If you do a Google search several articles will pop up with various explanations for the differences between therapy and life coaching. Considering I offer both therapy and personal life coaching services in Charlotte, NC, I'm frequently asked to differentiate between the two. Borrowing from one of my favorite explanations I can sum it up fairly succinctly; therapy focuses on the "why" and life coaching focuses on the "what now."
Those struggling with their past, feeling unable to shake off old patterns in order to move forward, are perfect candidates for therapy. I disagree with articles that claim therapy is based on a medical model that views the client as "sick." If you choose to pay for therapy with health insurance the therapist must give you a diagnosis, but that does not mean your therapist is viewing you as ill or diseased!
In contrast to therapy, coaching is perfect for those who can identify their personal or professional goals, but struggle to create and execute an action plan. In my opinion, life coaching is much more focused on personal growth, problem solving, and career expansion.
There is certainly and overlap between counseling and coaching as an individual comes to terms with the past and develops skills that allow them to focus on obtaining personal or professional goals. It is actually an honor to observe this transition.
No matter what an individual's motivation for contacting a therapist or life coach, the process should be an enlightening and challenging experience!