There are many differing opinions on what a life coach is; but as a whole, society can agree on one specific “not”. A life coach is not a counselor, nor is s/he licensed to counsel. (Though to clarify, some licensed counselors DO become coaches. Richard Nongard stresses the importance of keeping the counseling and coaching relationships separate.)
Doctor Catherine Weber (licensed clinical psychologist), said that a coach’s role is “coming alongside an individual to help them discover new ways of achieving life goals” while encouraging his/her personal creativity. It is a “drawing out” what the individual already knows but keeps locked away inside. It can be locked away due to that self-limiting fear or it can be locked away because one doesn’t know how to reach it.
A life coach keeps the client focused on a future-forward path, providing a solution-focused or action-focused perception of the individual’s current and desired path (or life choice, or personal issue). A life coach comes alongside the client and helps them realize their dreams, hopes, and even their fears – realizing their dreams and hopes by setting goals and realistic expectations on how to achieve them while also helping them overcome their self-limiting fears. Goal setting and staying focused is done through many ways, primarily that of holding the client accountable, providing homework and assessments, and checking in with the client.
What kind of training is required to become a certified credentialed life coach? Several agencies or businesses claim to provide the appropriate training necessary. And there is not any one governing board or credentialing agency; though the International Coach Federation has worked hard and with thousands of coaches to create a good standing, even providing a code of ethics to which credentialed coaches are held.
Just as licensed counselors are to maintain a high standard and abide by a code of ethics, life coaches need to set high standards for themselves and maintain their own personal integrity. Just as counselors are to hold themselves accountable, so must also the life coach. Just as a counselor must be trustworthy, so must a life coach. And just as a counselor is to continue learning and growing, so must a life coach. This will prove the trustworthiness, the value, and the integrity of the life coach.
Ms. Shows is a certified life coach (not a licensed counselor) undergoing further training through the American Association of Christian Counselor’s coach training program. This article is a summary and review of her understanding of the materials presented.