The Difference Between Psychologist, Psychiatrist and Life Coach

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Are you considering seeking professional mental health support for yourself or your child? You can begin by considering whether you need to consult a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a life coach, or other professionals. 

It is an important question. You have a large selection of mental health professionals to pick from because they come in a wide variety. However, the kinds of support and care they provide can differ considerably based on their profession, education, training, and credentials.

While searching for the best professional, it can be helpful to remember the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a life coach. Below, you’ll find a detailed explanation of what psychiatrists, psychologists, and life coaches do and the differences between the three professionals. 

Table of Contents

What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists help people in overcoming personal and mental health issues. Psychologists are registered healthcare practitioners with specialized training in human behavior. 

Some psychologists pursue additional education to earn certifications in certain branches of psychology, such as neuropsychology, clinical psychology, community psychology, health psychology, forensic psychology, sports psychology, and organizational psychology.

Furthermore, psychologists are employed in various settings, including corporations, courts, jails, schools, hospitals, and community health agencies. They also specialize in working with children, teenagers, or families.

A psychologist can assist you with problems such as

    • Depression, anxiety, stress 

    • Drug and alcohol abuse 

    • Low self-esteem 

    • Fears and phobias, 

    • Post-traumatic stress disorder

A psychologist may also assist you in dealing with life’s challenges, such as

    • Financial stress 

    • Domestic violence

    • Aging 

What does a Psychiatrist do?

Psychiatrists are medical professionals with advanced training in diagnosing, managing, and preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral diseases.

They can use a variety of approaches and treatments, such as counseling, psychotherapy, and drugs like antidepressants. If necessary, they can often admit patients to hospitals.

So, if you have a serious mental illness like one of the following, you should probably contact a psychiatrist:

    • Severe depression

    • Complex disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

    • Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, 

    • Anxiety disorders like panic attacks and phobias 

    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    • Trauma-related stress disorder

While working in private practice, psychiatrists work in community mental health agencies, hospitals, and clinics.

What does a Life Coach do?

A life coach offers advice and motivation to clients through personal or professional challenges. A life coach assists clients in achieving their long-term objectives.

Most importantly, a life coach can help individuals in several facets of their lives. Just a few instances of what a coach can do are as follows:

    • Improve concentration and productivity

    • Improve overall effectiveness

    • Improve your ability to prioritize, handle stress, and manage time

    • Boost self-esteem, self-compassion, and self-assurance

    • Strengthen cooperation and teamwork abilities

    • Develop communication abilities

Several signs of hiring a life coach can be advantageous for you. These signs include:

    • Inability to break undesirable habits; 

    • Frequent irritation

    • High levels of stress and anxiety

    • Lack of fulfillment in your social life

    • A persistent sense of unhappiness at work

    • A sensation of blocked creativity

Life coaches have become significantly more popular in society. An increasing number of CEOs and business owners are now working with life coaches to accomplish success in both their personal and professional lives.

Also Read: Life Coach Vs Therapist: Here Are 5 Most Important Differences You Must Know!

4 Differences between a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, and a Life coach

Although there may be some similarities between the advantages of receiving psychotherapy from a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist and working with a life coach, these specialists play different roles and have different goals.

To elaborate further, the key differences between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a life coach relate to the following:

    • Education, Training, and Credentials

    • Treatments Provided

    • Conditions Treated

    • Future Vs. Past Orientation

    • Getting an Appointment.

1. Education, Training, and Credentials

One of the key differences between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a life coach is education and specialized training.

Psychiatrists have Medical Degrees, but psychologists and life coaches don’t. 


Psychologists must have completed at least six years of supervised academic training. Most psychologists hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology degree. Doctoral-level (Ph.D.) psychologists are permitted to use the title “Dr.” but do not hold medical degrees. Clinical psychologists have received specialized training in identifying and managing mental diseases.

Aside from these, most clinical or counseling roles have licensing requirements, including completion of an authorized education, certification, and a predetermined number of clinical hours.


Psychiatrists are medical professionals having at least 11 years of training. The first step to becoming a psychiatrist is getting a medical degree from a university. Before finishing at least five years of training in treating and diagnosing mental illness, students first spend 1 or 2 years training as general physicians. 

Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists must receive a doctor of medicine degree (MD) and understand the human body’s systems and functions, how to conduct physical examinations and the precise treatments for each medical problem.

Life Coaches

Life Coaches there aren’t any requirements that must be met before becoming a life coach. It’s not necessary to get a college degree, professional experience, or previous qualifications to work in the unregulated field of life coaching. Even though there are numerous certification programs for coaches, there are no regulatory bodies for success or life coaches. 

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is one of the top organizations offering coaching certification. Once they have fulfilled the necessary standards, which include a training program and three to twelve months of mentorship under a more experienced coach, practitioners are recognized as ICF-accredited coaches. 

Also Read: 6 Tips To Find An Executive Coach

2. Treatments Provided


Psychiatrists can offer a variety of treatments depending on the specific issue and what will be most effective. These include:

    • Medication 

    • Comprehensive medical care, such as assessing your physical condition and pharmaceutical side effects, 

    • Psychosocial treatments

    •  Brain stimulation therapies like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)


Psychologists concentrate on providing psychological therapy.

Life coaches

Life coaches help clients recognize and describe their current problematic behaviors so that they can take steps to change them.

3. Conditions Treated


Psychologists typically handle disorders that don’t require prescription medications. These issues can include behavior, learning challenges, anxiety, and mild depression.

Also Read: Difference Between Panic Attack And Anxiety Attack


Psychiatrists typically deal with complex disorders that call for both medical attention and psychological assessments, such as:

    • Profound depression

    • Schizophrenia

    • Bipolar illness

Life coaches 

Life coaches may use psychotherapy with their clients. One of the most popular types of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Life coaches frequently use this framework to assist clients in reshaping unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.

4. Future Vs. Past Orientation

Another significant difference between psychologists, psychiatrists, and life coaches is that life coaches do not address issues related to past losses or traumas that have not yet been resolved.

While psychologists and psychiatrists frequently incorporate some understanding of the past as well as dealing with the present and planning for the near future, life coaching focuses solely on the present and future. 

Psychologists and psychiatrists use historical analysis to better comprehend the client’s present-day behavior. In other words, whereas coaches work on “how” to achieve a goal, therapists concentrate on “why” specific behavioral patterns develop.

Also Read: How To Find Your Passion In 8 Simple Steps

When to seek a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, or a Life coach 

It would be helpful to see a psychologist if you’re struggling with life issues and want to focus on better understanding your behaviors and thoughts. You may ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation to see a psychiatrist if you have more severe issues that typically call for medication.

In such cases, you can see both a psychologist and a psychiatrist because some illnesses, like anxiety and depression, can be addressed with a mix of talk therapy and medication. In these situations, a psychologist may conduct routine therapy sessions with you while a psychiatrist oversees your medical care.

You should seek a life coach if you’re getting ready to change jobs, relocate to a new place, or end a relationship. Making your transition as smooth as possible is important since you don’t want to exhaust your family and friends with discussions about the impending changes in your life. If you want to start new chapters on your terms, you’ll need a coaching expert to present options for how to proceed in that direction.

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to comparing a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a life coach, no one is superior or inferior. Everybody has various objectives. Therefore, what may be successful for one person may not be successful for another. 

A psychologist and psychiatrist can assist you in achieving your objectives and providing deeper self-exploration and cognitive tools for managing mental health. However, you can get great help from a life coach with goal-setting and developing an action plan to achieve your goals. 

Develop your confidence starting today with a FREE Discovery Call 
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Picture of Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero, an Elite Transformation and Executive Coach, specializes in high-performance coaching and personal transformation, guiding professionals to peak success and fulfillment. With decades of experience, Vivien empowers high achievers, executives, and entrepreneurs through mindset shifts and strategic development.
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