What is a Life Coach?
A life coach is a professional who works with people looking to make progress with personal or professional goals. They can provide advice and support that helps you to overcome the obstacles and challenges that you feel are standing in your way, with a personalised approach designed to suit your unique needs.
In essence, a life coach is there to help you attain greater fulfilment in life. Whether you’re in need of support in strengthening your relationships, progressing in your career, or managing problematic behaviours, they can deploy techniques to make the path towards personal development clearer. They aim to help you reach your goals in the most effective and efficient way.
Their role is generally broad by nature, but some life coaches will specialise in certain areas. These specialisms can include business advice, stress management, and relationship building. Life coaches don’t have to be qualified or accredited to provide their services – relying instead on having the right skill-set and a wealth of experience.
Life coaching is a growing sector. While there’s no firm data on just how many life coaches there are in the UK at present, an estimation from 2006 put the figure around 100,000. That’s a lot of coaches, which means there are a lot of people looking for coaching. So what exactly does a life coach do that means so many people are interested in their services?
What does a life coach do?
In a nutshell, a life coach is there to provide you with a fresh, external, unbiased perspective on problems that you’re facing. In practice, that typically involves:
- Building an understanding of your life situation, and what specific challenges you’re facing
- Helping to identify and establish goals that you want to move towards, whether they’re personal or professional
- Sharing their insights on your challenges, providing new perspectives that you might not have considered
- Dispensing actionable advice that helps you reach your goals, often breaking this advice into easy-to-follow steps
- Helping you to make difficult decisions with the aim of bringing you closer to your goals
- Providing ongoing emotional and practical support as you take steps forward
You can think of a life coach as a catalyst for a better life. They act as a bridge between the situation you’re in now and the situation that you want to be in.
They typically offer their services in the format of a schedule of regular one-to-one sessions, carried out in-person or remotely. The first session will typically revolve around the life coach learning more about you and your goals, while subsequent sessions will be focused on talking through challenges and coming up with solutions.
The potential benefits of working with a life coach depend on what challenges you’re looking to overcome or what goals you want to achieve, but they can include:
- Better work-life balance management
- Improved communication and interpersonal skills
- Stronger, more productive, or better-balanced personal relationships
- Quicker professional or career development
- Better prioritisation abilities
Difference between a life coach and a therapist
On the surface of things, it might seem like life coaches perform a similar role to therapists or counsellors. However, there are some key differences that separate them.
The key differentiator is that therapists tend to focus on helping people deal with issues in their past, whether that’s facilitating emotional healing, addressing trauma, or dealing with the effects of mental health conditions.
Life coaches, on the other hand, are more focused on helping people take steps into the future. They will typically spend less time on assessing or analysing past events, and more on building practical plans to achieve specific goals.
Another way of looking at this distinction is that therapists are problem-focused, whereas life coaches are solution-focused. Therapists work to help people understand and process the problems they’re facing and where they come from. Life coaches work to help people implement solutions that take them forward in life.
Another key difference between the two sets of professionals is that many types of therapists, including cognitive behavioural therapists and psychotherapists, are required by law to be qualified and licensed to practice. They also have to stick to established ethical codes of practice. Life coaches, on the contrary, are unregulated in the UK.
That’s not to say there’s no overlap, though. Some life coaches will stray vaguely into the realm of a therapist, and vice versa, depending on the situation the person they’re working with is in.
Who uses life coaches?
There are plenty of different reasons you may consider working with a life coach, ranging from personal to professional. They include:
- Feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction with life
- Struggling to take positive steps forward in your career
- Being overwhelmed with your responsibilities in life
- Lack of fulfilment in your social or personal life
- Facing challenges in your personal or romantic relationships
- Finding it difficult to set or stick to goals
People from all walks of life make use of life coaching services, now more than ever. If you’re looking for a life coach that can help you to make sense of your goals and give you the support you need to reach them more easily, search for life coaches near you with My Health Assistant.