What is “Life Coaching”? This is a term that many people have adopted for their practice. This has led to an explosion of different and contradictory understandings for the term. I have seen life coaches on TV encourage people to hug trees; some therapists call themselves life coaches; and a raft of others adopt the term, from consultants to mentors.
It’s one of those terms that has, on the one hand, a clear meaning with formal training and qualifications, and, on the other hand, a use that seems to imply that it can mean just about anything.
There is no regulation for calling yourself a life coach, so anyone can do that. However, to be a qualified life coach, you need to learn how to do life coaching, and pass practical and theoretical tests, before you can get certified.
Life coaching and therapy
Life coaching isn’t therapy. A therapist can use life coaching as an adjunct to therapy, and a life coach can use therapy as an adjunct to life coaching, but they aren’t the same thing.
Why is it called “life coaching”?
“Coaching” normally means teaching, typically sport. However, Life Coaching is not teaching, So why the name?
The term is an accident of how it was first discovered, while coaching tennis. Timothy Gallwey was coaching tennis, and discovered that using certain methods proved faster and more effective than actually teaching.
These methods, thanks to Gallwey and a number of others, evolved into “coaching” people in life, thus the name “life coaching” — even though it isn’t coaching by traditional standards.
Well, what is life coaching?
The fundamental presumption in life coaching is that you have the answers in you or, if not, you at least know how to get the answers. The life coach doesn’t pretend to know your life, and isn’t your mentor or consultant.
The process involves using questions and using other methods to dig deep into whatever is worrying you, and come out with practical plans to improve or fix the situation. Although life coaching can sometimes seem therapeutic, it is an enormously practical approach to addressing issues in areas of your personal, professional and work life.
That practicality is why life coaching is so effective and why many executives use the service for their own work and advancement.
I use Life Coaching in Oxfordshire as an adjunct to my therapy, to help boost its effectiveness and, where necessary, to check that what you are asking for is really what you want.