Whether you’re an aspiring coach looking to break into the field or an experienced professional seeking to specialize in mental health coaching, the proper certifications, training, and courses can make all the difference. With the growing demand for mental health services, now is the perfect time to pursue a career in mental health coaching and make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

This article will guide you through becoming a mental health coach, including the top certifications, training, and courses to consider.

What Is a Mental Health Coach?

A mental health coach is a professional trained to provide support and guidance to promote mental resilience and overall well-being. They help clients gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns to reach specific goals. Mental health coaches assist clients in recognizing their challenges and strengths while providing accountability toward actionable steps for improvement.

Mental health coaches can be trained in specific mental health techniques or may have an educational background in psychology or counseling.

Mental Health Coach Versus Life Coach

A mental health coach is a professional trained to provide support and guidance to promote their clients’ resilience and overall mental well-being. Clients working with mental health coaches expect to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns to reach specific goals. Mental health coaches can either be trained in specific mental health techniques or may have an educational background in psychology or counseling.

Life coaches are similar to mental health coaches, but instead of focusing on just the mind, they look to improve multiple aspects of their client’s life. A background in psychology or counseling is optional in life coaching. Life coaches emerge from a variety of backgrounds, and that’s what adds to their expertise.

Mental health coaches combine elements of both therapist and coaching strategies to create a practical approach to achieving mental wellness.

mental health coaches help clients thrive in the face of the normal stressors of life

Limitations for Life and Mental Health Coaches Versus Therapists

The main difference between life coaches or mental health coaches, and therapists is the help they can legally provide.

Can a life coach diagnose illnesses?

Licensed therapists and psychologists diagnose mental illnesses, but coaches do not. Legally, coaches do not have the training or credentials required to officially identify a disorder.

Can life coaches treat mental illness?

While life coaches and mental health coaches talk with clients in a way that’s similar to what therapists do, coaches cannot legally provide medical advice, treat mental health disorders, or bill health insurance. This is why most coaches include a disclaimer on their websites and in their podcasts that any information they provide is not to be construed as medical advice. It’s illegal to practice medicine without a license in all 50 states of America, and coaches make it clear to their clients that while they can help improve mental health, they are not treating mental illnesses. 

Do life coaches follow HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, mandates protections around patient health information, requiring that a patient consent to disclosure. Because coaches are not healthcare providers, they are not required to adhere to HIPAA standards. Of course, professional mental health coaches apply client confidentiality in how they manage sensitive information.  

What is the difference between a mental health coach and a therapist?

Other differences between mental health coaches and therapists include the time spent with clients and the focus on recovery. Coaches work with clients for short periods, while therapists can work with clients for longer stretches. Often therapists are focused on the past and present, while coaches are future-oriented to solve a client’s problem.

venn diagram comparing mental health coaches to therapists

Can mental health coaches help with anxiety?

Yes, mental health coaches can help clients deal with their anxiety. But coaches cannot legally diagnose or treat mental health disorders. So if a client has clinical anxiety or clinical depression, that client is best served by a fully trained therapist or psychologist. Mental health coaches can help people deal with run-of-the-mill, everyday worries, stress, and upsetting thoughts.  

Do You Need a Certification or Degree to Become a Mental Health Coach?

Coaching is an unregulated industry, so there are no formal requirements for becoming a mental health coach. You can call yourself a coach and practice as one without a college degree and without any specific certification. However, gaining certification as a mental health coach gives you more credibility with potential clients and helps coaches to build confidence with more advanced coaching techniques. 

Being certified as a mental health coach shows that you’re dedicated. It shows that you’ve taken the time to acquire the training and knowledge of best practices in the mental healthcare field so you can help your clients achieve radical transformation.

Overview of the Top Certifications, Training, and Courses for Becoming a Mental Health Coach

Mental health coaching certifications are available through multiple organizations. Each organization has its own set of criteria for accreditation, ranging from education requirements and continuing education credits to completing supervised coaching hours required for independent practice.

Top Mental Health Coach Training Programs

Obtaining an institute’s certification requires intensive training courses that typically involve attending lectures, workshops, and seminars. Some also involve supervised coaching sessions, written assignments, and exit exams. Most programs have completion times between six months to one year or longer, depending on the certifying institute’s requirements.

International Association of Wellness Professionals (IAWP)

Screenshot of the International Association of Wellness Professionals website homepage

The International Association of Wellness Professionals provides wellness certifications that focus on the body-mind connection to address wellness needs in individuals and organizations. There is more than one program to choose from, but each program’s details vary and are discussed on an informational call. Cost: Varies

International Coaching Federation (ICF)

Screenshot of the International Coaching Federation website homepage

As the leading professional organization for life and mental health coaches, the International Coaching Federation provides accreditation for coaching professionals looking to advance their practice. The ICF provides three learning tracks and requires all coaches to complete a certain number of coaching experience hours before receiving accreditation. Cost: $100-$600

Aventis Wellness

Screenshot of the Aventis Wellness website homepage

Aventis Wellness provides a comprehensive mental wellness coach program that teaches participants various psychological interventions and skills to help those struggling with anxiety and depression. The program is a two-day virtual training that covers a range of skills like mental wellbeing advocacy, recovery design, and collaboration with other mental health practitioners to assist with long-term treatment for your clients. Cost: $900

Other Mental Health Coaching Professional Development Opportunities

In addition to mental health coaching certification programs, there are also professional development opportunities available such as:

  • Supervision and mentoring programs
  • Conferences and workshops
  • Webinars, podcasts, videos, and online courses 

These developmental avenues allow for further development in technical skills like psychological assessment techniques, psychotherapy models and techniques; mindfulness-based therapies; cognitive behavioral approaches; psychoeducation; self-care practices; and stress management.

Is Mental Health Coaching the Right Niche for You?

Before delving too deeply into becoming a mental health coach, you may want to step back and first confirm that this is the perfect niche for you. Use the free coaching niche worksheet to analyze your best fit. As a VIP member, you’ll also find exclusive interviews about finding and confirming a niche in the resource library.

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Written by The Coach Factory Team

We're a team of coaching enthusiasts who hire and work with coaches. Members of our team run businesses in the coaching industry or provide services that support coaches, and several of us are coaches ourselves.

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