My therapist is not a life coach. She doesn't tell me what to do. She doesn't tell me how to do it. If I'm stewing, we stew. If I'm confused, we explore. If I'm upset, we sit with it. I sometimes yearn for my therapist to be a life coach. In moments of vulnerability and frustration I have spat out the question, "Can you just tell me what I should do?"
She always responds calmly. "Well let's talk about why you're asking me that."
Over the years I've grown to appreciate the role of a therapist - she's my mirror, reflecting back to me my own life and my own words. She offers new perspective and adds her own observations. But she does not prescribe. She doesn't ask me for goals or plans. She helps create balance in the room - where I am judgmental, she offers compassion. Where I am obsessed with end results, she questions the journey. When I'm circling round and round, she offers clarity.
Most life coaches look to the future. They aren't dwelling in the why as much as the how. Therps asks me to examine the past. She knows I fear getting stuck there, a tidal wave I won't survive. She's my lifeguard. She pulls me back to shore if I can't find my way.
Life coaches are great. You want to do something? Let's make a plan, let's do it, let's track your progress. Life coaches sometimes ask therps-like questions. But they aren't talk therapists. And talk therapists aren't life coaches. A simple lesson but an important one.