Becoming A Coach

What Does A Life Coach Do? 7 Things You Should Know

A life coach is a professional who helps people maximize their wellbeing and fulfillment in life. Wondering how they do it? Find out how in this guide.

What Does A Life Coach Do?

Table of Contents:

Woman looking off to the side with curious expression

What Is A Life Coach, Exactly?

A life coach is a professional who helps people set and attain goals in order to maximize their wellbeing and fulfillment in life. Using evidence-based tools and techniques drawn from the field of positive psychology, the aim of life coaching is to help clients move from surviving to thriving. 

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  

What this means is that a life coach doesn’t diagnose, dispense advice, or tell clients what to do. Instead, they create a strategic thinking partnership with the client. 

In the space of coaching, a life coach helps others clarify their goals, values and life purpose. The coach also assists in identifying (and overcoming!) whatever may be getting in the way of achieving those aspirations.

A well-trained life coach understands and applies coaching theories and models of change, bringing tools for self-inquiry, focus, and accountability to the table. 

Woman explaining something to person across the table

How Is Life Coaching Different Than Therapy?

Therapists help explore and process the events and influences of your past, and how those experiences may be shaping your behavior in the present. A trained mental health provider is licensed to treat people using psychotherapeutic methods, and help clients achieve and maintain baseline mental health. 

In contrast, a life coach works with individuals who are already at a baseline level of mental health. Coaches do not diagnose or treat mental disorders. Life coaches primarily work with clients on issues related to their present life and forward. Together, coach and client define a future vision, and develop a tactical action plan to achieve the client's specific goals.

Coaching is and coaching is not infographic

Why Do People Hire A Life Coach?

“Stuckness” is the #1 reason that people hire a life coach. Stuckness, however, is not a generalized human condition! 

When people hire a life coach, they are often looking for help with a very specific problem. While coaching can help a client find increased satisfaction across many areas of life, there’s usually a specific point of entry that kicks off the process. 

People hire a life coach in order to:

  • Change careers
  • Set strategy for career advancement
  • Get over a breakup 
  • Find a new relationship
  • Make new friends or build community 
  • Improve fitness and health
  • Explore life purpose, meaning and spiritual development
  • Start or scale a business
  • Enhance relationships 
People gathered around a whiteoard coming up with plan

What Kinds of Life Coaches Are There?

Some coaches are generalists, but the majority tend to specialize in a particular area. You’ll find coaches addressing virtually every aspect of the human experience. 

Coaching specializations include:

  • Business coach
  • Health and fitness coach
  • Career transition coach
  • Leadership and executive coach
  • Dating and relationship coach
  • Parent and family coach
  • Divorce recovery coach
  • Financial coach
  • Sports coach
  • Life purpose coach
  • And many more!

Life coaches work with people in a variety of ways. Many offer personalized, 1 on 1 coaching. Some facilitate group coaching programs, workshops, or retreats. Often, coaches offer a combination of these things.

Man on a couch having a conversation with client

How Can A Life Coach Help?

Here’s four examples of how coaches help people get unstuck.

Overcoming overwhelm

Even the brightest minds get bogged down by confusion and overwhelm. If you’ve ever been caught in the grip of analysis paralysis, you know what a quagmire it can be.

A coach brings in an outside perspective to help navigate the bog of uncertainty, determine next steps, and take action.

Reducing self-imposed limitations

The unfortunate reality is that much of our self talk is rooted in false beliefs that only serve to hold us back. We all have them. The tricky thing is that we may not be aware of our own false beliefs, or how they affect our daily life.

A good coach is trained to see where a client’s subconscious thoughts and beliefs may be sabotaging them, and can help expose and rewire it. 

Addressing anxiety and stress

Most people experience anxiety from time to time. But for some, it can take an enormous toll on quality of life. In our fast paced, “always on” culture, there are a lot of things that either cause or trigger our anxieties. 

A well trained coach can help determine the roots of anxiety and stress, and support the client in developing an effective approach for managing it. From there, the client will be in a better position to begin tackling their other goals.

Bringing the spark back

When people forget their passions, the color and vitality slowly drains from life. It’s often a subtle creep. Life gets busy, responsibilities accumulate, and we come to accept that it’s “just how things are.” But it doesn’t have to be.

Making space for joy involves reprioritizing, and committing to take new actions. A coach can reaffirm why cultivating joy is important, walk with their client through the process of carving out more space for play, and help them stay focused on the larger goal of increasing their overall well-being and satisfaction. 

two women blowing colorful glitter into the air

Does Life Coaching Really Work?

According to the 2017 International Coaching Federation’s Global Consumer Awareness Study, clients who have partnered with a life coach report a variety of positive impacts across the board. From this research, we can draw a number of conclusions about the tangible benefits of coaching.

Outcomes from life coaching include:

  • Improved communication
  • Increased self-esteem/self-confidence
  • Increased productivity
  • Optimized performance
  • Improved work/life balance

How Do You Choose A Life Coach?

What is their background and training?‍

When it comes to choosing who to work with, what you want to know is this: HOW do they achieve their results? 

Coaching is an unregulated industry. What that means is that unlike the practice of therapy, anyone can say they are a coach. No training required. That’s why knowing where your coach is coming from is important. 

Questions to consider:

  • Who trained them? 
  • Are they certified
  • What is their philosophy and approach to coaching? 

When you work with a coach, you’re asking someone to help you achieve your goals in the most effective way possible. Make sure the person you choose has the skills and experience to help rather than hinder your progress.

Does their perspective align with yours?‍

The way your coach looks at life matters. Their tone, style, and approach can make or break the experience for you. 

Many coaches have great skills. One of the main reasons why some people come away unhappy with the coaching process comes down to a lack of compatibility. 

When you don’t click with your coach, it’s hard to get the results you want. Like any relationship, there’s a lot of reasons why people end up working with someone that isn’t an ideal fit. 

If you’re looking for a coach, shop around. Most will offer a complimentary initial call to discuss your goals and assess fit. It’s OK to do several of these, to compare styles and approaches so that you can ultimately choose the person who’s the best match for you. 

Want To Be A Coach?

One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our life coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like a partner in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

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