What is A Life Coach?
A life coach is a professional who specializes in helping others make behavior changes. These professionals help with a wide variety of issues from relationship problems to career changes. Life coaches are professionally-trained to help you reach your full potential. They help motivate and keep you accountable. A life coach can help you identify and get past roadblocks that keep you from achieving your goals.
Who Can Benefit From A Life Coach?
Life coaches are often used to help professional athletes, students, and CEOs reach their goals. But, life coaches can help anyone.
What Is The Difference Between A Life Coach And A Therapist?
Both life coaches and therapists can help you cope with life’s problems. The difference between a life coach and a therapist is education and training requirements. Although the requirements vary from state to state, therapists must meet certain educational requirements to be eligible for licensure. In most cases, the minimum educational credential to become a therapist is a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or a related area. Some states require post-master degree education, as well.1
Unlike mental health counseling, life coaching is an unregulated industry. This means that there are no educational requirements to become a life coach. Anyone can use the title “life coach.” This does not mean that life coaches are not qualified to help you with reaching your goals.
Both of these professionals can help you make changes in your life. So, how do you know which one to choose?2
Mental health therapists are specially trained to diagnose and treat serious issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. So, if you have a mental health diagnosis or suspect that you might, then it is best to see a therapist who has the proper education and training needed to help you.
Life coaches do not do psychotherapy. They can’t diagnose or treat mental health conditions. Therefore, they should not be used as a substitute for a trained therapist.
A life coach can be a very good alternative to a therapist if you:
- Want to improve your health and fitness levels.
- Are struggling with a major life decision, such as a move or career change.
- Have a lot of stress and can’t seem to shake it.
- Need help getting past fears that keep you from reaching your potential.
- Are not satisfied with your personal relationships.
- Need help building your confidence or self-esteem.
- Feel stuck in life and want help getting unstuck.
- Need help getting organized.
- Want to improve your follow-through and motivation.
- Want to achieve a better career-life balance.
- Need help prioritizing certain areas of your life.
- Want to find your purpose in life.
- Want to practice better self-care and self-love.
- Want to be more successful in your life or career.
Methods Typically Used in Therapy for Life Coaching
Life coaches use a variety of techniques or methods to help you reach your goals. Here are a few of the more common ones:
- Self-assessments and personality questionnaires. Life coaches use lots of different questionnaires and tools that help you identify your goals and skills.
- Homework assignments – Many life coaches assign homework that you will complete between sessions. These assignments are designed to help support your growth and potential.
- Support and guidance – Your life coach will offer support and guidance as you work towards your goals.
- Positive affirmations – These can help you restructure negative thought patterns to improve self-esteem and confidence. They can also help you reduce self-sabotaging thoughts, like “I’m never going to be able to get the promotion. I’m just not smart enough.” An example of a positive affirmation is repeating “I will give a great presentation today. I am well-prepared and smart.”
- Meditation practices – Meditation practices are commonly used in life coaching — and in therapy too. Some of the most common forms included guided meditation, where you are walked through relaxation exercises, and mindfulness meditation, which is a form of meditation that teaches you to focus on your inner experiences.
Therapists also use many of the above techniques, as well. Homework assignments and guided meditation are both techniques that are often used by therapists who do cognitive behavioral therapy.
What To Look For In A Life Coach
Since there is no governing body or licensure required to be a life coach In the United States, it is in your best interest to carefully check out the credentials and background of any that you might be considering. Here are some questions to ask when looking for a life coach:
- What kind of education and training do you have? Look for life coaches who are certified through the International Coach Federation (ICF). They offer three types of certifications for life coaches. The minimum requirement to be certified through ICF is 60 hours of training and 100 hours of coaching experience.3
- Do you have references? A life coach should be able to provide you with references from former clients.
In order to motivate others, a life coach should possess certain skills, such as:
- Great listening and communication skills. These two skills are essential for any life coach.
- A positive attitude. You want someone who is positive and upbeat in order to inspire you to reach your dreams.
- Non-judgemental. Good life coaches are non-judgemental. They understand that everyone has different needs and goals.
- Motivating. Many people choose to work with a life coach because they have a hard time staying motivated and following through. Choose a life coach who you find motivating.
- Honest and trustworthy. A life coach should have a high level of professional integrity and honesty.
Life Coaching Methods
There are many different types of life coaching. Some life coaches prefer to meet with clients in person while others use Skype or other video-chatting platforms. There is no right or wrong way to conduct life coaching sessions. Choose the method that works best for you.
How To Find A Life Coach
A life coach can help you back on track and begin living the life of your dreams. Search TherapyTribe to find a Life Coach or Therapist near you.
- HuffPost. (2015). So You Want to Be a Counselor/Therapist? Let Me Tell You the Different Ways. Retrieved June 15th, 2019 from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/post_b_6865002.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017). You’re a what? Life coach. Retrieved June 15th, 2019 from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/youre-a-what/life-coach.htm.
- International Coach Federation. (2019). ICF Credential. Retrieved June 15th, 2019 from https://coachfederation.org/icf-credential.