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Grief Coach v. Therapist




A coach is to a counselor what a physician's assistant is to a doctor. Mimi Rothschild


A therapist and counselor must have a college education, usually a masters level degree. A Grief Coach does not need any formal educational training but will greatly benefit from a certified and accredited training program such as the ones offered here at the Global Grief Institute.


A therapist deals mostly with a person's past and trauma, and generally assumes the client has a psychological issue that needs to be resolved. Some dysfunction is usually identified and then the therapist works with the client to mitigate or alleviate the damage that dysfunction causes. Traditional psychotherapy addresses the patient's history, family dynamics, broken relationships and psyche damage. Therapists attempt to root out all any and all causal damage and then propose alternative ways for the patient to cope with or even overcome those dysfunctions. Clients seek therapists when they  want to fix something that is wrong. They look to their therapists as one who holds the answers and the techniques to eliminate that problem. A therapist typically consults the DSM- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders while looking for a diagnosis which is imperative if insurance will cover the sessions.


Grief Clients seek coaches to walk beside them through their healingand recovery as a friend might do if they had the proper training and understanding needed to be effective and non-judgmental. Many people who would not seek therapy with a counselor because of the stigma and shame sadly still attached to that field will feel differently about entering into a coaching relationship because it is not based on the idea that something is wrong with the client.


Therapists assume a Doctor-patient,Older/Wiser, Younger/LessExpert-Person with Problem. Grief coach is more like an educator and a student, but an educator who gives the client the tools to learn on her own. Grief  coaches do not diagnose their clients as do therapists who figure out their patient's illnesses and pathologies so they can establish a clinical treatment plan. Therapists delve into their client’s past as a lens for iidentifying present problematic behaviors. 


Coaches assume a co-creative equal partnershiprelationship. The Grief Coach helps client discoverthe answers inside their clients. A therapist has the answers and imparts them to their patient. The difference between a life coach and therapist is that a life coach sets clients up with a process that may be long or short-term, instead of regular sessions. Grief Coaching work with a client to clarify goals and identify obstacles and problematic behaviors in order to create action plans to achieve desired results. Grief Coaching accepts that the client’s current starting point as an acceptable neutral ground and is more action-based from that point onward. A Grief Coach enables the client to regain control of their life and take action to steer it toward their goals. as they integrate the devastating losses into their new normal.

The Consultant stands back,The Coach stands with you.


The Grief Coach brings her expertise and guidelines to give you a pathand wisdom for the stated victories and holds youaccountable to reach yourdesired goals. They don t need, ortrue as well, but a therapist may doof managed care and the rigid application of the medical model to the helping-usually even desire, a diagnostic label.coaching with a former therapy clientofGrief coaches know that a mourner does not necessarily have something broken thatneeds to be fixed. Grief is a natural, normal and healthy process of recognizing the immense loss that has happened to them and then walking with them as they find a new way to live with this awful reality.


The coaching relationship is egalitarian one. Grief coaching clients do not a dysfunction  or pathology of any sort. -important to keep miles between yourcollegial, and balanced, and has thefunction acoaching and therapy practices if youflavor of an active partnership. Lifein pain. They might have a little generalchoose to have both. Additionally, oncecoaches assume that clients hold themalaise because they want more out ofa person has been your coaching client,necessary knowledge and the solutions;life and don t know how to get s unwise to take him or her into yourthe coach simply helps unlock their wis-Economists call this category of peopletherapy practice. The reverse is mostlydom.


Coaching vs. Therapy Dialogue

Consider this dialogic differencebetween therapy and coaching clients. Therapy client:" I just don't know what's the matter with me. I am so depressed."


Coaching client: "I'm not sure where to go next; I want to have more time with my family, but everything reminds me of my loved one who died and no one else wants to talk about him so I feel alienated from everyone."


 Coaching clients often know where they want to go; coaches help them clarify goals and see their way more clearly. There is not a power differential per se in coaching as there can be in a relationship with a counselor.


Egalitarian Relationship

Good coaches make a conscious effort to keep the relationship balanced. If you were to observe a coaching session, you would see that it is typically very open, often friendly, casual, and light.  Grief coaches cry and laugh with their clients and, when appropriate, may even joke or gently tease. With caution, life coaches may feel comfortable sharing personal experiences that are pertinent to what the client is experiencing. although the client is not paying you to unburden your grief. Clients and coaches feel as though they know each other on a deeper level than may be the case in many other professional relationships, and many coaching clients report that they appreciate that openness and closeness.


Code of Ethics

At the same time, coaches are professionals and should act accordingly. The International Coach Federation's Code of Ethics delineates the high standards of professional behavior appropriate to the practice of life coaching. The collegial nature of the relationship between coach and client in no way lessens the importance of abiding by ethical and professional guidelines.

Transferable Skills

If you have been trained as a therapist or counselor, much of what you have learned will serve you well as a coach. Listening skills, reframing, positive regard for the client, note taking, and process skills are just a few of the transferable skills. Additionally, you know how to conduct intake interviews and discuss difficult issues with clients, and have probably heard such a variety of stories in therapy that you won t be surprised by the issues that clients bring to coaching. If you are trained in solution-focused therapy, which uses a group of questions to focus the client s attention and awareness on what works rather than what is broken, you already have a valuable set of tools you can transfer to life coaching.

The mourner does not need an expert to fix them, they need a companion to walk with them.

The mourner needs kindness & goodness, safe spaces, endless time, warm wisdom without judgment.


Mimi Rothschild, Grief Specialist and Author
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