Perhaps your good friend just shared about the great experience they had working with a life coach.

Or, maybe you’ve come across life coaches on the internet or the radio. Life coaches are all over the place nowadays, but most people don’t know what life coaches do exactly. In this article, I’ll shed some light on the question— What is life coaching all about?

What’s the history of life coaching?

Life coaching had its early roots in the self-empowerment movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It finally emerged as a field in the 1990s when companies like IBM recognized its power for helping high-achievers become even more effective. As companies downsized and workers began changing careers more frequently, people started seeking career coaches to help them find new jobs. There are now many branches of coaching, including life coaching, career coaching, business coaching, leadership coaching, and executive coaching.

What does a life coach do exactly?

There are now hundreds of schools that teach various styles of coaching. You can separate coaching methods into two categories—performance coaching and developmental coaching. Most coaches offer performance coaching; they focus on identifying and achieving your goals. This sounds great, but there can be a missing link in how performance-based coaches work. While you may achieve your goals, you may not develop life-long skills that help you achieve your goals once you stop working with your coach.

This is where developmental coaching comes in, which is the type of coaching I practice. Developmental coaches help you identify your goals and achieve your goals (just like any other coach). In addition, though, they use their in-depth understanding of habit change to help you permanently change your behavior and develop skills that last a lifetime. This way, you can continue achieving similar goals long into the future, without the support of a coach. Instead of just fishing for you, they teach you how to fish.

While executive coaching, leadership coaching, and career coaching focus on the work aspect of your life, life coaching helps you transform more personal aspects of your life. In particular, a life coach can help you recover from burnout, discover greater work-life balance, and develop healthier boundaries. That said, many challenges have both professional and personal components, and life coaches can help you navigate both these sides of the road.

What is the difference between consulting and coaching?

There’s a big difference between coaching and consulting. A consultant acts like a teacher who offers advice, based on their knowledge and expertise. Coaches, on the other hand, honor you as the expert in your own life and work. A talented coach will help you remove your inner blocks and obstacles so that you can achieve your goals with ease, now and long into the future. What’s confusing is that there are now many consultants who market themselves as coaches. Before you hire a coach, ask them about the process they use and make sure it’s what you need.

What training and certification do life coaches need to get?

Because life coaching is an unregulated field, anyone can put up a shingle as a life coach (or any other type of coach). This is why it’s so important that you ask any life coach who you’re considering hiring what certifications and professional training they have. Luckily, although life coaches don’t need a license to practice, they can choose to pass a training and assessment by the International Coach Federation (or ICF). The ICF’s testing process is rigorous, and most of the best coaches out there are ICF-certified.

So, what is life coaching all about? A lot of it comes down to what an individual coach offers.

I encourage you to interview any coach you’re considering working with to find out about their approach, specialty, and training. If you think you might want to work with a life coach, I invite you to click here to read more about the life coaching services I offer. It would be great to speak with you more!

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