Decision Decoder: Do You Need a Therapist, Leadership Coach, or Life Coach?

We’re strong and capable, we’re ever-evolving, and we’re all on our unique journeys. Sometimes, that means we need a little support. But what kind of support? Should you get a life or executive coach? Would a therapist be best? It may depend on your ultimate goals. Read on to learn about the benefits and differences of working with a coach and a therapist.
Working with a Therapist
A therapist, often used as an umbrella term, describes a trained professional who helps clients overcome issues in and around the mental health realm. If you are experiencing any depression, post-traumatic stress, or anxiety, a therapist might be the type of support you’re looking for.
Taryn Crosby, founding partner at MCMCollab, is a New York-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist whose approach is to create an engaging, comfortable, safe, insightful, and enlightening space for her clients. Therapy is “a place to unravel and put yourself back together again.”
Crosby intentionally keeps her clients in the driver’s seat by helping them work through their thoughts, decision-making, and processing versus the “advice-giving” approach.
“Your relationship with your therapist—your ability to be honest and to discuss difficult topics—is the most important factor of an effective treatment,” Crosby explains. “You should ask as many questions as you’d like in your consultation with the therapist.”
Working with a Coach
Someone working with a coach will be expected to act toward their goals. These goals can range from financial—like budgeting or making more money—to physical or personal—like making new friends or reaching a fitness goal. And remember when we mentioned there are different types of therapists? Yep, it is the same for coaches. There are life coaches, leadership coaches, and more.

Kim D’Abreu is a Washington, DC-based consultant and Leadership/Executive Coach who helps her clients find and execute strategies to help them grow professionally while making the journey seamless. When working with clients, D’Abreu says that she considers “aspects of culture, salient social identities and how power manifests in the life of the client as they seek to move from their current reality to a desired future state.”
Having a coach specific to your career needs can help you hone in on what it takes to make you better in the workplace.
On the other hand, if you want to make changes in your personal life and well-being, you might be looking for a life coach. Life coach, therapist, and journalist S. Tia Brown, founder of Ready, Set, Grow Therapy, says, “Therapy is about understanding; coaching is about action.” Life coaches like Brown can help you clarify the goals you have for your life, work with you to identify the steps needed to complete them and help you manage a timeline for said goal.
Whether you choose a career coach, life coach, or some other type of coach, do expect to be held accountable and gain skills to crush those goals you set out for yourself.
You may benefit from a Therapist and a Coach.
Don’t cancel out the possibility of overlap. Both therapy and coaching support us in becoming better versions of our current selves. You may notice that action items may arise after attending therapy consistently. In such a case, you may decide that pairing a coach with your therapy can propel you towards your achievements.

Brown, who you may also recognize from appearances on  The Dr. Oz Show, The Bill Cunningham Show, and E! News, has over a decade of experience as a therapist and a life coach, working with individuals and helping them improve their overall quality of life. She pairs her training from life coaching and therapy to learn her client’s needs and help them on their paths to success.
Prepare for the partnership.
While there are no absolute prerequisites for preparing to work with a coach or therapist, you do have to be in a space where you’re ready to make small changes. No matter which path you choose, there is work to be done. Hard work. And you have to be prepared in all ways to tackle it. It’s also important to note that neither therapy nor coaching are one-and-done. You may need to date around for the perfect fit, switch providers based on your growth and goals, or even take a break and revisit it later. Remember that this journey is yours, and it is up to you to take the steps that work best for you.
Taryn Crosby: MCMCollab
Kim D’Abreu: Partners in Racial Equity
S. Tia Brown: Ready Set Grow!

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