With the advent of technology keeping us “connected”, pandemics keeping us locked down and socially distanced, and our ingrained hopes that our significant others will be giving and passionate lovers, best friends, confidants, cheerleaders, and therapists, the need for someone to coach us from our corner is becoming an idea growing in popularity.
The International Coaching Federation (IFC) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.1 And though unregulated, the industry is now grown to $3 Billion, the number of professional coaches growing more than 30% since 2015.2 Different than psychotherapy, it can act as a gateway into therapy for some, helping circumvent the lingering stigma around mental health treatment.
Life Coach vs. Therapist
There are 3 main differences between life coaches and psychotherapists. First, therapists can help treat and diagnose mental illnesses whereas life coaches may not.3 To be a therapist you must have a degree related to the field and be licensed in that state to provide therapy. This is not true of a life coach, although the IFC is the industry standard for coaching certification. And finally, a therapist is bound by ethical codes such as patient/doctor confidentiality, or HIPPA whereas a life coach may not.
Relatedly, a life coach should be sought in cases such as career, relationship, goal, fitness, or wellness improvements. A mental health professional, such as a therapist should be applicable to addressing mental health concerns such as mood, anxiety, addiction, or personality disorders.
A therapist may look at why the patterns of behavior are driving the outcome, while a coach is inclined to address the how in achieving an outcome.6 A therapist works with results top of mind and a coach works to become an expert in the client’s areas of struggle.
Why Consider a Life Coach
The support for the positive impact of life coaching can be found in a wide variety of research. This includes but is not limited to, Positive Psychology, Motivational Interviewing, Design Theory, Flow Theory, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy.4 Coaching appears to offer the following benefits, providing a “place” for growing and considering options, increased productivity and job satisfaction, goal attainment, strength awareness, and better use of strengths.
Life coaches are able to help address issues such as irritability, increased stress/anxiety, improving or changing habits, lack of fulfillment, and blocked creativity.
In more specific types of coaching, such as executive coaching, studies show an improvement in inter-personal skills, better work-life balance, better career planning, and increased confidence and self-awareness. In organizational coaching, the coachees reported day-to-day network improvement, increases retention of high-quality employees, and improved performance.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Life Coach?
Brian Tracy, the successful businessman, motivational speaker, and author, notes that several qualities make for a good life coach. The coach should have a positive attitude, be passionate, be a great listener, be non-opinionated or judgemental, inspire curiosity, communicate clearly, and be observant.5
It is a good idea to understand what qualifies the program or individual to be a life coach. There is no specific certification needed, and so qualifications vary. Also, there may be research that backs the techniques or models used by the coach.
The coach’s experience is an idea to consider. There are certain pros and cons that may come with experience (knowledge, complacency) as well as inexperience (passion, lack of knowledge). It may also be helpful to know the process of the coach. Ask yourself, is the process compatible with your needs and what you’re looking for? While certifications and accreditations are generally a sign of competence and quality, note that anyone can get a life-coaching certificate online for $69.7
Testimonials are another great way to validate the experience offered by a life coach.
And perhaps the most impactful thing to consider is how you feel during and about your interaction with the coach. The best experiences should provide a place where you can trust, feel open, and connect with the coach. In this case, you’d want to meet them in the medium in which the coaching would take place. For example, in person, on a zoom call etc. Preferably in the fashion in which coaching sessions would occur.
I have recently taken a course on coaching at the Flow Research Collective. To say the least, the course was paradigm-shifting and more beneficial than what was provided in the path to my MBA. I work with coaches who have helped me identify and move past obstacles and clarify what it is I’m really after. With that said, I’m a fan of life coaching.
Also, I believe that as meditation, self-care, and mental health awareness become more prevalent, the natural momentum is towards coaching as it is the application of those ideas in a structured fashion. I cannot (and I’m sure many of us) imagine bringing up a conversation with a significant other starting “I want to talk about my mindset…” or “I’m not clear on what the purpose of all this is…” And even if you do have this privilege, you can’t expect an answer that is unbiased in some way.
As we grow more and more isolated by the nature of our tech-connected, instantly-gratifying, socially concerned society, loneliness, lack of emotional connection, and lack of purpose are becoming all too common. And so comes the rise of life coaching. It makes sense in this way that many of us would employ a coach to help us think out, plan out, and remove obstacles in the structure of our lives and in the pursuit of fulfillment.
I have begun to create my own coaching curriculum designed to assist in providing clarity of purpose, peak performance, and increased well-being. Click Here For More Information. I’ve called it EMERGENCE, Your Life, Realized.
Thanks for reading…