Every question you’ve ever had about a life coach, answered

The ambiguous profession is not just a practice for the rich and famous, but can be a handy tool for anyone looking to realize and reach their full potential.

Shutterstock

Do you know what a life coach is? The profession has many misconceptions in popular culture, but Ladders answered all your questions here.

What is a life coach?

A life coach is a professional who helps one achieve their personal and professional goals. Through different techniques and conversations, coaches help clients define their goals and reach their full potential, whatever that may mean for an individual.

“Coaching is like a personal trainer,” said Annie Lin, founder of New York Life Coaching. “A personal trainer trains your physical muscles and a life coach trains your mental, emotional and spiritual muscles.”


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!


A coach is someone who helps people discover and take the actions they haven’t been able to in the past, according to Lily Sanders, a life coach and author.

“I specialize in helping people of any age learn how to navigate through their current life situation without losing their true self,” Sanders said.

What does a life coach do?

Life coaches use different techniques to help clients self reflect, realize their goals and reach their full potential. While there are some life coaches that focus on specific areas of your life, like professional growth or relationships, other coaches focus on general development.

Lin’s coaching philosophy is to focus on your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual level. By focusing on these separate entities, a life coach is able to identify your weaknesses, aspirations and roadblocks.

What kind of techniques do life coaches use?

Lin compares her techniques as a coach to a carpenter with a toolbox full of instruments. Each life coach utilizes different tools, but there are common practices, such as breathwork and meditation, that are used widely across the industry.

Additionally, Lin stresses thought-inquiry, a practice in which she will ask thought provoking questions that help people analyze their behavior.

Lin also uses more established approaches, such as Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). NLP is a communication and personal development technique that relies on the principle that each person has the resources they need to make positive changes to their life. EFT is a form of accupressure that uses pressure from fingertips instead of needles to awaken energy points on the body.

After learning about a client through a questionnaire, Sanders uses various techniques including “daily affirmations that feed the soul.”

Affirmations are positive statements that, when practiced daily, are said to help overcome self-sabotaging thoughts and aid in making changes to one’s life. The 12 affirmations, which Sanders selected and organized into an e-book, help clients learn how to connect the heart, mind and intuition.

Should you see a life coach a psychologist?

While both life coaches and psychologists can be considered therapists, psychotherapists are required to earn a degree in psychology and a obtain a license to see patients. Life coaches, who are not trained to diagnose or treat mental illnesses, are focused on helping clients understand themselves so that they can advance to the next level of success.

“Your true potential is way above your ceiling now…some people stand at the stairs but don’t know how to get there,” Lin said. “Sometimes they don’t even know how to look up.”

Life coaches, Lin explains, can not only help you look up, but also find your way past the ceiling.

Who should consider getting a life coach?

Anyone looking to advance in their career or personal life could consider seeing a life coach. According to Lin, many of her clients have already went through psychotherapy, worked through past traumas and are looking for help to get to the next step in their life.

Many people turn toward family and friends to talk through life situations, but in reality people close to you have their own motives when offering advice. A life coach acts as a neutral party whose only goal is to help you  progress.

How much does it cost to hire a life coach?

Pricing varies per life coach, both in cost and in format. While Sanders prices per one-hour session, Lin offers a three month package in which she meets with clients every other week for a 75-minute session. Lin also offers group coaching as a more affordable option.

How do you become a life coach?

While life coaches come from varied backgrounds (for example, Lin has a Master of Business Administration degree) each goes through training to become a coach.

Coaches can become certified as a general life coach through programs approved by the International Coach Federation. After receiving a general coach certification, coaches can then receive training in additional focus areas, such as relationships or careers.


You might also enjoy…