I feel like there is a need to talk about what life coaching actually is because:
It can be confusing (based on the blank stares I often get when I say what I do) and it’s a relatively new (but growing!) industry.
There are a lot of people calling themselves a ‘coach’ without any training, qualifications, nor the life experience to do so, which is a bit worrying.
Firstly, I’ll talk about what it is not
It is not counselling. Counselling takes into account where people are in their lives (like life coaching) however, counselling supports someone to deal with unhelpful thoughts, behaviours and life patterns. Counselling often looks to the past to discover why someone is in their present situation. Life coaching only looks from someone’s present to their future.
It is not consulting. Consultants are hired for their expert advice and answers, and are able to tell people exactly what to do and when. Life coaching facilitates thought so people can find their own answers within themselves to move forward and create the life they want. It allows space for them to learn more about themselves at a deeper level.
It is not the same as mentoring, however similar. Coaching and mentoring may use the same skills and approach, however coaching will be contracted to a specific term (which can be extended), whereas mentoring is often a longer term relationship. Coaching does not include providing advice and is focused on the client’s own thinking, whereas mentoring will include some telling or offering advice.
It is not the same as sports coaching. Yes they both may challenge people, provide accountability and cheer people on, but in life coaching there is no winning or losing, nor is it competitive.
It’s not like hiring a best friend. Even though a strong bond is usually formed, a coach will hold a much more sophisticated role than a friend would. A coach will be direct, honest (with care) and have no agenda or bias, unlike friends who might be worried about hurting feelings or might prefer a certain outcome for their friend.
So what is it?
Life coaching draws upon techniques from psychology, sociology, social work, personal development and career development to assist people to create change, moving them from where they are to where they want to be, it assists people to think and behave differently, whilst consciously learning what is best for them and how they want to live their life.
The coaching relationship is made up of motivation, education, accountability and helping people to make the lasting change that improves their life. A life coach is non-critical and non-judgemental, and is wholly committed to the goals their clients want to achieve.
Coaching assists people to uncover what is truly important to them, their personal values, setting goals and creating a plan to move towards where they want to be. A coach reminds the client of their strengths and helps to develop positive feelings about themselves whilst giving valuable feedback.
Who can call themselves a coach?
Anyone! Scary right? The industry is not currently regulated. That’s why it’s important to check out who is coaching you. If someone is a business coach and clearly has many years of experience and a portfolio of successful businesses spanning over 10+ years, then I would say they are qualified. Or like me, someone may hold a certified qualification that shows they have undertaken extensive training (not a weekend course) and have completed a certain amount of hours coaching and have passed assessments.
It is not for me to judge who is a credible coach and who is not, it will be down to you. I would encourage you to choose a coach you resonate with, who will get you, along with someone you deem qualified and experienced enough. I believe coaches should offer a free chemistry call with no strings attached, as it is important that you form an instant connection for coaching to be really effective.
Lastly, I believe it’s better to choose a coach who has a niche, as they are likely to be more of an expert in their field and cater specifically to their audience, for example I focus on helping women through career change, although life coaching will always look at someones life as a whole.
Have any other questions about coaching? Feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.