What is a Life Coach?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
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Life coaching has become one of the most sought-after professions of the last decade. A mix of therapy and consulting, it also draws techniques from sociology, career counseling, and management training. This service is seen as an ongoing, non-judgmental partnership rather than as a professional and client relationship.

A life coach works one-on-one with a client to support personal growth, behavior modification, and goal-setting. Based on the premise that most people can achieve their goals if properly guided, a life coach will act as a mentor, assisting the client in the process of taking the life-improving actions necessary to take control of the future. The coach does not focus on reviewing past events or analyzing previous failures. Through a series of attainable steps, a life coach helps clients overcome fears and achieve balance in both their personal and professional life.

Because the coaching process is based on trust, it's important to choose a coach you feel comfortable with. Sometimes it's necessary to try a few professionals before you find the perfect match. A life coach cannot do anything for a client unless the client is ready to step into action. He or she is a sounding board for ideas, but the final work is up to the client. Coaching is also not appropriate if the client is depressed or in need of a professional therapist.


No degree or formal training is required to become a life coach. Both psychologists and non-credentialed practitioners can work as life coaches. A number of training programs are available for people wishing to become a personal coach, but because no official regulatory standards exist, it's difficult to differentiate the good from the bad. The newly-formed International Coach Federation is now working to regulate the coaching industry by providing a set of standards and a series of credentialing levels.

Hiring a life coach is not cheap. The average professional charges 165 US dollars (USD) for a 45-minute face-to-face session, with a minimum commitment of five sessions required. Many coaches now offer online or over-the phone coaching, which tends to be cheaper. Another way to save money is to buy a bundle of coaching sessions at once.


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Post 9

Life coaching is the patent medicine of mental health! No standardized education, training, or license? Quack, quack! If you're going to pay $165 per session, you might as well go to a licensed psychologist or counselor who is actually trained in behavior modification using empirically supported methods.

Post 8

I think this article has some great points and sums up a lot of critical points. Life coaches are about working with people in the present, who want to build on their future without the need to go into the past or 'whys'. Loved your take on this. Thanks!

Post 6

As a life coach, I always appreciated various perspectives on the profession. Life coaching is like any other endeavor we set out to accomplish, the results are proportionate to the effort put forth. That, of course, assumes that the client is working with a life coach whose capabilities are such that they can guide their clients successfully through the process.

Post 5

Some advice for galen84basc. uncovering the patterns that lead you to your conclusions will certainly help you see value in a life coach.

How do you know the advice of life coaches is bad? What have you done that didn't work? What leads you to the conclusion that life coaches want to mold you into their theory on life? Something to think about.

Post 4

I have taken a few of those online life coach classes, but I never found them to be too helpful. Maybe it's different when you actually meet with a life coach; I don't know, but when I read those sites, all they seem to do is list off things you should do, or shouldn't do.

And oftentimes they're even contradictory! Every site seems to suscribe to it's own little theory about life, and then tries to give steps for people who want to mold themselves into that life.

While sometimes the advice is very valuable, I think that a lot of times you have to wade through a ton of inapplicable or simply bad advice to get to the good stuff.

What about you guys, have you had similar experiences with online life coach courses? And is meeting with a real certified life coach any different?

Post 3

Can you tell me more about getting life coach certification? I have always wanted to work as a Christian life coach, but I'm finding it a little bit hard to get started, since there is not much of a life coaching business or industry in my area.

I have taken several online life coach courses, but I know to provide the care and help that people really need I will need more training.

Can anyone who is a certified life coach tell me how to get started on this, or what steps I should be taking?


Post 2

It always surprises me how much I learn at the different times in my life when I've consulted a life coach (I have been with a life coach three times in my life for about six months each time).

The thing that I really like best about the whole concept of life coaching is how it's so empowering. Whereas I find that with straight therapy, many people fall into this dependent relationship in which they look to the therapist for all their answers, with life coaching, the life coach won't give you the answers -- even if you want them to.

I remember the first time I partnered with a holistic life coach, I was in a severely codependent

relationship with a boyfriend, and although I knew that something was wrong about the relationship, I just didn't know what to do.

Well, when I first went to the life coach, I expected him to start fulfilling that role again in my life, and when he didn't I was confused, and even angry.

Once I finally realized what was going on though, I had a major breakthrough, and made a lot of progress in my life and happiness. It really was so empowering -- I would recommend life coaching to anybody who just wants to see a little change.

Post 1

Great overview WiseGeek. Life coaching can be a valuable part of any person's search for who they are and what they want to do in life. It isn't psychology or mental health so it actually works well for people already in therapy as an additional support.

I would recommend that people interview several life coaches before they decide to work with one. It's also OK to switch coaches if you find they are not helping you.

The idea of life coaching is to build a relationship with a supportive professional who will help you move forward.

As a life coach, it's my job to not do the work for you but, rather, do everything possible so that you can accomplish your goals and dreams on your own.

Life coaching is a good option for high functioning individuals who wish to overcome a challenge or achieve more success.

Take care, Guy F., Insightful Life Coach

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