What is a Life Coach?

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Often when I tell people I'm a Life Coach I'm met with blank stares; "OMG, that's awesome!" they say with excited smiles, but I can hear their brain ticking over; "what the hell is a life coach?".

Life coaching is one of the fastest growing industries but there are some common misconceptions and lack of knowledge around what makes a good life coach and exactly what they do.  Most people have heard of a business coach (helps you grow your business and gives you the tools to make it successful) and health, athletic or fitness coaches (there to motivate and encourage you to perform at your highest level and help you develop a game plan to succeed).

A life coach is not dissimilar, working with you to obtain the knowledge to develop, perform and succeed but within all aspects of your personal and professional life; love, money, career, health.  Coaching understands that no-one knows you better than you know yourself and that your ability to create a life you love lives resides within, so most importantly, a good life coach can help you achieve all of this while establishing a connection to your truest self.


Before we explore some common myths and get into exactly what a life coach is, I'll first tell you what life coaching is not; it is not therapy and it is also not for everybody.  There are times when therapy is appropriate and when life coaching is appropriate and a good life coach will be able to tell you when they feel you need help beyond what they can offer.

Tony Robbins explains that it is the fundamentals of life coaching that distinguish it from therapy.  "Life coaches do not diagnose, while therapists determine illnesses and pathologies so they can be clinically treated. Therapists analyse their client’s past as a tool for understanding present behaviours, whereas life coaches simply identify and describe current problematic behaviours so the client can work to modify them. In other words, therapists focus on “why” certain behavioural patterns occur, and coaches work on “how” to work toward a goal."

What you seek is seeking you.
— Rumi


Coaches don't require training. 

While formal training is not required as coaching is an unregulated industry, great life coaches should possess the right blend of expertise, personal experience and ability to communicate.  Your life coach should be able to assist you to determine and resolve issues in order to achieve maximum success.

Coaching is a form of therapy. 

Coaching is not therapy, coaches should help you to connect you to your own wisdom, they are not health professionals and do not diagnose.  If a coach presents themselves as a therapist or offers advice on what you should do with your finances etc; run a mile!  A coach should be able to draw on their knowledge, experience and training to work with the client to come up with a game plan and implement it.

I don't have the time or money for coaching. 

Coaching is an investment you make in you, your success, your growth and your overall joy and fulfilment.  You can waste time, money AND energy repeating the same patterns over and over again hoping you will one day figure it out or you can invest in a coach to help you achieve your goals and clear the path to freedom and success more efficiently and effectively.

You might hire a health coach to get your eating and physical wellness back on track, or a finance coach to help you regain control over your finances, a life coach is an expert on how to successfully excel in any area of your life.


People choose to hire life coaches because they want to feel better and do more tomorrow than they do today. They want to enhance their quality of life, see more growth and improve their output, and they want to do those things quickly and with conscious purpose.


You might be surprised by the people who use life coaches; celebrities, creatives, entrepreneurs, stay at home mothers.  Anyone who can identify a gap between where they are and where they want to be.


Some of the most common results clients get when working with life coaches include:

  • Overcoming weaknesses
  • Capitalising on your strengths
  • Expanding your comfort zone
  • Improving your thinking patterns
  • Clarifying your goals and priorities
  • Living with more clarity and in alignment with your core values and desired feelings
  • Developing empowering habits and rituals
  • Creating personal and business plans
  • Identifying and eliminating limiting beliefs
  • Obtaining a harmonious work/life balance
  • Learning to communicate better
  • Fostering more meaningful relationships with friends, family and professional partners
  • Working toward financial independence
  • Getting promotions
  • Achieving weight loss and/or fitness goals
  • Starting a new business or growing an existing one
  • Managing an important life or business transition


While all coaches have different methods they typically follow a similar format.

  1. Define your vision - what do you want to achieve?
  2. Assess the gap between where you are currently at and where you want to be
  3. Identify barriers, obstacles and limiting beliefs that might interfere with your personal growth
  4. Setting goals aligned with your core values - a good coach should challenge you to set goals that aren't limiting your potential but are still achievable.
Life coaching is solution oriented and future-focused.  Therapy is problem-oriented and focuses on the past.
— Bill Cole, The Mental Game Coach


Seeks to heal emotional wounds and recover from past trauma                                                    .

Seeks to bring clients from a non-functional place to a healthy functioning place (e.g. working through depression/anxiety affecting you at work or home)

Explores childhood, family and relationship issues

Works toward bringing the client to a more functional place

Comes from the medical world

Explores the historical roots of problems

Seeks to heal the past

Asks 'Why?'

Takes a more passive, reflective approach

Focuses on what is the problem

Mainly seeks to increase patient insight

Examines unfinished emotional business from all stages of life


Focuses on self-exploration, self-knowledge, performance enhancement and better self-management

Takes clients to highest level of performance and life satisfaction

Rarely asks about your childhood and family life

Advances the clients' potential

Comes out of the human potential & performance world

Solves problems in the now

Focuses on creating the future

Asks 'What is Next?'

Takes an active energetic approach

Focuses on what's possible

Solution-focused and action-oriented

Takes the client from where they are and helps them move forward

Source: Bill Cole: The Mental Game Coach.  How Therapists and Coaches Differ.  *Please note this list is sweeping and not entirely explanatory of the subtleties that exist.