Frequently Asked Questions

What is life coaching?
Definition and history of life coaching
Whilst there are a number of competing theories regarding the origins of life coaching, one that pervades is that Thomas Leonard was one of its founding fathers in the US.  Thomas Leonard was actually a financial advisor but more and more was advising his clients on all aspects of their lives.  Leonard began referring to his work as ‘life planning’ rather than financial planning and developed the use of the word ‘coach’ to describe his role.
Although origins of life coaching can be found as far back as the 1970s, it was the 1990s when life coaching really began to take off.  IBM was one of the first large scale organisations to see the benefit of introducing coaching to staff as a means to reduce costly employee turnover.
Once considered a ‘fad’ from the US, life coaching is continuing to grow and more and more people from all walks of life are engaging the services of a life coach to gain clarity and success in their personal and professional lives.
Now heading into the third decade of the 21st century, competitive edge means mental fitness and resilience.  And with the advent of our global community through the power of the internet, we have never before had as much access to alternative ways to live.  More and more we are looking for a life of purpose and satisfaction and life coaching is a means to that end.
Life coaching is focused on the whole person, not just one area of their life such as career or health.  A skilled life coach understands the relationship between all aspects of their clients’ lives and works with them to achieve their vision for a successful, aligned life.  Many of our modern day struggles are caused by conflicts with our own values, and skilled life coaches are able to unravel these conflicts for their clients.
How does life coaching work?

Life coaching is not about the life coach telling the client what to do. The life coach has many skills that ensure that they will ask the right questions of the client to expand their awareness. This means that the client has more clarity on the right choices for them. The relationship between life coach and client is one of partnership. No one party has more power than the other. The client brings the answers (even if they don’t know what they are at the beginning of the relationship) and the coach brings the skills necessary to uncover the answers.

Why does life coaching work?
What makes the client experience so powerful is that by using skills of listening, questioning and creating a safe space, the client is able to explore themselves at a far deeper level than if they were following instruction.
This is what you will experience from a skilled life coach:
  • A safe and confidential space in which to explore your goals
  • A minimum period for the relationship (this ensures that the coach has space to build momentum for the client)
  • An agreement that outlines the expectations of both client and coach
  • To be fully heard in each session
  • Challenge through artful questioning techniques that encourage you to dig deeper, and examine your values and beliefs
  • Exploration of a number of opportunities to reach your goals
  • Accountability for agreed actions
  • Celebration of your successes
What's the difference between life coaching and therapy?
The definition of therapy is  “the treatment of mental or psychological disorders by psychological means”
Coaching is not therapy.  Life coaches are not qualified to treat mental or psychological disorders and should never attempt to.
Life coaching is focused on setting values aligned goals and developing a roadmap to achieving them.  In the course of that relationship, it is likely that the client may experience resistance or blocks to completing the tasks required to achieve those goals and a skilled life coach is able to assist them through those challenging times, but they are not healing a disorder or mental health diagnosis.
In simple terms, therapy and counselling deal with the past, coaching deals with the future.
It deals with helping our clients move forward from where they are to achieving the goals that they want to set.
Who uses a life coach?

Anyone who is willing to partner in the relationship can use a life coach, and we are seeing the engagement of life coaches continue to grow as the profession becomes more and more established. Life coaching is almost 50 years old now, and more and more people are becoming less skeptical than in the early days.  Not everyone is coachable though.  What makes life coaching so powerful is the relationship between coach and client.  For that to work, both parties must enter into coaching relationship prepared to work.  It is not the coach’s job to give advice and tell the client what to do, just as it is not the client’s job to expect it.  The partnership between coach and client is vital for success which is why clients should always interview their prospective coaches, just as those coaches will be interviewing the client to ensure the most successful relationship.

What kinds of things do people go to life coaches for?

Clients engage the services of life coaches for all sorts of personal and professional goals.  They might hire a life coach to help them to lose weight, be a better parent, get a promotion, improve their relationships, start a business etc  Life coaches are well equipped to assist their clients to navigate change in any area of their life and so they are approached for all manner of challenges and engagements.

How long do clients work with life coaches?

Clients usually work with a life coach for an initial period of three to six months before reviewing.  Often when a client begins working with a coach they have a particular goal in mind, and during the course of the relationship, they discover other aspects that they would like to work on too.  Life coaching relationships can last for years, however the coach should be checking in regularly to ensure that the coaching is not becoming a crutch for the client.  Clients should not be tied into long coaching contracts if it does not serve them.

What's the difference between a life coach and an executive coach?

Executive coaches perform a very similar function to life coaches. The main difference is that they are working with executives and have likely been hired by the executive’s organisation rather than the client themselves.  Executives deal with stressful situations and are often in a lonely position so their coach will help them to respond to these situations as well as giving them a space to explore and work things through.  This is very similar to what life coaches do for their clients.

Can I become a coach?

With the right training and support it is possible for many people to be a successful life coach.  Usually people who want to become life coaches have a desire to help others and can demonstrate empathy with their clients.  They are often the friend that is called upon for advice – although life coaches do not give advice.  If you are considering becoming a coach, there are helpful articles on the blog, or you can talk to someone by booking a no-obligation information call here.

Everything you need to become a masterful and successful coach.

Coach School is an ICF Accredited Coach Training Provider.  

Kapiti Coast, New Zealand