The Coaching / Therapy Divide

My Role as a Coach and the Dangers of "TikTok Therapy"

The Coaching / Therapy Divide
The Coaching/Therapy Divide

My Role as a Coach and the Dangers of "TikTok Therapy"

As a coach focused on helping people achieve personal growth and fulfilment goals, I am deeply passionate about my work. However, given the recent rise of unqualified "coaches" and "therapists" offering services online, I believe it's crucial to outline the differences between coaching and therapy, explain when treatment is necessary, and provide resources to find legitimate support. 

My Background and Coaching Approach 

After decades in the corporate world, I came to coaching, where I led and developed talent and helped people craft concrete plans to improve their careers, relationships, and more. My specialty areas include goal setting, communication techniques, mindfulness, confidence-building, and helping people transition during major life changes. 

I use empirically backed techniques, such as, positive psychology, emotional intelligence (EQ), motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioural coaching tools, adapted for personal and professional development goals beyond treating mental illness. I aim to empower people to identify their strengths and build capabilities to overcome obstacles.

But I am not a therapist. I do not diagnose or treat mental illness. 

Anyone offering professional services must clarify vital distinctions between coaching and therapy so people understand when to seek coaching instead of therapeutic treatment.

What is Coaching?

Coaching focuses explicitly on setting and achieving personal and professional goals. For example, areas coaches can help with may include:

  • Developing habits to improve physical fitness 
  • Building strategies to advance a career 
  • Finding techniques to boost productivity
  • Cultivating better work/life balance
  • Breaking significant goals down into manageable steps

The key is that coaches zero in on tangible objectives and equip clients with the tools to succeed. We concentrate on the present and future, using the client’s strengths to move them forward.

My expertise can significantly benefit highly functioning people looking to optimize aspects of their lives.

However, coaching is not a substitute for therapy for those struggling with mental health issues.

What Coaching is NOT

While I integrate techniques from evidence-backed approaches into my coaching, it differs significantly from psychotherapy in a clinical context. 


  • I do not diagnose or treat mental illness 
  • I do not ask about or explore past trauma as a therapist would
  • I avoid delving into how issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD relate to early childhood or past experiences 

For example, a coach may help someone lower workplace anxiety by teaching time management tactics. But we do not provide in-depth counselling exploring how underlying emotional triggers from past trauma may contribute to these feelings.

My coaching also differs from that of unqualified or poorly trained "life coaches," who potentially claim to treat conditions in which they lack expertise. Responsible coaches understand their limitations and refer clients to vital mental health treatment.

The Dangers of "TikTok-Therapists"

A troubling trend has emerged on platforms like YouTube and TikTok of unlicensed creators without psychology credentials filming themselves "counselling" followers.

While some may have good intentions, these "TikTok-therapists" can severely harm vulnerable people seeking genuine support. Allowing amateur advisors to act as mental health professionals trivializes actual treatment and propagates misinformation.

For example, an unqualified YouTuber trying exposure therapy on someone with trauma can retraumatize them when done recklessly. Those facing suicidal ideation need compassionate crisis intervention from accredited practitioners.

But amateur creators often exploit such severe cases for views while dispensing dangerously lousy advice. And "treating" subscribers in public videos utterly violates patient confidentiality, which ethical therapies rely on.

The most hazardous element stems from the power imbalance innate to these creators having impressionable followers. When fans develop parasocial bonds with YouTube or TikTok celebrities, they can feel intensely loyal and trusting. This gives unqualified hosts enough undue sway to seriously endanger fans already struggling with mental illness.

For instance, creators might encourage followers to abruptly stop medication against doctors’ orders or shame them for taking prescribed drugs. Other amateur advice may inadvertently worsen depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts without fans even telling close friends and family members.

While social media can help break down barriers around mental illness, allowing content creators to pose as therapists can make proper treatment seem quick and easy when it requires accredited professionals.

If you struggle with ongoing depression, trauma, suicidal thoughts or any mental health disruption, you deserve compassionate care from an actual counsellor upholding vital ethical and competency standards.

Seeking this support takes courage, but refusing amateur therapy from YouTube, TikTok, or any unqualified source does not mean giving up. It means you value your wellness enough to demand credible care. 

You deserve far better than dangerous quick fixes from social media influencers playing therapists.

When Therapy May Be the Right Choice  

While coaching can tremendously help some people improve their lives, others need clinical mental health treatment through an accredited therapist.

Signs someone may benefit most from therapy include but are not limited to:

  • Extended feelings of deep sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Severe anxiety, panic attacks or phobias disrupting daily life  
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Trauma or PTSD symptoms like flashbacks 
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Relationship issues stemming from abusive dynamics or betrayals

It's crucial to know needing therapy does not mean someone is "crazy" or irreparably "broken." People go to therapy at some point for issues ranging from life transitions to trauma to mental illness. Seeking counselling signifies strength and self-awareness.

Potential clients experiencing any ongoing intrusive thoughts, emotional disruptions, or relationship rifts connected to past abuse should prioritize seeking in-depth treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

How I Can Help You Find a Therapist

Anyone who knows me knows I’m open and honest about my journey through therapy. I’ve been diagnosed with both ADHD and Major Depressive Disorder. Still, thanks to appropriate interventions and treatments from psychiatrists and psychologists, neither of these issues impedes living a fulfilling and, yes, happy life. 

While I cannot provide therapy myself, I can be an ear to help ease your concerns about going to therapy. I liken it to seeing a doctor if you have a broken leg. You’re not going to ignore it and hope you’ll be back running in the park eventually; you’ll see a doctor who will treat your bones and get you back to health. That’s what mental health professionals will do when you’re in need. 

I want to offer solutions to help people find the treatment they need when it exceeds my coaching expertise or qualifications. I will point you to reputable resources for finding accredited providers.

The first step is identifying the type of mental health worker best suited to your needs:

  • Psychologists focus on counselling and psychotherapy without prescriptions 
  • Psychiatrists are doctors who can prescribe medication and provide therapy  
  • Licensed professional counsellors have specialized training in treatment approaches
  • Licensed clinical social workers also offer counselling and therapy 

Sites like let you search therapists by specialty, cost, location, insurance accepted, treatment approaches offered and other filters. 

The American Psychological Association website lets you browse explanations of different therapy types, from person-centred talk therapy to intensive treatments like EMDR. Understanding these modalities helps match clients to practitioners using evidence-backed methods suited for specific issues.

For those struggling financially, resources like connect people with affordable and culturally sensitive therapy options in person, over video, or via chat. 

It's worth investing time in finding the right fit, given how crucial a therapist's guidance can be for making progress on entrenched mental health challenges.

I want you to be the best you that you can be

My mission is to provide clients with a customized roadmap to help them reach aspirational goals through coaching services. I also aim to steer people toward vital therapy when necessary while debunking stigmas surrounding the need for this support. 

Therapy and coaching can work exceptionally well together, with coaches supplying motivation and accountability to apply therapists' insights around conflicting emotions, trauma recovery, healthy relating and more, but understanding when each one's unique expertise is essential.

That is why I'm committed to transparency about my limits and to protecting people from those falsely claiming training they lack. My duty is to uphold strict ethical standards while compassionately explaining therapy's differences from coaching so people can make informed choices about matching services to their needs.

With the right balance of services from accredited mental health and coaching practitioners, building a fulfilling life within reach of one's full potential is possible. But reckless online purveyors do real damage by muddying their understanding of this nuance. Moving forward I'll continue clarifying my role while working to hold all practitioners accountable to standards governing suitable care unique to coaching and clinical contexts.

The path to well-being and fulfillment rarely follows a straight line. But understanding when we may benefit from guidance at different junctures enables us to seek the exact support we need when we need it most.

Unlock Your Potential