Can a life coach help with depression? Key facts to know.

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If you’ve ever struggled with depression, you’ll know first-hand how debilitating it can be. Some common depression symptoms include low mood, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of interest in life¹. Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is highly treatable², and there are many different options available to address the symptoms.

As a complex mental health disorder, clinical depression often requires a combination of treatments. Antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually the first line-treatment for moderate to severe depression³. However, these are often paired with psychological treatments such as talk therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to manage the core symptoms.

Table of contents
Understanding how a life coach can help with depression
What is a life coach vs a psychologist, therapist and counselor?
Should a life coach treat your depression?
How can life coaching help treat depression?
Supporting a loved one with depression
Resources for mental health support
Frequently asked questions

Understanding how a life coach can help with depression

Lifestyle changes and mindset work are also important parts of the depression puzzle. Whether it’s helping you stick to healthy habits or improving your resilience, a life coach can be a great part of your support team. In this article, we’ll explore how a personalized coaching program such as Fingerprint for Success (F4S) can help you improve your mental health and achieve your life goals.

What is a life coach vs a psychologist, therapist and counselor?

Whether you’re seeking help for yourself or for a loved one, it’s important to understand the different types of support available. This will allow you to choose the best mental health provider for your needs.

How do psychiatrists help with depression?

Psychiatrists are medical health providers (ie. doctors) who specialize in mental health. They are able to diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe medication. Typically, psychiatrists do not provide talk therapy. Their primary role is to create treatment plans, making them an important resource for those with clinical depression. You will require a referral from a doctor or psychologist to see a psychiatrist.

How do psychologists help with depression?

Like psychiatrists, psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals. However, they are not doctors and can not prescribe medication. The primary role of the psychologist is to assess and treat clients. They tend to work with clients long-term to help them understand the root cause of their issues, and manage the daily symptoms. There are many different types of psychologists, and they specialize in different modalities. For example, CBT, Jungian or Gestalt psychology are common approaches.

How do therapists help with depression?

Psychotherapists and psychologists are similar, in that they both offer talk therapy. However, the primary role of therapy is to provide a safe space for sharing, while psychologists also focus on analysis. Like a psychologist, a therapist may bring different therapeutic styles into their work to create a holistic approach. They can help with depression by providing a structured way to talk through what the client is experiencing.

How do counselors help with depression?

A common misconception is that therapists and counselors are the same thing. However, there are important differences. Firstly, they undergo different tertiary pathways. The field of counseling is not regulated and therefore, does not require a university or college degree. However, that’s not to say that counselors don’t play an important role in treating depression. They tend to work with clients on more specific, short-term issues (such as addiction or relationship issues). Meanwhile, psychologists and therapists typically work long-term with the client to identity patterns.

How do life coaches help with depression?

It’s important to know that life coaches are not licensed mental health professionals. This means they are not able to help with a depression diagnosis, treatment, or crisis support. However, they can still play an invaluable role in helping clients with depression. A life coach is someone who works with clients to make progress with their life and career goals. They can also help clients set and track health and wellness habits to better manage their symptoms.

Life coaches typically do not tell clients what to do. Rather, they provide the framework and structure for coachees to reach their own conclusions. Research shows that goal setting is an important part of the depression recovery process.⁴ So, it's no surprise that working with a life coach can be incredibly empowering for those with depression.

Should a life coach treat your depression?

Wondering whether a life coach can help with your depression? The answer depends largely on where you are in your healing journey.

Firstly, if you have not been diagnosed with depression but suspect you fit the bill, it’s important to see a doctor. They will ask you questions about your symptoms and determine whether you fit the diagnostic criteria. They will also talk you through your treatment options.

It’s important to know that coaches, therapists, and counselors can not diagnose mental health issues. However, psychologists can, and in some scenarios your doctor may refer you to one for assessment.

Getting an official diagnosis is helpful for a couple of reasons. Research shows that a diagnosis helps foster self-understanding.⁵ This, in turn, can lead to improved self-esteem and better treatment outcomes.

Moreover, a diagnosis and referral is required to access mental health medication. In some countries, you can also access subsidized mental health support if you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. An example of this is the Mental Health Treatment Plan in Australia, where you can get Medicare rebates on up to 20 psychology sessions.

One important caveat is that you don’t necessarily need a diagnosis to access professional mental health support. If you are struggling with a low mood, poor self-worth, or emotional regulation issues, this should be your next stop — whether you’re diagnosed or not. After all, everyone deserves someone to talk to! This may be a psychologist, psychotherapist, or counselor, depending on your specific needs and budget.

If you choose to see a psychologist or psychotherapist, the two most important things to look for are:

Training: Both psychologists and psychotherapists should be university-trained, with a minimum of a Master’s degree. They should also be licensed and registered under the local regulation guidelines of your country. You may notice that some psychologists are provisionally registered. This means they have completed their Honors degree but are still undergoing supervision or further education. These providers will usually be more affordable, but may not have as much experience.

Area of specialization: Most registered psychologists and psychotherapists should be well-versed in depression. However, it’s a good idea to take a look at their speciality to determine if they’re a good fit for you. For example, if you’re a busy professional who struggles with perfectionism, seek someone who works with this demographic.

Alternatively, you may decide that working with a counselor is a better option for you at this stage. This may be because you’re on a tight budget, or because you would prefer to work on a specific issue for a shorter timeframe. As mentioned, there are fewer regulations governing counselors than psychologists or therapists. However, you should still look for someone who is highly trained in the area you need help with (for example, personal relationships). Most countries also have their own counseling federations. These indicate that the provider has undergone adequate training. So, this is another helpful resource to use when choosing a counselor.

Once your daily symptoms are manageable, then you might consider hiring a life coach. Some doctors recommend against undergoing more than one type of talk therapy at a time, as this can complicate treatment.⁶ For this reason, the best time to see a life coach would likely be after you have completed professional treatment.

For those who are in recovery from health issues — whether mental or physical — working with a life coach can have tangible benefits. Two randomized controlled trials found that coaching methods that focus on self-efficacy (your ability to do what you say you will) can improve health outcomes⁷. Plus, ICF research⁸ shows that 63% of coaching clients report it improves their overall wellbeing, as well as their self-esteem/self-confidence (80%), relationships (73%) and work/life balance ( 67%).      

So, what type of life coach should you see?

There's a plethora of life coach options to choose from. Some life coaches are mindset experts, while others specialize in professional development. As always, the right partnership will depend on your goals.

If you're looking to improve your mental health, F4S has created a collection of expert guides and coaching programs to help. These will be a great support for you. Fingerprint For Success’ personalized coaching is designed to get you feeling excited to jump out of bed in the morning again. Using a science-backed, AI-powered approach, F4S can help you:

Understand yourself: Take our highly accurate assessment to gain a deeper awareness of what motivates you and makes you tick.

Improve wellbeing: Get back to feeling like the most energized, vibrant version of yourself.

Crush your goals: Set goals for your personal development and get a clear, step-by-step plan to achieve them.

Feel empowered: Work on your self-esteem and resilience, so you feel ready to tackle any challenges life throws at you.

At this stage, you might be wondering how AI coaching fits into the equation of treating depression. To answer this question, it’s important to understand the strengths and limitations of mental health chatbots.

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What AI coaching can’t do for people with depression 

While F4S’s coach, Marlee is extremely advanced, she can’t replace a mental health professional. Typically, mental health chatbots can not help in the case of an emergency. If you're experiencing a depressive episode or crisis, AI coaching will not be right for your needs.

However, the world of AI coaching is always evolving to better suit the needs of individuals. We are working on even more sophisticated ways for AI Coach Marlee to understand and react to human emotions in the future.

How can life coaching help treat depression?

Depression coaching is not something that exists — and if you do encounter a service that is marketed this way, it’s wise to steer clear. If you are experiencing mental health issues, seeing a professional should always be top priority.

However, if you have completed treatment and your core symptoms are under control, seeing a life coach can have many benefits. You can think of life coaching as being like a coach for a sport team. Their role is to guide you to set motivating goals and improve your performance, so you can reach your full potential. But rather than performance on a sporting field, they help you get the best out of your life, career, and relationships.

Highly trained life coaches also bring in some of the traits of a therapist. They can work with you to deconstruct unhelpful thoughts and work through any issues you're having. However, unlike working with a therapist or psychologist, you won’t be required to delve back into past experiences or trauma. In fact, most life coaches are future-oriented, which can be empowering for someone with depression.

Life coaches are also great sources of accountability. Usually, you will meet with your coach a few times a month for an extended period of time (three, six, and 12-month packages are common). They will be aware of the goals you're trying to achieve and will check on your progress. They’ll also be able to give you some tough love and a pep talk, should you fall off track.

Here’s what working with a life coach might look like when it comes to building positive new habits.

Life coaching for self-care: A life coach will be able to help you find nurturing self-care techniques that feel good for you. They’ll also help keep you accountable to practice these daily.

Life coaching for weight loss: Unless they are a qualified PT or nutritionist, a life coach can not create personalized meal plans or fitness routines. However, they will be able to help you identify your health motivations and keep you accountable to your workout plans. This may also be referred to as 'wellness coaching.'

Life coaching for productivity: If you struggle with focus or procrastination, a life coach can help you develop helpful time management strategies. They’ll also be able to help you determine what motivates you (helping you get into a 'flow state.')

Life coaching for personal finances: As with weight loss, a life coach can not provide financial advice to clients. However, they can work with clients to develop a helpful mindset and habits around money. For example, they may work with you on strategies for avoiding splurge spending.

At Fingerprint4Success, our coaching approach focuses on behavior change. We help you identify the things you already want to do, and give you the tools and support to do it. We do this by using advanced, layered technology that guides you through a process of self-discovery and personal growth. Here’s how F4S’ coaching for individuals works:

1. Take our free assessment, which is over 90% accurate and measures your motivation across 48 different motivational traits.

2. Dive into your report to understand what drives you, and identity opportunities for self-growth.

3. Set the key goals you would like to work on — whether that’s in your work, life, relationships, or health.

4.Our new F4S insight cards use AI to identify the best coaching programs to reach your goal.

5. Supercharge your goal progress with flexible, 15-minute coaching sessions with our AI coach, Marlee.

An overview of goals

Ultimately, the best life coaches fall somewhere in between a sounding board, cheerleader and mentor. Whether this coaching comes from a person or an AI bot is simply a matter of preference.

Supporting a loved one with depression

Whether it’s a friend, family member or partner, supporting a loved one through depression can be challenging. Many people feel helpless and frustrated that they can’t ‘fix’ the situation. The good news is, you don’t have to be a mental health professional to help. In fact, there’s a lot we can learn from coaches about the best ways to help someone with depression.

Create a safe space

Don’t underestimate the power of simply letting your loved one know you’re there. Providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on can make all the difference to someone who is struggling. A good way to approach this is to gently tell them you've noticed they haven't quite been themselves lately. Then, you can tell them you're always here to listen.

Listen without judgment

So, your loved one has taken you up on your offer and has come to you for help. The key here is to offer your undivided attention and unconditional support. Resist the urge to give advice or share your personal experience. Instead, simply listen. It’s also important not to make statements such as “I’m sure it’s not that bad,” or “look on the bright side,” as this can feel invalidating to someone with depression.

Point them in the right direction

Even the best listeners have their limitations, and it's important not to overstep into 'therapy' territory. Once you've heard them out, the best next step is to help them get the support they need. Not sure where to start? Check out the section below for helpful mental health resources by region.

If you’re not confident in your ability to support a loved one, develop or strengthen your emotional intelligence (EQ) with our coaching program to level up your interpersonal skills.

Resources for mental health support

Are you experiencing the signs of depression, or are you looking to support a loved one? Here are the best mental health resources and crisis helplines for each region.

Australia

Beyond Blue - National mental health support organization. Provides 24/7 helpline, online chat, and resources for anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention. Phone: 1300 224 636

Lifeline - National crisis support and suicide prevention organization. Provides 24/7 helpline and online chat. Phone: 13 11 14

Headspace - National organization providing mental health support and services to young people aged 12-25. Phone: 1800 650 890

​​United Kingdom

Samaritans - National crisis support and suicide prevention organization. Provides 24/7 helpline and email support. Phone: 116 123 (UK) or +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (International)​​

Mind - National organization providing mental health resources, programs, and services for individuals and families affected by mental illness. Phone: 0300 123 3393

United States

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - National crisis support and suicide prevention organization. Provides 24/7 helpline and online chat. Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

SAMHSA - National organization focused on mental health and substance abuse treatment. Provides resources and information on mental health and addiction, as well as treatment referrals. Phone: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Crisis Text Line - National crisis support organization. Provides 24/7 text messaging support for individuals in crisis. Text "HOME" to 741741.

Rest of the world:

Visit this global directory of crisis guidelines.

Recovering from major depression isn't an easy road. The good news is, there is always help available to support you to create a life you love. Now that you understand the difference between coaching and therapy, you can identify the right support at every step of your journey.

Frequently asked questions

Can a life coach help with anxiety?

As with depression, a life coach is not licensed to treat anxiety disorders. However, once you have completed professional treatment, they can be helpful for improving your mindset and overall wellbeing.

Is a life coach a mental health professional?

No. Unless they have additional qualifications such as a psychologist, therapist or counsellor, a life coach is not a mental health professional.

How often should you see a life coach?

Most life coaches see their clients weekly or twice a month⁹. This frequency helps to build a strong coach-client relationship and achieve positive results.

Can a life coach help with confidence?

Absolutely, many life coaches have coaching techniques to improve your confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.

How to become a professional life coach?

Want to make a living helping others achieve their goals? Becoming a professional life coach may be a great career path for you. Learn more about our F4S coach training.

Maintain positive mental health

Answer the questions in our assessment to discover more about your motivations and blind spots. The F4S assessment measures 48 motivations (with up to 98% reliability) so you know exactly how to bring out your best.

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Our expert coaches developed a 9-week Vital Wellbeing program to help you learn how to calm anxiety quickly and build emotional resistence.

Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to personalize the program so you see results as quickly as possible.

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Show References
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  1. Beyond Blue (2022). 'Depression Signs & Symptoms,' Available at: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/mental-health/depression
  2. American Psychological Association (2014). 'Overcoming Depression: How Psychologists Help With Depressive Disorders. Available at: https://www.apa.org/topics/depression/overcoming
  3. The National Health Service (2019). 'Treatment — Clinical Depression.' Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/treatment/
  4. Jacob, J et. al (2022) 'Goal Setting For People With Depression And Anxiety.' Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9281142/
  5. Connor, C et. al (2014) 'How Does Psychiatric Diagnosis Affect Young People's Self-Concept and Social Identity.' Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30029092/
  6. Superprof (2018). 'Can Life Coaches Help People Living With Depression?'. Available at: https://www.superprof.com.au/blog/life-coaches-and-depression/
  7. Ammentorp, J et al (2013) 'Can Life Coaching Improve Health Outcomes? – A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies.' Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015179/
  8. International Coach Federation (2009) 'ICF Global Coaching Client Study.' Available at: https://researchportal.coachingfederation.org/Document/Pdf/abstract_190
  9. Wiedner, S (2023) 'How Does Life Coaching Work?' Available at: https://www.noomii.com/article/how-does-life-coaching-work

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