You probably have a friend who either signed up for coaching or perhaps decided to become a life coach. Coaching is not new, but since Covid, it especially became popular because of many women needing to stay home to homeschool or possibly losing their jobs and needing extra income.

As someone who has practised psychotherapy, who has received both therapy and coaching, and who has become a coach, I have a few things to share.

Let’s start with which to choose, why and when…

Choose a coach when: 

You are feeling energized and extremely hopeful towards the future – but you need some guidance. A guide on the side, someone who has bridged the path before you and can show you the way. Just think of the traditional coaches you have hired – the lean woman with the muscles, with the discipline and resilience that makes working out a cinch. The writing coach that had the map and expertise to get your book in a bookstore near you. You look for a coach when you see a person doing something that looks effortless and you think “ I want that!’. Boom!

Choose a therapist when:

You are not feeling energized, and in fact, you have no energy. When you spend more time in bed ‘thinking’ than you do ‘sleeping’. When you think you are doing everything right…yet you are gaining weight, you are failing in the relationship category, and you start to question why you exist. You are getting by…but joy is not a regular part of your life. You got this idea of “ I will be happy when…”. Do you realize this is NOT normal?

Unfortunately, just like stress, we don’t know what we don’t know, and we have normalized stress just like we have normalized malaise. 

I titled this piece ‘why women need to use caution’ when signing up for coaching for a reason. 

Women, as a gender, tend to be more emotional, sensitive and show more nurturing tendencies than men. We crave what we ourselves provide – meaning that we can become susceptible to others that provide us that same emotional connection. Our tendency to be vulnerable is also due to the levels of estrogen born to us. 

I say all of this because the coaching industry tends to be a very ‘raw raw’ cheerleader type of industry and is so by way of definition. Coaches tend to proclaim “ If I can do it – so can you!” 

But as with choosing a therapist, you need to choose this coach with even more discretion, simply because of all the hype, promises of you becoming a star [blank] overnight. This is simply NOT true. 

The truth is, ‘if I can do it, so can you’ is also not true. A coach doesn’t know you from a hole in the ground, how can they possibly know this is true? Mindset is everything. Unless they have studied you like a specimen under a microscope, how in the world can they proclaim that!!

Not everyone is made from the same cloth. Not everyone has the same skills, talents, tendencies and desires that it takes to become a successful coach or for you to undergo some radical transformation. So if you are someone who can only see the shiny object (a thriving coaching business, best seller, or best body, etc.) but do not have the actual skills necessary to do these things, you will NOT have this transformation. But what is even worse, is that you do not only fail yourself, but you could potentially harm others if you think you can be a great coach but are not! 

Speaking to vulnerable women is a dangerous industry to sell services to – because vulnerable women can be very trusting and desire deep healing done through therapy instead of true coaching (as I described above). 

I have witnessed many sign up for coaching in order to heal a deeper inner wound, rather than to be ‘shown the way’ and it is not a great end result. Women become bitter and resentful towards the coaching industry, which is unfortunate. 

In fact, I came across an article in the iconic Canadian magazine for women called Chatelaine published in September of 2023 that explains it even further. In this article, it breaks down many other reasons you must use a great amount of discretion if you choose coaching, including everything from breaking your bank account to lack of any sort of regulation, which I will not include here. However, you are welcome to read further about it here.

Bottom line, just like everything in life, we need to be very cautious and use proper discretion. If someone is promising you the world, then chances are you should run in the other direction. 

I hope this helps any of you that are debating whether or not to choose a therapist or a coach or if you are considering becoming a coach. Be cautious, we are an extremely vulnerable race, and it is easy to get hurt; especially when we don’t feel emotionally well.