Psychologist or coach? Two leading figures for your mental well-being

31 Aug ‘22
4 min
Editorial Board OpenUp
Gecontroleerd door dietician Judith Klenter
We all need a helping hand from time to time. Are you looking for educational support? Do you have a fitness goal? You probably look for tutors and trainers. But do you know who to turn to for mental health care? A psychologist or a coach?


Judith Klenter (psychologist at OpenUp) and Élodie Ley (self-help and leadership coach for individuals and companies – Eloflow) will tell you more about this.


Mindsets are changing


In 2022, the facts speak for themselves: mental health is in the spotlight more than ever. Companies are starting to understand its importance and are refocusing their goals on human capital. 


Coaches have been booming for quite some time. In fact, the business world coined the term “coaching” in the 1980s. But what exactly is coaching? “It’s support based on the future”, answers Élodie. “We select a precise goal, and we support the person in reaching it. We establish a dialogue, and we set up an actionable plan.”


Debunking the taboos


Now, let’s tackle the elephant in the room: seeing a psychologist is often misunderstood. No, there is nothing wrong with you.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. “We talk about healing, treating”, explains Elodie. “The psychologist is more about listening; the patient gets a relief through speech.”


When talking about seeing a psychologist, people get more judgmental. However, psychology is not limited to analytical treatment. Not even close. 


“A psychologist may have clients with psychopathology, but not all of them have serious problems”, says Judith. “Someone may see a psychologist to work on sleep disorders, self-confidence, lifestyle or job performance.”


Your mental well-being can improve enormously when you tackle these daily challenges with professional help. At OpenUp, you get online video consultations or chat with your psychologist, who helps you tackle your challenges in three sessions – or more if necessary. Or to prevent these challenges, because prevention is better than cure.


Did you know that as an organisation you can give your employees unlimited access to our psychologists, to supervised group sessions and to countless online self-help modules? Anonymous and easily accessible. Read more about OpenUp for businesses on this page.


More clarity to help you make a choice


At this point, having additional questions is completely normal. The first appointment is sometimes a bit confusing. After all, if you’re going to open a Pandora’s box, you might as well be upfront to better communicate your needs.

“You have to try to understand the person”, explains Elodie, “but above all see if there is a connection and if we are made to work together.”


Keeping an open mind is crucial because old clichés are hard to break: a person lying down on a couch, talking about their childhood, and a psychologist taking notes without saying a word. The “old school” psychology is gone for good, and that’s great! We’re talking about a true couch revolution for a profession that is evolving at record speed.


“At OpenUp, we mainly use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)”, Judith underlines. “We also offer solution-focused brief therapy, mindfulness, as well as elements of cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology.”


Two methods to help you become the best version of yourself


As you can see, coaches and psychologists work towards the same goal: to help people reach their full potential, while aiming for greater autonomy and empowerment.


“In coaching, we only work towards well-being”, says Élodie. The past no longer exists. The situation that caused your classmates to make fun of you allows the coach to focus on the “how” of the trauma, such as the fear of talking in public or of reaching out to others.


Psychologists support this approach by adding the “why”, because “we also try to understand the root cause of the malaise,” adds Judith. A patient will revisit the relevant situation to understand, integrate, and overcome it.


Between coach and client, psychologist and patient, nothing is possible without an alliance. In fact, it’s a relationship between an individual who aims to change, progress, and blossom, and another who, without serving as a compass, supports them in their search for solutions.


Same mission, same passion


One thing is certain: these two disciplines have fed off each other tremendously over the past two decades. On the one hand, brief therapies that focus on the “how” (solution) rather than the “why” (cause) have emerged within psychology. On the other hand, coaching has entered the field of mental health, which nowadays is no longer limited to psychological illnesses.


Élodie admits that, sometimes, it is also a matter of knowing one’s limits. “I have a holistic approach, so I might refer people to a psychologist or a therapist because that is no longer my role. Some people I support also see a psychologist at the same time.”


Working hand-in-hand makes sense when it comes to combining the best of both worlds. This will allow you to undertake a journey into your psyche to understand your history, live better in the present moment and develop your full potential.


At OpenUp, we help you find the support you need to take care of your mental well-being. Start a program on the topic of your choice or make an appointment with one of our psychologists. Judith is looking forward to meeting you.


Or, if you are an employer or HR professional and want to know how you can support the mental health of your employees, see how we can help you here. Hundreds of companies across Europe have gone before you.