We Know: All About Life Coaches

What Is A Life Coach?
A life coach is someone who can help you move through your life and all its attendant problems with grace and aplomb. Life coaching is, in essence, a professional partnership between a coach and a client supporting the client's professional and personal growth, in physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Life coaches address the whole person.

How Does Life Coaching Work?
A life coach's best tool is a set of hard questions. Most people have problems in their lives because they are unwilling to face the hard questions: Why can't you get your weight under control? Why don't you have the confidence to get your dream job? After getting the answers to these questions, your life coach will use many resources he or she is familiar with to help you repair the things in your life that are broken.

Life coaches are useless unless you're willing to change. All the hard work comes from you; your life coach just acts as your guide.

How Do I Know Who to Hire?
There are currently no regulatory standards for becoming a life coach, and no degree or formal training exist. You can't get a license to be a life coach.

The field of life coaching, though, came from executive coaching, in which an experienced and successful executive trained young executives in leadership and other life skills. Life coaching also draws from sociology, psychology, career counseling, mentoring, and other types of counseling.

If you're hiring a life coach, you should look for someone who has clearly been successful in his or her own life. A degree in a therapeutic field doesn't hurt, but it also doesn't guarantee the coach has the skills you're looking for. Ideally, your life coach should have testimonials and recommendations from previous clients, and can tell you stories about how he or she turned other lives around. The best life coach is one a friend has recommended to you.

A life coach who has been an executive coach, with skills in mentoring, behavior modeling and modification, goal setting, and similar personal-growth techniques, is also an excellent choice.


Do Life Coaches have Specializations?
Life coaches are sometimes generalists, helping straighten out all parts of your life; but some are specialists, focusing on specific areas: career, transitions, personal coaching, executive and small business coaching. You can often also find life coaching online and over the telephone, but you should ask yourself whether this is an appropriate choice for you; it may be cheaper, but not having to answer to another person's face may make it less effective as well.


The Controversy Around Life Coaching
Partly because it is unregulated and non-standardized, life coaching is often criticized as "paid friendship." Some critics even think it might be dangerous, a form of unregulated and unrestricted psychotherapy. In some cases, this may be true. But in state after state, legislation and courts have passed over the criticism as of little worth.

Why? Because instead of delving into the past of the client, the life coach focuses on changing the future of the client. This is a critical distinction, and the best selling point of life coaching.

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