What IS a Life Coach?
Well, the International Coach Federation (ICF), a credentialing body for coaches, defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. So that’s pretty clear. Thanks for reading! JK!
If you’re anything like me in the way of comprehension, you probably find that definition a bit abstract. A little Jackson Pollockish. The only things I can really grab a hold of in that definition is partnering and maximize potential. The rest sounds nice…soft…fluffy? I’m not mad at that definition, though. The truth is that it can be really hard to understand what a life coach is and what the heck they do, but I’m going to do my best to break it down.
Here goes! To start I feel like it’s super necessary to explain what a life coach isn’t. So a life coach is most definitely not a psychotherapist or mental health professional of any sort…unless they are. Umm, what? Let me explain. A psychotherapist or mental health professional can certainly be a life coach. That is they can be trained in the practice of coaching and coach their clients in addition to treating their clients. A life coach, however, can not treat their clients unless of course, they are a licensed psychotherapist or other mental health professional. Life coaches do not diagnose or treat any mental disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. Coaching is not therapy in any form and should definitely not be substituted in lieu of therapy. Make sense? Great!
Coaching is a partnership between you and the coach. An alliance and the coach is your best ally. The agenda–the betterment of YOU! Whether it be personally, professionally, spiritually, physically, it’s all about you. Who you are currently, who you want to become. Notice I didn’t say why you are the way you are…that’s therapy territory! It’s about you doing introspective work, mirror heavy stuff, to find your truest desires. Then it’s about setting goals and creating an action-plan to crush them. So where does the coach come in? Well, a coaches job is to ask those really thought-provoking questions that inspire you (please, refer to ICF definition above, wink wink). To assist you in tapping into your creative side (we all have one, I promise), and to think differently than you normally would about how to tackle your action-plan to achieve your goals. A coach can teach you how to reframe your perspective, replace your limiting beliefs with limitless beliefs, and change your mindset–habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and responding.
So, you were probably still with me up until those last few sentences where it got a little fluffy. Forgive me. I’m going to reign it back in for you. What does it all mean? What are you going to walk away with? Well, it depends on what you sought a coach for, to begin with, but I’ll humor you and throw out a few possibilities. Being resilient in the face of adversity. Clarity in your life’s purpose. A new job. A new love. A renewed love. A renewed love for your job. An amicable divorce. These are all areas that I coach in (shameless plug). Improved health. A deeper grounding in your spirituality. A stressless wedding (yes, there are coaches for this!). An entire tool bag filled with life coping techniques, hacks, and skills!
If you still aren’t sure how a life coach could really benefit you, I suggest you reach out to one, preferably me (I kid, I kid…not really though ;-)), and schedule a discovery appointment. Most coaches offer a free, mini “get to know them” session. Use this time to ask all the hard-hitting questions you still have about what the hell a life coach is!