Do you know what is the difference? Or is it the same thing? Most people are confused when it comes to this differentiation, mostly because it is not that easy to simply explain it. Of course, the most straightforward explanation is: A psychologist is someone, who graduated in psychology, a psychotherapist has done psychotherapeutic training and a coach has his coaching training. But what does this mean for you? That's what we are going to find out in this article.

A psychologist is the easiest term to explain. It really means that the person graduated from some master's degree programme in psychology. Some countries could also count bachelor's degrees, but usually, it takes more to gain this title. Psychologists could have some special privileges, for example in the Czech Republic, they could use psychodiagnostic tests and methods that are forbidden for public use. But the path doesn't end here, to work in a specific field, psychologists have to learn more to become for example clinical, sports, school, police or army psychologist, and so on. Or they can stay at the university to become a researcher. Another way is to become a psychotherapist or a coach.

Theoretically, one can obtain all three identities at once. But is it necessary for a coach or psychotherapist to be also a psychologist? In a lot of countries, nobody has any right to control or restrict this, so the answer is no. But having some sort of basic knowledge about human psyché and experience with working with people is vital for this job. Sure, some people can reach even greater knowledge on their own, sometimes better than an educated psychologist. It is always about what you do, rather than if you are at school or not. But a degree is always more of a good sign than just some unnecessary information. For example, if I wasn't studying extra books and attending optional and third-party courses, I wouldn't be as prepared for working with people as I was. Just for completion, a psychologist is not a psychiatrist (a medical doctor who specializes in psychical illnesses), so we are not allowed to prescribe medication or officially issue diagnoses (this can vary between countries).

So who is the psychotherapist? Theoretically speaking, it should be someone who successfully finished at least one long-term psychotherapeutic training. Practically, in many countries including my own, it could be anyone who calls themself by this title. It is usually harder to find the right person for you when you don't know what to look for. A good start is the mentioned training, which usually takes three to nine years to finish, and it usually requires its attendants to be a psychologists or psychiatrists. But there are 20 psychotherapeutic schools that are "accepted" in Europe and all of them have several branches with different methods. So it really depends. Some schools accept attendants from similar professions like nurses and social workers, and some don't even care who you are.

Naturally, it is about what people know rather than what they have on paper, but especially with psychotherapy, it really depends on education as it is delicate and complex work. Therapists should know exactly what they are doing, so they won't hurt their clients for example by opening something they are not yet prepared for. Or that they wouldn't just take their money every week with no results or progress. And that is where you could really appreciate good foundations from school and training. Training usually contains theory, supervision from experts in a given field on their first real client's cases and also attendance of their own therapy sessions where future therapists work on their own issues first.

Psychotherapy is a fantastic tool, as it usually goes on for long months, even years, and everything is planned and systematically designed to get to the problem and heal it over time. I would highly recommend it to anyone with more severe issues like personality disorders or psychosis. And I even refer my clients with these types of problems to psychotherapy. But when psychotherapy is good for severe issues, why do all the therapists claim that they can help with usual issues and personal growth? Obviously, they have to pay their rent, so they need clients. And also I¨m not saying that it could not help, after all, even chakras balancing and reviewing past lives is helping people. I totally respect the power of belief and that there are various ways towards the same goal. But it is up to you to consider, whether you need to spend money for long-term therapy or (most commonly phoney) energetic magic.

Because Coaching offers exactly what psychotherapy lacks. Or at least most of the time. Thanks to the current system in my country and most others, coaching is not regulated by any means, and anybody could legally offer this kind of service. Coaching training could last years, months, or just one weekend. Methods and schools are not regulated or controlled. And because it is really trendy and people tend to pay a lot of money for it, a lot of chakra masters, energy harmonizers and occultists are hiding under this name. And not only that, but you can also find a lot of people who are more interested in your money than your well-being and that would do anything to make you believe in their value.

But if you will find a coach with good qualifications that knows what they are doing, coaching could help you solve mundane and also extraordinary issues that could be found in your life. It is such a big help and relief for anyone who doesn't need to be under psychiatric or psychotherapeutic care. People who just struggle with stage fright before their presentation, who don't know how to communicate with their partner or who are not able to leave their phone to get down to work. And of course, even the most usual issues could be the hardest in any individual's life, that's why I didn't call them "light" in opposition to severe. Every issue has its difficulty, if it all was easily solvable we would be all trouble-free.

Usually, coaching happens through focusing on one specific issue and finding resources and options on how to solve it. There is no need to talk for hours about your childhood, family and all the other context. Just focused work on a specific cause. I am personally also trying to enlighten the path of how we got there, so the client could use it in other cases. It is the reason why I stopped my psychotherapy training after a few courses and a lot of books, to shift my focus towards coaching. There is no need to make people addicted to the long-term process.

You are seeing a psychotherapist once a week, but you can work with yourself 24/7. There is always some way. I spent long years working on myself, I even wrote a book Almanac of Addictions (that is still not fully translated into English unfortunately) where I described my path and also what way people could take to search for their own independence. So work on addictions follows me even through the usual coaching sessions, where I teach people how to be independent even towards myself as a coach, in the best-case scenario after the first session.

That was a bit of a differentiation between these terms, I hope you enjoyed it and that it shed light on the topic for you. Hopefully, when you will need some help, you will know who to ask and how to detect if they know what they are doing. And I will be looking forward to meeting you in another blog post, or even online during a coaching session.

Karel Kylián