What does a Life Coach actually do?

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

—George Bernard Shaw


Having been in the coaching game for about fifteen years now and over a decade of that spent designing and heading professional coach training programs, the term life coach seems to get quite a range of reactions. Some immediately get it and might say, “I could do with some of that!” while at the other end of the spectrum the reactions are decidedly more cynical. In some circles life coach even seems to be a kind of catch-all slur for any kind of touchy-feely self-development type. Or even worse, a con artist.

Firstly, you might want to read some of my other posts on the importance of good training for coaches as there is a world of difference between many out there using the term coach or life coach. I’m only talking about certified, credentialed professionals.

While some of these coaching professionals will simply call themselves a coach, many do have particular areas they focus on, often called a niche, where they integrate professional coaching skills with special expertise and knowledge. Examples of niches are health or nutrition coaching, relationship coaching, spiritual coaching, ADHD coaching and many others including, of course, life coaching.

A life coaches remit is often pretty broad (basically everything that makes life awesome and fulfilling) but the simple headline is that life coaches help their clients live their lives in the most optimal and fulfilling way possible for them. Many of us find ourselves more led through life rather than choosing where we want to be and how we want to live. Sometimes we might just feel lost, even having no idea of what or who we want to be, simply knowing that how things are now is certainly not it.

Life coaches are trained to help others discover the answers to all these questions and more importantly to help them navigate a way to make that happen including negotiating the challenges and obstacles to success.

Why you need a well-trained coach is because professional coaches learn to be able to help their clients think differently, create their own solutions, to grow and develop themselves in ways that they’re fully equipped to keep growing even when the coaching finishes. Coaches won’t advise or tell you what to do. Instead they’re more a support and catalyst in a client’s change process, not the source of their answers. Particularly when it comes to life choices. No one is an expert in anyone else. While it’s highly likely that a great life coach will help with finding important learning and information resources that help growth and change, they should never tell a client what to do with that, advise or make decisions for them as every client is the expert in themselves.

Behaving that way disempowers a client and life coaches should always empower their client so that they’re more capable once the coaching completes not more reliant.

Beyond all that, how life coaches help the client to grow, develop and evolve is down to the methodology they were trained in. There’s many different approaches to human change and development. In the Emergent Coach Training program, our coaches learn how to help a client get deep quickly under hood of top level thinking to the place where decision-making really happens—the embodied unconscious. This not only reveals our deepest thinking, desires, aversions and patterns but gives an incredibly powerful way to work with them on a fundamental level to be able to create rapid sustainable change.

So if you’re 100% happy with how all areas of your life are then it’s pretty likely a life coach is not for you at this point. If you’re not so satisfied, even if you don’t quite know what it is that’s eating you or what you even want, a well-trained life coach might just be for you.

Rod Francis

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