What is a Life Coach?

April 28, 2022

A life coach is a mental wellness professional who facilitates self-discovery and growth for people, and inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. As a result, people attain greater levels of happiness by learning who they really are, improving their lives, achieving significant goals, and gaining awareness around how they make choices.

Most people experience life like a game where you don't know all the rules, in which everything feels like it's happening to you. Working with a life coach is like getting the secret operating manual to you and what's going on inside your brain. This is how you eventually learn how to rewrite your "rules," and unlock more possibilities to attain your desired future.

Through skilled observation and direct communication, a trained life coach holds up a mirror that shows you what you're unconsciously believing and feeling, which in turn cause your current actions and results. From there, you can then choose different beliefs that better support the plan to achieve your goals.

A life coach helps you with all of the following:

  • create a vision of what you want, personal or professional
  • set, clarify, and achieve goals that align with who you are
  • make more possibilities visible
  • provide accountability
  • shift your energy to positive perspectives

Why Work with a Life Coach?

People choose to work with a life coach because they feel stuck in some way and want help working towards a future goal or state of being. Goals can be around anything, such as personal self development (e.g., becoming more confident, developing a positive mindset), or something work-related, like improving their work communications.

A life coach will help you identify what it is you really want and why, versus what you're actually doing. Ultimately, the coach points out inconsistencies in your thinking, such as limiting beliefs or assumptions, that may be blocking you from moving forward.

Throughout the whole process, a life coach is a partner that helps you engage in thought-provoking reflective inquiry. This means the coach doesn't ever tell you what to do, but will instead tell you with full honesty what they're seeing about you, so that you understand yourself better. Ultimately, this is how you come up with better strategies for success that leverage your particular skills and strengths. 

Types of Life Coaches

Because there are so many ways a life coach can offer support, there are many different specialties of life coaches, including:

  • Addiction coaching
  • ADHD coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Career coaching
  • Dating and relationship coaching
  • Divorce coaching
  • Executive or leadership coaching
  • Fitness coaching
  • Family coaching
  • Financial coaching
  • General life coaching
  • Health coaching
  • Sex coaching
  • Spiritual coaching
  • Transition coaching

Some of these coaching specialties are much more advice or consulting driven, such as business or career coaching. Many specialty coaches have created programs or courses that they sell instead of, or in addition to, coaching. Since the particular offer can vary so greatly, verify the details so that you know it's a good fit. You deserve to work with someone who can give you what you're looking for.

What to Expect During a Life Coaching Session

As the client, it's your responsibility to decide what you talk about during each session. You can choose to bring any topic, and the life coach will help you reach greater clarity, insights, or awareness so that it's a conversation with a productive outcome.

During the actual sessions, a life coach (depending on their training) may draw upon any number of tools such as direct reflection, observation, powerful questions, neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, or other frameworks to help you see yourself more clearly. 

Since these sessions are all about direct communication, prepare to be met with questions that explore what you think or believe, how you're feeling, and what stories you might be telling yourself that hold you back from doing what you want to do.

If you commit to being fully honest with your coach during this process, you'll gain awareness of the messages that have embedded themselves in your subconscious as the unwritten rules you've been living by. This is first step to awakening. Freedom comes from understanding it's your choice to think and act differently, which is the root of all true transformation in your personal development journey.

Logistical details like how often you meet or where are up to you and your coach. It's common to conduct sessions in-person and over Zoom/Skype/phone. Sessions typically range 30-60 minutes, once a week or biweekly. Some clients and coaches only meet once a month.

Coaching can happen one-on-one, or in a group setting. Group coaching means that someone gets coached in front of the other people in the group. The idea is that all may benefit and learn from the coaching even if they're not the one actually getting coached.

The Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist

A lot of people are confused by what coaches do versus what therapists do, which is understandable, because there can be some overlap.

Similarities between coaching and therapy

Similar to a therapist, people seek out a life coach to talk to someone who is objective and isn't a friend or family member.

Both a therapist and a life coach can help you understand yourself better, and both can help you design your goals and actions to positively support you in the future.

Both options offer the opportunity for inner work, which can go quite deep emotionally and mentally.

Both coaching and therapy draw upon psychotherapy, neuroscience, cognitive behavioral science, emotional intelligence, and various other fields or disciplines.

Coaching certifications vs therapy licensing 

The first real difference between coaches and therapists is that therapists are medically licensed professionals who diagnose and treat mental conditions (mental disorders, illnesses, conditions, addictions, or traumas), whereas life coaches are not. 

In fact, many life coaches don't even have any kind of certification. The field of life coaching is not government regulated yet, so there are life coaches who have been trained and certified, and there are those who have not gone through any kind of certification process.

Coaches who take their profession seriously tend to go through a certification program, and may also obtain an ICF credential (the ICF is considered the gold standard in coaching credentials, especially for corporate coaching). Coaches who hold an ICF credential are bound by the ethics and standards that ensure a quality experience for clients.

Looking into the past vs the future

Therapists can work with your past and your present, but they primarily focus on exploring the past in order to understand the present.

Therapists work on deep emotional issues to bring about personal healing or trauma recovery. They help clients fix problems, manage emotions, overcome challenges, and manage mental illness.

By contrast, coaches are more present- and future-oriented by helping you close the gap between where you are now versus where you want to be. Coaches focus on improving your performance, and help you learn and develop skills to achieve the goals you desire.

Coaches might touch upon past traumas or mental conditions as a means of helping you identify the source of what you're thinking or believing, but the primary function of the coach isn't to heal those past traumas. A coach's role is to facilitate your awareness and see more possibilities, let go of old beliefs that aren't supporting you, and shift your perspective and your behavior to what best serves your needs.

Because of this, coaching is more appropriate for people who are functioning in their daily lives. If you've always wanted help but felt therapy wasn't the right fit for you, then coaching might be what you were looking for.

A Life Coach vs a Mentor, a Consultant, or a Friend

There's a lot of confusion about what a coach does. Part of this is because it's less known as a profession since it's relatively new. The other bigger source of confusion is that people call themselves coaches when they're actually mentors, consultants, or teachers.


A mentor is someone who is a role model for you to follow. They're someone who has been there and done what you seek to do. If that's what you're looking for, then a mentor is a great fit to guide you, because they'll show you exactly how they've achieved their own results. Their knowledge is based on their own personal experiences.

Coaches don't use their own personal experiences to guide clients. Coaches always treat clients as the expert on their own lives, whereas coaches are experts on the coaching process.

If you're someone who doesn't enjoy being told what to do, then coaching is perfect for you.


A consultant is someone who considers themselves to be an expert in their field, and therefore have answers for the client. Their goal is to bring those answers to clients because they think these are the right answers, which means that they have an agenda.

Coaches do not hold an agenda. Their first and only goal is to ensure that clients are able to experience the change they desire. Coaches partner with clients to create and implement the right plan for a client, while still maintaining respect for the client as the ultimate expert on themselves.

Your Friends

We all know how much better life is with the right friends. They're supportive and are a big part of the community we belong to. While having friends enriches our lives, friends also make judgements about situations and people, which means they take sides, and often want to give you their advice on what to do. As we've all experienced, not all advice is qualified, or even wanted.

Coaches are specifically sought after for their objectivity and non-judgment. Because of their training, coaches do not give personal advice, and always prioritize what the clients wants to do. Coaches might occasionally challenge clients to be honest, while being supportive.

Impact of a Life Coach

The most successful people in the world have all worked with a coach. The changes that a coach facilitate have helped people feel better overall, as well as results like these:

  • increased performance
  • less procrastination
  • more success in business
  • career advancement
  • leadership abilities
  • more confidence
  • more trust in oneself
  • better communication
  • increased emotional and social intelligence
  • personal happiness
  • work life balance

My own clients have experienced huge changes in their personal lives. They've learned to recover from challenges more quickly, manage their thoughts and feelings to their own benefit, build healthier relationships with family and friends, set boundaries, speak up for what it is they really want, and shift to a more powerful mindset that serves their needs. As a result, their businesses and careers have also taken off.

They now make more money, have left unfulfilling jobs to pursue what they love, and are willing to explore more and see what life has to offer.

How to Know if You're Ready to Work with a Life Coach

If you've been looking for any of the following, a life coach can serve you:

  • become the best version of yourself
  • action towards progress
  • permanent transformation instead of a band-aid fix
  • to get unstuck
  • proof that there is more to life than this
  • you want to be comfortable in your own skin
  • true understanding of who you are
  • greater fulfillment, clarity, and purpose
  • more joy and happiness
  • inner peace and calm

Working with a life coach requires commitment on your part to to the process and openness to changing how you think and see the world. If you're ready to invest in yourself and your future, then now is the time to start looking for a coach to partner with you to create the change you desire.

Interested in working with me? Schedule a call with me.

The life you want is waiting for you.

crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram