What is Life Coaching?

In its simplest form, life coaching is a relationship between two people, the coach and the client. So what does a life coach do? As a coach, you may also work with a group of people, as in the case of corporate coaching.

What is Life Coaching?

Ask any life coach and they will tell you this:

Coaching is a conversation like no other.

In its simplest form, coaching is a relationship between two people: the coach and the client. There may be instances when you, as a coach, may work with a group of people in a corporate setting. For the purposes of simplicity here, we’re going to consider coaching as an exchange of information and a relationship between two people.

A life coach's job—whether they're executive coaches, relationship coaches, business coaches, you name it—is to help their clients overcome fear and self-doubt.

They help clients set meaningful goals so they can create a life on their terms. As a life coach, you have a singular most important goal – to assist the client close the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

The key difference here is that a great life coach can help the client get from where they are to where they want to be much more rapidly.

You can do this in several ways:

  • By removing the client from the stories they tell themselves
  • By helping them disassociate from the reasons they 'can’t'
  • By helping them set and look forward to achieving new goals
  • By helping them to create empowering beliefs and attitudes

A coach is open to change and is ready to listen to the client—not just that, but is also genuinely curious and cares about the client's well-being. A coach usually wants to constantly improve and use all the resources available to help the client. A coach is always ready to take risks and stretch outside their comfort zone.

life coaching info-graphic

Let’s Break It Down: What Is a Life Coach?

A life coach is a professional who provides guidance and support to individuals in their personal development and helps them achieve their goals. Life coaching sessions are typically focused on personal growth and may involve discussing and setting goals, exploring values and beliefs, identifying obstacles and challenges, and developing strategies to overcome them.

During a life coaching session, the life coaching client may be asked to reflect on their lives and consider what changes they want to make in order to reach their desired level of personal growth or professional development. The life coach may then work with the client to create a plan of action, and provide support and accountability as the client takes steps towards achieving their goals.

Overall, a life coach serves as a partner in the personal growth journey, helping clients to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and create a fulfilling life!

A Little Life Coaching History

Until the late 1980s, there were some people who'd go to see either a psychotherapist or an analyst to help them overcome a specific problem such as giving up smoking or beating depression.

It was soon discovered that a lot of these 'patients' didn’t have a 'condition'—they just felt that their lives were a little off balance. Some therapists started to deal solely with these clients and this branched off into a new industry known as life coaching.

Last year it was estimated there are 100,000 life coaches around the world, with reports in 2018 that the US personal coaching industry alone was worth US$1 billion. The demand for coaches is ever-rising, and taking the industry online since COVID-19 means coaches can now have clients anywhere in the world.

As a life coach, your clients seek your help in areas such as goal-setting, getting better results, understanding what they really want, and aiming for a more fulfilled, richer life among other things.

But let's address the elephant in the room.

Does coaching really work?

Let me put it this way, if it didn't, there would be no coaches, and the industry would be shrinking instead of growing. Simple logic, yes?

What does a life coach do?

A life coach helps clients to achieve their personal and professional goals by providing guidance and support. They work to identify the obstacles that are holding people back and help develop a plan to overcome them. A life coach offers accountability and encouragement to keep clients motivated and focused on their goals. Life coaches are there to help people create a more fulfilling life, by providing support, guidance, and encouragement.

Is coaching the same as therapy, counselling and mentoring?

Most coaches get asked about the difference between life coaching and therapy a lot: “Isn’t coaching really like therapy or counselling, or even mentoring?”

The short answer? Nope.

Let me explain why. Patients with mental health conditions seeking therapy and/or counselling usually have a problem arising from a specific incident, condition or trauma, requiring guidance from licensed mental health professionals.

Life coaching clients usually have no experience with these. Many clients are successful, fulfilled people already and are now looking to raise the bar, experience even more success and become more effective at what they already do well.

A therapist or counsellor usually starts with the client’s past and mental health treatment to find the solution to an existing condition. A coach, on the other hand, draws a line in the sand and starts with the present and the future.

Mentoring has similarities to coaching but there is a fundamental difference. A mentor is experienced in a particular area and knows the answers. Think of a mentor as a teacher, a coach as a guide.

What is Life Coaching?

A Typical Coaching Session

There are no 'typical' coaching sessions because it is up to you and your client to create a positive and conducive atmosphere to grow. That means you help the client to achieve what they need to so that they can move forward, and the two of you can constantly learn and grow.

You can have your coaching session in a number of places, whether it be your client’s house, in an office, cafe or online. Remember your client is letting out information about themselves so make sure they feel that they are in a safe environment.

Within a session, a life coach may take on a number of roles in order to better suit their client’s needs. Some of these roles include being the facilitator who helps the client with their goals in a straightforward way allowing them to make their own decisions, or perhaps the Inspirer who helps the client stay on course.

What is Life Coaching?
What is Life Coaching?
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