Overcoming Hurdles with Life Coaching
-By Melissa Dorn, PhD candidate
So, you’ve heard about life coaching? Where did you hear about it? What do you know about it, and why would you even need one anyway?
Well, if I know you enough to make this assumption, you are probably here because you might be somewhat of an untraditional student of psychology. Or maybe a self-help junkie, whose gotten your hands on a ton of resources from the big-time coach/players in the industry like, Tony Robbins, or Brene Brown. Maybe, you’ve even been emerged and persuaded in the possibility of having a million dollar, money making career that involves helping people gravitate towards their goals.
On the other hand, maybe you’re on the other side of the desk, and have used a life coach in the past to help you achieve your own personal or professional objectives, and would like to pay it forward.
Either way, today will assist you in making the decision for yourself if this career path is for you, as I give you the chalk-talk of a lifetime all about the good, the bad and the beautifully-ugly as I call it, aspects of life coaching. Here we go!
What the Heck is Life Coaching?
Life coaching has been defined as helping people deal with stress, reaching personal and professional achievements, developing action plans, motivating for personal improvement in the focus areas of communication, family, relationships, overall health, spiritually, and even assisting with organizing thoughts and beliefs for seeing visions clearer. The life coach is considered to be a change agent, entering the equation for change without knowing what the outcomes will be (House, House, Sandahl, & Whitworth, 2011). The coaching industry involves strategies that are based primarily on psychological and educational interventions to help and support people in maximizing their future possibilities.
Life coaches are not only perceived to be that change agent which transform the way we think, but revise our behavior and grow the neurochemistry within our brain. They are also known for getting people out of their comfort zones by motivating and inspiring them in a structure that incorporates the best accountable interventions. The best way that I can describe these types of coaches are results oriented, service providers at heart.
Life coaching approaches vary in strategy, however all seek to improve short term and sustainable well-being using evidence-based approaches from positive psychology and the science of well-being enabling the person to succeed in an ongoing manner long after coaching has been completed (Oades & Passmore, 2014). Similar to the psychotherapeutic field where more than 250 distinct approaches are identified, approaches to coaching are very different. Several theoretical attempts have been made in literature to classify the existing coaching approaches and schools, however none of these approaches have been validated (Segers, 2011). That’s important information if you are looking for a true and tested system to go by.
What’s The History of Coaching
Decades of research have defined elements critical for people to succeed with complex mental and/or physical issues. Central to these findings are person-centered techniques that incorporate education, personal navigation, coaching, and case management empowering and enabling individuals to learn the necessary skills for self-management (Ozaki, 2011).
However, the history of coaching has not been researched as thorough, and it’s quite a hard task to completely identify in that it does not have one specific theorist tied to its fame. Simultaneously, there is not one creator or particular area of connection for the idea of self-improvement, even though we do know that since the beginning of civilizations people craved enlightenment and progress.
As a term and a profession, ‘life coaching’ only really came into fruition in the 1980s as an extension of sports coaching and business coaching. Because of these reasons, coaching has now become one of the fastest growing professions within the corporate world.
Coaching has become a two-billion dollar per-year global market and has reached the maturity phase in terms of the product life cycle in two of the 162 countries surveyed in the Global Coaching Survey (2009), while in 83 countries it is still in its infancy (Segers, 2011). This is probably another reason why you’re interested in getting on the bandwagon for this one!
How is Life Coaching Different from Therapy?
You don’t need to be gasping on your last breath, wondering if the next day will be filled with the latest turmoil of panic attacks, like your favorite reality TV episode was today, to understand the fact that all human beings need support to get through any kind of change. If you stop to think about it, it’s almost unheard of to try to get somewhere without the support of someone whether it be a team of people, a friend, colleague, or family member.
We all need assistance at some point in our lives, the underlying problem is who do we choose, and why. A psychologist, therapist, counselor, life coach, or some kind of celebrity rockstar your sisters friend knows online all essentially can help you in some way, but what’s the difference?
Life coaching differs from therapy in its goals, clientele, practice, and practitioners because of one major key factor, and that being within the definition of psychotherapy itself.
Any form of treatment for psychological, emotional, or behavior disorders in which a trained person establishes a relationship with one or several patients for the purpose of modifying or removing existing symptoms and promoting personality growth (Claiborn, 2014), is primarily what the definition is.
Psychotropic medications may be used as adjuncts to treatment, but the healing influence in psychotherapy is produced primarily by the words and actions of the therapist and the patient’s responses to them, which in combination are meant to create a safe, intimate, and emotionally meaningful relationship for the open discussion and resolution of the patient’s concerns (Oades & Passmore, 2014).
Treatment and healing are the main goals for therapists, which are not what a life coaches main focus is within their practice.
Life coaches imply strategies for clients that are not looking to specifically heal people from their medical or neurological disorders, but to shift their outlook forward toward their best future-self. Action-oriented sessions are filled with positivity while not focusing on past traumas, leading to experiences of joy. Clients are left feeling energized knowing that they have the confidence to take on the world.
How Do You Know if Life Coaching or Therapy is Right For You?
If you are already a life coach, deciding whether or not a potential client can use your services or one of a therapist’s can be a challenging task. Questioning and interviewing techniques can be the most effective way to get to the core of issues that a client is dealing with. Is the client looking for a change? Are they trying to achieve a particular goal?
Are they trying to heal from a traumatic event, or trying to cope from anxiety, or some kind of repeated unwanted behavior? Sometimes people just want more from life, more peace of mind, more security, more impact in their work. And sometimes they want less in life, less confusion, less stress, less financial pressure (House, House, Sandahl, & Whitworth, 2011). The individual reasons for wanting help in the first place will give you as a coach huge clues as to what will serve the client best.
If you are a potential client, the questioning techniques will have to be asked inward. Am I looking for a change? Am I trying to achieve a certain goal? Or, am I trying to heal from an event or situation that has taken place in my life? Is my repeated behavior unwanted and do I need help to control it? If you as an individual can figure out what kind of help is needed the choice becomes clearer on who to go to.
In conclusion, life coaching is more than just an occupation. It’s a way of communication and conversation that promotes change within an individual and environment. There are a ton of books out there as resources, CLICK HERE FOR ANOTHER GREAT RESOURCE :-), as well as an intense amount of videos to enhance your overall understanding. If you decide to take this career plunge, don’t look back, and of course have a coach help you jump by pushing you off to the right start.
Check out my website for more information or contact me@: www.foundationyou.com
Claiborn C. Psychotherapy. Encyclopedia Britannica [serial online]. September 2014;Available from: Research Starters, Ipswich, MA.
House, H., House, K., Sandahl, P., & Whitworth, L. (2011). Co-Active Coaching. Changing Business Transforming Lives. (Third Edition ed.). Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Oades, L., & Passmore, J. (2014). Positive Psychology Coaching A Model for Coaching Practice. The Coaching Psychologist, 10,
Ozaki, R. (2011). Personal navigation, life coaching, and case management: Approaches for enhancing health and employment support services. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 34,
Segers, J. (2011). Structuring and Understanding the Coaching Industry: The Coaching Cube. The Academy of Management Learning and Education, 10,
I would love to hear your thoughts on this! And if you enjoyed, please scroll down and click the “share” button. ☺