Coach vs Counselor, the debate continues. If I talk to 5 therapists a week, at least two of them will ask me one of the following questions: Should I switch to coaching from psychotherapy? Should I become a therapeutic coach? Do you think this coaching certification will help improve my referrals? When we explore at the core of their question is: Can I really make a livable income as a therapist? Is a private practice focusing on psychotherapy viable as a business in 2019 (or any other year)? If I become a coach vs counselor will it solve my financial stressors?
Yes, You Can Make a Great Income as a Therapist In Private Practice. No, you don’t have to become a coach vs a counselor to make more money in private practice.
I am not going to bury the lead or make you read the entire blog to get the answer. The answer is yes. But, you probably want to know how I know, and you probably have a bunch of follow-up questions about myths about the coach vs counselor debate that may keep you feeling unsure or stuck about whether you should switch to coaching or not. Let’s talk about a few of those ideas or myths.
Myth #1: People Will Pay More for Coaching Than Psychotherapy
The truth is that people will pay for services that they believe will help them and that meet their needs. We choose where to invest our time and money based on what information we have. So, why does it seem like you see people paying big money for coaching while you get people calling and haggling over your very modest fee? It truly comes down to: Are you doing a good job conveying to people your ability to help them? Coaches often get more training in how to convey that ability. Therapists are often trained to be vague and general in how they help, while coaches are trained to be specific and tangible.
Myth #2: Coaches can charge more than Psychotherapist or Counselors Can Charge
The truth is, what you charge is a business decision. What people will pay is a decision based on their budget, their confidence in your ability to help, and their willingness to invest in their own healing process. You can charge whatever you want. Therapists and coaches alike charge fees from $5 an hour to $1000 an hour (or more). For most therapists I’ve met, the biggest obstacle to charging a fee with confidence that is more aligned with their business needs is internal. While you could invest in a coaching program to convince you that you are worthy of charging a higher fee, you can do that at any time.
Myth #3: Coaching Is More Valuable Than Counseling Because of Stigma
There is a stigma about therapy AND coaching. There are also people who believe in counseling and coaching. A lot of people don’t understand what therapy is, and how it can help. This goes back to the earlier point: People will invest their time, energy, and money in things that they believe will help them. Psychotherapy works. You are trained to help people. Calling it by another name simply perpetuates the stigma and keeps people from getting the help that they deeply desire.
Myth #4: Coaching is a Better Service
Sometimes coaching is a better intervention than psychotherapy. Just like sometimes an SUV is a better fit for a family than a Prius. What service someone can best benefit from is based on a variety of factors. You, as a trained therapist are often better trained to assess what people will benefit from and get the best outcome from. As a therapist, you can easily move between Positive Psychology, coaching, and psychotherapy interventions. As a coach, you may not practice psychotherapy and your interventions may be limited.
Myth #5: I Can Simple Call Psychotherapy Coaching and Expand Outside of My License
This is just simply not true. Psychotherapy and coaching are different services. Simply calling your services by a different name does not make them a different service. And, in fact, it can have other repercussions that might not be helpful to your clients. Whether you can work with clients in other states, countries, etc. providing psychotherapy is based on the laws of that individual state. Here is a great article about practicing across state lines from Person Centered Tech.
Myth #6: There are No Drawbacks to Switching to Coaching vs Counseling
Across the United States and in many countries, psychotherapy is regarded as a very private, personal experience. Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege gives special protections that only available to psychotherapy clients. A confidential relationship is not the same as a relationship based on privilege. Many clients do not know or understand that difference and would prefer that extra protection if they knew it was available.
You don’t need to become a coach to make a sustainable income for you and your family. If you want to learn coaching interventions to improve your outcomes- do that! If your ideal clients would truly benefit more from coaching than psychotherapy, you like it better, and the drawbacks and limitations are outweighed- feel free to become a coach! But, don’t think you have to become a coach or get any sort of fancy certification in order to be successful as a therapist. You need to get clear about who you help, how you help, and how to convey that people. The trainings you attend each year help you dig in to get better outcomes- but ultimately you are worthy and capable of getting a higher fee now.