Archives for therapy

The Differences Between Therapists, Coaches, and Consultants—and How to Know Which One You Need

I feel like coaching is starting to lose a lot of its stigma and the people getting results are inspiring many others to seek it out. Perhaps another reason many more are seeking coaching is that conventional mental health treatments are not widely available. Many complain about not-so-patient-friendly enrollment processes and months-long waitlists.

Is a coach a good alternative to a therapist or psychiatrist? What kind of coach should you engage? How do you qualify them as someone who will actually help and definitely not hurt you?

Consider one of these if there is any area of your life where you have not been able to get the results you want on your own, or if you just don’t want to do it alone or want to be able to do it right from the get-go.

If you suspect you suffer from a mental illness and have not been diagnosed, know that an unlicensed coach cannot diagnose you. A licensed therapist must follow regulated procedures in order to do this. If you need or want medication, you will need to see a psychiatrist. Do not offboard yourself from any medications or adjust your dosage without your doctor’s approval and guidance because there are often withdrawal side effects. Understand and abide by any potential interactions. Read all materials made available to you on your medications. Do your own research on these, as well.

Some coaches offer “tough love” and “hard truth.” I had a coach who referred to herself as the “Velvet Hammer.” She was, in fact, my first coach and the coach who helped me get started on my own coaching path. She set expectations from our first consultation on how it will look for her to show me my blind spots—with caring candor. Hers was not an authoritative way, but some can be militaristic and intolerable of excuses. In all therapy, coaching, and consulting relationships, you are expected to be an active participant and partner. You won’t get back what you don’t put in. And, some people prefer and need a very no-nonsense, straightforward, highly structured, black and white, inflexible approach. For the most part, however, our brains don’t thrive in transformation under those conditions.

Coaches traditionally focus on the practical steps to transformation. Therapists traditionally focus on how your feelings and past experiences inhibit you. Many are somewhere in between, and a lot of coaching training focuses on beliefs and behavior patterns—the connection of which are often blind spots for people.

In my personal experience, I found therapy to be enlightening and validating. I learned some coping mechanisms, yet still felt victimized versus empowered, and I felt there was no endpoint.

Coaching, on the other hand, was future-focused and finite; the goal was to help me be self-reliant in executing new skills, disrupting beliefs and patterns of behavior that didn’t serve me, and replacing them with those that did until they were habits.

Not all coaching programs focus on habits. There are various studies on habits that purport varying amounts of time necessary to form a new habit, but it really varies from individual to individual. Know yourself. How long does it take you to form a new habit? There are specific techniques that can accelerate habit adoption, such as NLP and hypnosis. Find someone trained and certified in these methods if you want faster results.

There are limitless specialties and niches in coaching. I find it helps when my coach understands my particular challenges, like being a parent to an ADHD child. I have had coaches tell me this is just my excuse, and rapport was instantly and permanently broken, rendering any further coaching ineffective and obsolete. Coaches who invalidate your experiences, feelings, and reality ultimately fail the coaching test.

If there is one focus area of your life you want to transform, it’s highly recommended that you seek out a specialist in this area, be it fitness, nutrition, parenting, relationships, career, and/or leadership.

If you are a leader or aspire to be a leader, leadership coaching usually includes focusing on your career development. Career development is a byproduct of the work you do to become a better leader and rise to the challenges thereof, which have evolved and expanded over the years, especially in the last two years. Even within career and leadership coaching, there are various niches, such as by industry or function, helping post-deployment veterans, helping the long-term unemployed or returning mothers.

My particular niche is conscious careering and conscious leadership. My clients prioritize people and the planet alongside sustainable profit and either want to better influence their organizations to do so as well, or want to contribute their talent to other companies already in alignment with these values. This could be in a completely new field or role, or the same field and role. My clients may or may not know what to pursue or where to look.

Like therapists, most professionally trained coaches ask questions and ask for permission before they share an observation or advice. Whereas a consultant gives advice, a coach guides you to come to your own conclusions about what to change and do by asking reflective questions. In doing so, they lower your resistance to change and instill confidence in your own abilities to figure things out.

However, many coaches are actually consultants and not coaches at all. They will assess the current situation, identify the root cause, prescribe changes, and leave you to implement them, perhaps with some expectations on challenges you may encounter and things you can do to overcome them.

As you start evaluating your options, ask yourself:

  • Do I have a fragile state of mind?
    • If so, seek more immediate help. Contact NAMI to find resources. I can tell you from personal experience that they are there to give you an immediate lifeline and refer you to the help you need. The process of finding a partner can be daunting and, I’ve found, at times damaging in and of itself. I gave up for three months after my quest failed for the fourth time to result in help.
  • What expectations do I have of the outcomes I want?

A common question asked by coaches is, what do you want coaching to do for you in X months? What do you expect will be different and better for having had coaching?

It’s possible you won’t be able to fully visualize all that is actually possible. Be aspirational. An ethical partner will tell you what is realistic to expect.

Ask these questions of your prospective partners:

  • Is this individualized or group?
    • If a group, how do you manage the psychological safety of the group?
    • Do you qualify participants, and how?
    • What rules exist and how do you enforce them?
    • What type of one on one support is offered?
    • Does the group interact and how do you manage personal conflicts? (Conflicts have occurred in nearly every group coaching program with over 10 people in which I’ve been a participant, though not involving me.)
  • What do you know about the mind/brain?
  • Are there things I am supposed to do in between sessions and how much time is required?
  • How will you hold me accountable?

Referrals are great, but make sure you ultimately choose a partner who can fulfill your specific needs. If you wind up finding someone outside of your network, check reviews and LinkedIn recommendations. Consider reaching out to the individuals who provided LinkedIn recommendations to ask questions tailored to your needs.

Is Epic Careering the right career alignment partner for you?

Our unique holistic approach integrates life coaching, neuroscience, organizational psychology, time management, habit management, personal/executive branding, a blend of career coaching and consulting, and leadership coaching. That’s a lot, and it’s because I constantly invest in identifying and training in new breakthroughs as they are proven.

Schedule a free consultation to see if we fit your needs.

Which Way The Wind Blows

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music GroupWhich Way The Wind Blows · Peter FramptonFrampton’s Camel℗ An A&M Records Release; ℗ 1973 UMG Recordings, Inc.Rel…

Karen Huller, CEO of Epic Careering, is the co-founder of The Consciousness Conference (ConCon) and the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op community on LinkedIn. She is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a conscious career and leadership development firm specializing in executive branding, talent-values alignment, and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of Mrs. Huller’s 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

Mrs. Huller was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.

She serves on the board for the Upper Merion Community Center, which she helped establish, and is an advisor to Florida International University for their Women in Leadership program. For her service as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. Mrs. Huller has also been the lead singer for Harpers Ferry, a rock cover band, for 20 years. She lives in King of Prussia, PA with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

Is a Prevalent Thought Creating an American Epidemic?

The ultimate source of our happiness by BK of Flickr

The ultimate source of our happiness by BK of Flickr


In a MindValley podcast Marisa Peer, once touted as Britain’s best therapist, talked about the prevalence of the thought, “I am not enough.” She discussed its limiting impact on people worldwide. Ms. Peer called it the biggest disease affecting humanity and attributed it not just to unhappiness, but illness. The way she presented this recurring, primarily subconscious thought pattern, she made it sound as if it has reached epidemic proportions.

I wonder if there is a correlation between this prevalent paradigm and an epidemic that drives me to reach as many people as possible with solutions for their career. Though it seems like in previous years discontentment has inched down slightly, Gallup polls still maintain that nearly 70% of Americans are disengaged in their job. This disengagement costs US companies $350 billion per year, according to McLean and Company. I have seen some estimates at $550 billion. I do not know which number is right, but both substantiates an epidemic in my mind and begs the questions, “Why?” and “How do we fix it?”

Companies are not acknowledging this problem. Nor are they harnessing what we know about the brain and human performance optimization to hire appropriately and, once hired, help employees achieve utmost performance.

Workers are operating under an outdated paradigm that dictates work is not supposed to be enjoyable; it is merely what must be done.

People are in the wrong jobs; they either they never discovered their calling, were discouraged from pursuing it, or decided it was unobtainable because they are not enough.

If you consider yourself among the 70% of the disengaged, do you recognize that the underlying belief that you are not enough may have played a part? Then according to Ms. Peer, there are nine steps to mastermind your life and reverse the impact that this belief has had.


  1. Know you are enough.
  2. Praise yourself.
  3. Remove destructive criticism.
  4. Mindfully command yourself because your brain does exactly what you think.
  5. Be specific about the rewards you want because your brain moves you away from pain and toward pleasure.
  6. Be purposeful with the pictures and words in your head because they determine your thoughts.
  7. Do what you hate to do to get what you want.
  8. Do not take “no” for an answer.
  9. Take action every day.


If I had to boil down her advice to one practical step that has proven to be effective with her patients, herself and her daughter, it is to wake up every morning telling yourself that you are enough. Write it down and keep it visible so that you will see it multiple times throughout the day. Then reaffirm that you are enough at night before you go to bed.


As for the other possible causes of the disengagement epidemic, I will save them for future posts. In the meantime, I welcome your comments.

Are there other causes that you see that I have not mentioned? What solutions do you propose?


Dedicated to my dad because today is his birthday, and I recently learned he loves the Carpenters.

My review: Therapy vs. coaching

Rays by Bill Gracey

Among my many trusted partners are various other types of coaches (life, divorce, executive, performance, sales, communication, financial, image, etc.) Also among my partners are therapists (psychologists, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists) and also some who are both.  My services are procedural and motivational, and I know where my capabilities end. In my 10+ years in the employment industry, I have been presented with many a transition challenge, and I have NOT been able to help my clients overcome them all. I thought in the beginning that I could and I learned the hard way that I cannot provide a panacea.

In my second year in business I had a client who was, unbeknownst to him or me, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) after surviving Katrina. In my usual client intake process I identify what the scope of the challenges are that my client is likely going to encounter in achieving their transition goals, so that I can be their strategist to overcome them. This particular client kept getting on and off board with the plan that he approved from the beginning. I was so eager to see him redeem his career and land some place where he could contribute his amazing leadership capabilities. It was frustrating to see him floundering. I really expected him to land within 4 months, but his transition dragged on and on. From my point-of-view, he was being difficult and stubborn. I started to question whether career coaching was my true path.

One day, he shared with me what he had discovered about his psychological condition. It all made so much more sense, and I felt guilty, as though I should have realized it. He seemed to be a confident, competent, motivated, inspiring person; I assumed he had everything he needed to succeed in a career transition. What I didn’t recognize then, that I am keenly aware of now, is that he needed therapy. After he shared with me how bad I made him feel when he was doubting his future, I recognized that I needed coaching.

If there are psychological anomalies, trauma, anxiety, depression, dependencies, etc. they will surface and become and obstacle when you are faced with difficult feats. We all know life is full of those. Not many get the help they need with this because they may not recognize how these conditions interfere with their lives. They have a cost. It usually isn’t until that cost becomes so big that it cannot be ignored that people get help. Therapy is the first defense against the costs that these conditions can have. You will want someone degreed, licensed, and experienced with your particular condition to help you grasp the reality of it. They will help you get to a place where you can accept your feelings, your reactions, and your thoughts. They will help you accept yourself. This is where I feel therapy stops and coaching has to come in.

Being able to accept yourself, to have validation, is a great gift. After achieving this most people feel invincible, unstoppable, larger than life…and then life proves otherwise. Being able to recognize your intrusive or detrimental thought patterns is one thing, but it is not enough to help you get different results in life. You have to consciously change your subconscious thought patterns in order to see real change in your life. That is where coaching comes in.

When you want to be more effective in your life in achieving your goals, turn to coaching. Coaching provides you with structure around generating the self-discipline necessary to create change. Your coach should use various techniques, be they proprietary or well-established, that have been tested to be successful in creating change. The best approaches are those based on recent advances and scientific discoveries on brain behavior. There are new discoveries every day. I keep track of these discoveries on this site:

Just as therapists are required to be in therapy, I believe that coaches should be required to be in coaching. Since my first experience in coaching as a coach in 2007, which was with Landmark Education, a very accelerated program taking place over a weekend, it was abundantly clear to me that my clients will benefit immensely from my personal growth. I reinvented myself and became aware of my own self-descructive thought patterns. Still, I continue to uncover more and more of these patterns as I peel away the surfaces of defense mechanisms, self-doubts, and inaccurate conclusions that I came to and meanings that I ascribed to events in my life which have continually sabotaged my progress and success.

Coaching has made me more compassionate, more intuitive, more connected and more in tune with people, their feelings and their experience of who I am. I still have blind spots. I still may fall into old patterns, especially with the people I am closest to, as it is harder to escape who I came to know myself as with them. However, in an ongoing setting of coaching, I will continue to become aware of those blind spots and have support and guidance in confronting the impact that those blind spots have had on others. Coaching will help me generate self-discipline in the conscious activities that will alter the subconscious patterns around those blind spots. It is not just about accountability; it is about staying in the program.

When I was experiencing post-partum depression, I needed someone to point it out to me. That person was my mom. She made me promise her that I would talk to someone and I did. It helped immensely, and in 6 weeks I was feeling more like myself. This was therapy and it was most appropriate for the clinical symptoms that I was having.

When I recognize that I am stopped or stuck in achieving my goals, be they personal or professional, I turn to coaching.

The clinical conditions have to be dealt with before coaching can be effective. You should make your coach aware of any formal diagnoses or any suspicions that you have about a psychological condition prior to investing in their services.

If you suspect that you could benefit from either therapy or coaching, please contact me and I would be happy to refer you to a trusted partner (if my services aren’t adequate), many of whom I have personally worked with to achieve my own goals.


For a follow-up blog post, I will cover how to budget for and prioritize coaching, as I know many of us have goals in various realms of our lives for which we could benefit from coaching, but most of us can’t afford the time or money to seek out coaching in all of those realms concurrently.