Article A grief coach can really make a difference in the healing process, but how do you know if a coach is what you need? 4 2019 Life coaching Family coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub
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Should You Choose a Grief Coach or a Grief Counselor? A Comparison

TAGS: coaching, life coaching, business coaching, coach, life coach, self help, personal development child loss, loss of a child, bereaved, grieving mother, grieving parent, death of a child, grief coaching, grief counseling, life coaching, coaching, grieving process

Coaching is a relatively new profession

grief coaching

Years after my son Nicholas’ death, I started feeling a pull to become a grief counselor (therapist) so I could help other moms suffering through their own child loss.

But then I was introduced to grief COACHING, and fell in love with the concept of helping Moms all over the world deal with the loss of a child.

Coaching is a relatively new profession (there are coaches for business, confidence, relationships, money, and more, plus general life coaching), but don’t count it out just because you aren’t familiar with it. 

I think coaching is comparable to what we thought about working out in the 1950’s & ‘60’s.  Very few people exercised, went to the gym, got sweaty, had muscles (except maybe Jack LaLanne - I’m revealing my age!)  Nowadays, working out is commonplace, accepted and recommended to have a healthy body. The concept of coaching is the same - except in the case of coaching, we’re promoting a healthy mind.

So if you’ve lost a child you might be asking, “Should I see a grief coach or a grief therapist?”

It really depends on what you’re seeking. Think of it like this: if you wanted to improve your muscle tone and overall health, would you go see a sports medicine doctor or a personal trainer?

Right after Nick died, I went to Therapy, and it was helpful to a point. For me, my therapy ended fairly quickly when I had accepted what happened and it seemed like we were just repeating the same conversation over and over.  

Oh my goodness, how I could have benefitted from Grief Coaching at that time!

Comparison of Grief Therapy and Grief Coaching

Here is MY comparison of the two:


Grief Therapy

Grief Coaching


Past Focused - explore unresolved feelings surrounding the past relationship with the loved one

Future Focused - Starts with where you are and emphasizes self knowledge, self development, and self management - a goal of personal growth after devastating loss


Seeks to move a patient from non-functioning to functioning

Seeks to move a client from functioning to highly functioning


Diagnose and treat mental disorders - sometimes with medication

Assumes client is okay and full of potential.  Cannot diagnose illness such as clinical depression or prescribe medication


Emotion focused - emphasizes feelings

Action focused - emphasizes behavior and thinking


Usually considered a long term commitment for realizing insights or change

Major changes and realizations can take place in a relatively short amount of time


Seeks to heal medical disorders so their patient can deal with everyday life

Seeks to help a client honor a loved one by helping them find a way to have an extraordinary life


Grief Therapist determines objectives based on diagnosis

Client determines objectives based on how they want to feel and their goals. A grief coach can see your strengths and talents, and hold up the mirror for you to see too.


Requires Advanced Degrees in Psychology or Psychiatry.  Patients rarely get to know any personal details about the Therapist.

Requires a genuine desire to help people with a specific problem or goal.  A Coach’s personal experience can be very helpful. Some specialize in working with a specific type of client (ie: Moms that have lost a child)


Regulated: Usually meet in person, licensed on a state by state basis. This can keep a therapist from working with someone in another state.

Flexible and Convenient: Can be easily conducted in-person or virtually by phone, e-mail or video chat. Coaches can work with people across town or across the world.


Asks the question “Why?”

Asks the question “What’s next?”

Final Thoughts About Therapy vs. Grief Coaching

Obviously, I truly believe in Grief Coaching. I believe because I have personally seen the results my clients have experienced when adding coaching to their grieving process.  Many times I have watched a Mom realize that life can be happy again, life can be good again, and start looking forward to their future again.   

But Grief Coaching is NOT for everyone. In cases where bereavement has caused severe depression, the inability to deal with daily tasks or the need to explore the details of their loved ones death in order to accept reality a Therapist is necessary and life giving.  I know because a Therapist helped me with the the acceptance piece of my grief journey.

However, for those who are ready and willing to ask the question “Where do I go from here?”, working with a Grief Coach will help you not only “bounce back” but “bounce forward”!

If you are a Mom who’s lost a child, please consider Grief Coaching. I would love to talk to you further about the possibilities and whether or not it’s right for your particular situation.



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  • susan
    April 15, 2020

    This is a really upsetting and misinformed description of grief therapy I have ever seen. I am so sorry that it sounds like you saw a grief counserlor who was using decades outdated approaches. It is terrifying to me if acceptance was a goal! A therapist should NEVER set your objectives, there is no diagnostic process in grief counseling. I understand your goal here is to promote coaching, which is fine, but I do hope you’ll consider revising this to reflect grief counseling ideas that aren’t from the 1970s, as not to discourage people from grief therapy with misinformation.

  • Deanna
    February 06, 2021

    Susan's comments are 100% on target.
    I am 20 years in as a grief counselor in hospice, an early widow at age 29, I'm only 50 now.
    Anyone who has a reputation for being an effective grief counselor has organically counseled, coached, and encouraged the grieving individual to teach us while we walk with them through their loss. This site attempts to discredit that idea and makes assumptions that people are ready to be coached.

  • Reba
    October 06, 2021

    I agree with Susan and Deanna's comments. I have been a grief counselor for 10 years. There are so many points above that are not only concerning, they are dangerous. Counselors use evidence based practices, and hold licenses for a reason. It is important and ethical to be able to show that the treatment you are charging people for 1. Is effective, and 2. Is NOT harmful. If a coach has no oversight, who is making sure that they are not causing harm to clients?

    Also, not for nothing, modern day counselors practice from a variety of modalities. The description of the goals of "coaching" describes any what any good counselor skilled in CBT or DBT does. The difference is that those counselors use techniques which have been studied and peer reviewed. They monitor their treatment and outcomes. They have a licensing board overseeing them. They have education and experience.

    If you have experienced a loss you know that you don't need to have a "mental illness" to be in a very vulnerable place. If you want to go into this field in any capacity you have an ethical responsibility to provide safe and effective care.

  • Williams Daniel
    January 09, 2023

    Very good article, I have learned many useful and interesting things from the information you shared.


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