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What is a life coach?

Updated: May 4

Do you find it confusing and hard to understand what life coaching is and what life coaches actually do? That is perfectly understandable because the concept of coaching is quite new and also so broad that even I (a certified life coach) find it hard to define in one sentence.

#1 Not a psychologist, psychiatrist nor therapist

A life coach is not a mental health professional. We do not deal with clinical cases, personality disorders, PTSD, and similar. To do this a person needs a specific medical education as these topics are more complex and require specialized help.

A life coach can have a specialization that gives them the skills and knowledge to help in fields such as addiction, trauma, loss, and some personality disorders. A life coach can also work together with a medical professional to help a person get their life on track.

#2 A coach just like the one in PA

If you were ever in high school or played a team sport, you have had a coach. This is the person that is in charge of training you, motivating you, helping you improve your performance.

Life coaching is very similar, minus the exercise, at least the physical one that is. With a life coach, you get unconditional support and a cheerleader. Your life coach will be your supporter in everything you do like no one else. This is an essential part of the life coaching job description.

#3 Unconditional positive regard

Part of the code of ethics in life coaching is to have unconditional positive regard for the coachee. This means that a coach believes without doubt nor condition that their coachee is of good nature, is capable of taking control of their life and implementing change.

This is another very important aspect. If your coach doesn't believe in your capabilities, then you better not work with them. Life coaching is about empowering and offering a type of support like no other. This is to be based on positive feelings and likeness between the coach and coachee. In simple words, if your coach doesn't believe in you, you also probably won't believe in yourself and all your money and efforts would be wasted.

#4 A mirror

This is one of my favorite aspects of coaching. During a coaching conversation, a life coach uses observation and reflection on what the coachee says. This serves as a mirror to the coachee. They are reflected back on what is said, which can have incredible effects.

Hearing your own words back at you, without any judgment can be a true lightbulb moment. It has happened to me and I constantly see it happen to my coachees.

#5 Honest constructive feedback

This works in relation to #4 because as the coach would mirror your words, they could also give you feedback on what was heard. Now I know that this can seem like a simple yet very unpleasant thing to receive.

A life coach is trained to do it in a way that you would really hear it and not just react to it. And even if you do react, a life coach will help you understand what it is about what you hear that makes you react in a certain way.

The feedback given by a life coach is not mixed with judgment, direction, or their own opinion. And this is what makes it so special.

#6 A best friend with no ego whatsoever

We all have friends and we often want to share with them our stories, thoughts, and feelings. However, that is what our friends also want to do so we can end up in a conversation where we try to overtake the other person so that we can tell our story. Also, friends offer advice, opinions, viewpoints, or project their own experiences. But also they support us, comfort us, and love us.

That is what you can expect from your life coach. Ultimate support and comfort, but without the ego. A life coach will listen to your story with undivided attention and will notice where there might be more underlying your words.

A life coach does not have the need to express themselves, prove a point, or teach you a lesson. They can sometimes share a similar experience but will never take too much from the time that is to be focused on you. A coach would usually share only for the sake of relating to the coachee if they see fit.

I do it every now and then with some coachees when I feel it will help them feel understood and noticed. But I don't do it with everyone.

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