a mental health coach comes with none. Unless you work with me.
I hold myself to the ethical and legal standards of therapist licensure whether I’m working with a therapy client or not. I work within my scope of expertise, receive regular support to improve my coaching just as I do to improve my therapy, seek consultation for coaching clients just as I do my therapy clients, and protect the privacy and confidentiality of both my coaching and therapy clients. I do not lean on diagnosis in my work as a therapist and therefore don’t miss it in my work as a mental health coach. Because I have the training of a therapist, I always have my therapist hat on, and my coaching clients benefit from that in a way that cannot be replicated by non-therapist coaches.
For information on working with Caitlin, look no further.