Shroom News & Culture

WTF Is a Coach, Anyway?

With coaches entering every area from work force to psychedelics and personal development, we explore how coaching makes a difference in long term and short term goal setting, and how choosing the right kind of coach matters for success.

Min read
Cori Sue Morris
October 28, 2023

If you’ve been on Instagram, in a bookstore, or at a wellness networking event, you may have come across a new category of professionals: the coach. Online self-help and self-improvement gurus are building their brands, touting client success stories, and guiding others to be their best selves.

Similar to a sports coach as a kid, a coach is someone who is (usually) paid to guide you in a certain area of your life—professional, personal, health, or spiritual. There are all sorts of coaches, with specific niches—health coaches to help you lose weight, spiritual coaches to help you heal trauma, fundraising coaches to help you raise capital, and the oft-touted Instagram coach to help you make “1 million dollars in one year or less.”

Like any professional field—be it influencers, doctors, or lawyers—there are good coaches, and there are bad coaches.

Like most topics in 2023, any discussion on coaching requires a bit of nuance. As I write this, I hold a stark dichotomy of emotion toward coaching: I am simultaneously appalled by the horrifyingly cheesy Instagram coaches selling you a new life. Yet, I have also found incredible transformation, healing, and positive change in working with my coach. And, as the CEO of a company that provides microdosing coaching, I find myself at a unique place within the world of coaching and being coached.  

And, I should article is based entirely on my experience, research, and opinion in the coaching space. Let’s dive in.

So, Who Gets to be a Coach?

 Anyone can call themselves a coach, and if you've spent any time on Tik Tok you'll know this too well. 

Unlike a therapist, psychologist, or doctor, a coach may or may not have a degree or certification. There are about 100 institutes offering coaching programs, ranging from 3-4 months to two years. These schools are online, and are usually certified by the International Coaching Federation, the certifying body for coaches. Universities like Harvard and Stanford have also caught on to the coaching trend, and offer online certification, allowing “students” to tout the prestigious university without actually having a degree.

 In coaching programs, coaches learn how to hold space for others, provide accountability, set a code of ethics, and provide the right kind of support. 

That being said, many coaches do not have certification. Many have learned by doing, and now want to give back to others and find meaningful work helping others. Career coaches have often left long, successful corporate careers in favor of helping others. Many health coaches have overcome disordered eating or eating disorders and feel called to help others. 

 In the psychedelic field, microdosing and integration coaches have, frankly, done a lot of drugs, navigating the challenges of altered states of consciousness, and ideally have established protocols, codes of conduct, and ethics. Hopefully, they’ve also received training from reputable organizations like Beckley Academy and MAPS, among others.

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What Is The Difference Between a Coach and a Therapist?

First, let's talk about education and certification. Therapists, typically licensed mental health professionals, invest a significant amount of time in their education. They usually have a master's or doctoral degree in fields such as psychology, counseling, or social work, which translates to roughly six to eight years of post-secondary education. They also must complete extensive supervised training and internships before obtaining their license. This rigorous process ensures that therapists have a deep understanding of psychological principles and therapeutic techniques.

On the other hand, life coaches often follow a different path. While there are no specific educational requirements to become a life coach, many choose to pursue training programs and certifications that can range from a few months to a year in length. These programs provide a foundation in coaching techniques and tools but don't delve as deeply into clinical psychology or mental health issues as therapist training does. Certification for life coaches can come from various organizations, which may have differing standards, so it's essential to research a coach's credentials to ensure they align with your needs.

In summary, therapists invest more time and education in understanding the complexities of mental health and emotional well-being, while life coaches focus on helping individuals set and achieve goals, often with a shorter educational path. 

The choice between the two ultimately depends on your specific needs, goals, and the level of support and expertise you're seeking. 

For those with diagnosed mental health conditions, a therapist is recommended over a coach, or in addition to a coach. 

What is The Difference Between a Therapist, Psychiatrist, LCSW, and Coach?


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health and can prescribe medication for mental health conditions.

Degree: MD or DO (Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).

Certifying Body: Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Conditions Supported: Psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses.


Therapists are mental health professionals who provide talk-based therapies to address emotional and psychological issues.

Degree: Master's or doctoral degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field.

Certifying Body: Licensed by state boards or professional organizations like the American Psychological Association.

Conditions Supported: A wide range of emotional and psychological conditions, including mood disorders, trauma, relationship issues, and more.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers are trained to provide mental health support with a focus on the social and environmental factors affecting clients.

Degree: Master's degree in social work (MSW).

Certifying Body: Licensed by state boards and adhering to the standards set by the National Association of Social Workers.

Conditions Supported: Mental health issues related to family dynamics, social situations, and community factors, as well as individual psychological challenges.

Life Coach

Life coaches are professionals who help individuals set and achieve personal and professional goals, offering guidance and support.

Degree: No specific degree requirements, but some have backgrounds in psychology or counseling.

Certifying Body: Various organizations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), offer certifications.

Conditions Supported: Life coaches primarily focus on goal setting, personal development, and improving aspects of one's life, but they do not treat mental health conditions.

These distinctions help you understand the roles, educational backgrounds, certifying bodies, and the types of conditions each professional typically supports. The choice among these options depends on your specific needs and whether you require therapy or coaching for mental health concerns.

Why Would I Hire a Coach?

Coaches often come in at key pivotal points in one's life and can be a valuable support in driving change in one or more areas of your life.

Health coaches can help with meal plans, health guidance, support, and accountability in losing weight, eating healthier, or improving health. Within health coaching, ayurvedic coaches can coach you through cleanses, gut health challenges, and detoxes.

Business coaches can help work through challenging problems, like negotiating a fight with a cofounder, fundraising outside the capital, or negotiating a pay raise at work.

What Is a Microdosing Coach?

So, WTF is microdosing coaching? Well, if you're new to psychedelics, you probably have 3 gazillion questions. Microdosing is a process, and it can have profound outcomes. But, mushrooms are unlike any other substance—they open and amplify, rather than disassociate.

Microdosing coaches help you understand the benefits, risks, and processes associated with psychedelics. They can help you select the right dosage, protocol, processes, and ways to integrate and benefit from psychedelics. Microdosing is a subtle way to drive change–so it helps to have a coach to align goals, keep you accountable, and support you as things come up. Microdosing is a non-specific amplifier, so it will bring up emotions, limiting beliefs, and challenges. So, when things get gnarly (and they will get gnarly), you're going to need some support.

What Should I Look for In a Coach?

Hiring a coach is a personal decision—it’s all about alchemy (your relationship and energy), trust, and what your goals are. Utilizing a coach can help you develop tools to handle life, work, and any other area. When things get gnarly (and they will get gnarly), coaches know you're going to need some support.

Here are 5 questions to ask when hiring a coach.

  1. What are my goals with coaching?
  2. What areas do I need support— does this coach have expertise in those areas?
  3. How will I measure the return on investment from coaching?
  4. Do I  feel supported, heard, and safe in our meetings?
  5. Do we have chemistry: do I trust this person to support me and act in my best interest?

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Here are 10 questions to ask when interviewing a coach

  1. Can you provide references or testimonials from past clients? - Hearing from former clients can give you insight into the coach's effectiveness.
  2. What is the structure of your coaching sessions? - Understand the frequency and format of sessions, whether they are in-person, over the phone, or online.
  3. How do you set and track goals with your clients? - A good coach should have a structured process for goal setting and progress monitoring.
  4. What is your fee structure, and do you offer payment plans? - Clarify the cost of coaching sessions and any flexibility in payment arrangements.
  5. What is your availability? - Ensure their schedule aligns with yours and that they can accommodate your needs.
  6. How do you handle confidentiality and privacy? - Discuss the coach's approach to maintaining the privacy of your sessions and information.
  7. What is your cancellation and rescheduling policy? - Understand the terms for missed or rescheduled sessions.
  8. How do you handle challenging situations or conflicts in coaching? - Knowing how they address difficulties that may arise during your coaching relationship is important.
  9. What outcomes can I expect from coaching with you? - Get a sense of what results or changes you can realistically anticipate from working with the coach.
  10. Can you explain your coaching philosophy or values? - Understand the coach's guiding principles and values, as this can help determine if you share a common mindset.

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About the Author

Cori Sue Morris

Cori Sue is the founder & CEO of Retreat. She’s a recovering journalist and serial entrepreneur, having started, scaled and sold a media company, Bitches Who Brunch, and a marketing agency. She loves mushrooms, microdosing, empowered women, and helping others.

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