TEMECULA, Calif., Jan. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The primary fear of practicing life coaches has to do with therapy. How does one practice life coaching without unwittingly crossing the invisible line into clinical mental health?
The line that divides coaching and counseling is difficult, if not impossible, to see. Given that it's illegal to practice counseling without a license, the challenge comes with high stakes. Life coaches who venture into clinical waters are breaking the law.
As the life coaching industry grows unabated, is it putting coaches at risk? The problem is compounded by the mental health industrial complex, which can be expected to defend its territory by claiming if it looks like therapy, it is therapy.
iNLP Center co-founder Mike Bundrant weighed in on the subject. According to Mr. Bundrant, who oversees one of the largest life coach training institutes online, life coaching can be therapeutic. Lots of activities can have therapeutic value without crossing a line that only licensed counselors may cross. A good exercise regime along with good nutrition mentoring, for example, can increase wellbeing dramatically.
Bundrant maintains that the counseling industry does not own all activities that offer mental health benefits. Mr. Bundrant said, "The life coach and counseling industries have a long way to go to discover how to best complement each other. I've spoken with several lawyers who understand life coaching, only to learn that there isn't enough legal precedent to establish clear guidelines for life coaches. They simply do not have much legal advice to offer."
Bundrant, who is a formerly licensed mental health counselor, continued, "To me, the clear division between coaching and counseling has to do with clinical diagnoses. If a coach engages in the treatment of a proper clinical issue, then he or she is out of bounds. In the absence of a diagnosis or the apparent treatment of one, life coaching merely puts two people together to talk about what the client wants and how to get there."
Will the clinical diagnostic distinction win the day? No one can say for sure. Moreover, who is to determine whether or not clinical treatment takes place during the often complex interactions between coach and client?
As more and more consumers choose coach over therapy, the debate may heat up considerably in years to come.