Life Coaching

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A life coach is an accredited professional who helps a client to make productive life changes with the aim of attaining goals.  This is generally accomplished by knowing the important questions to ask to catalyze progress in life.  A successful life coach will become a motivator, strategist, and accountability partner.  Life coaches can help clients reach goals in the most efficient, effective, and rewarding way possible from planning to execution personally and professionally.  Most life coaches have weekly conversations with their clients with the goal of sharing expertise to reach achievements more quickly through the introduction of new ways of thinking.  Often referred to as helicopter vision, a life coach is able to share a bird’s eye perspective with the client and bring about positive results with impressive speed.

Who can Benefit?

Life coaching can be an effective tool for clients in many different professions or situations.  Entrepreneurs, executives, business leaders, actors, musicians, creative people, managers, small business owners, start-ups, professionals, and home-makers all reach their goals with the help of a life coach.   Anyone who is frustrated by their level of success or want to stay motivated and on track to continue enjoying success, whether professionally or personally.  There are life coaches for almost any situation, to learn about and see a list of fitness coaches click here.  Many coaches specialize in specific areas so it is important to match the coach with the goal.  Generally, people hire life coaches to achieve goals, find happiness, find a purpose, to do what they love, navigate a career change, increase confidence, to attract the right person in personal relationships.  Anyone who feels resistance to attaining the change or goal in any facet of their life.

Conditions & Treatments

Many companies and individuals must face a lack of motivation and focus in the workplace which can result in low productivity. Life coaching has been proven to improve work performance. In addition, self-confidence, relationships, communication skills, life-work balance, team effectiveness, time management are often increased.   Life coaches often specialize in certain areas such as career transitions, life transitions, finding a partner, a purpose, family goals, health and wellness, spiritual and mental health coaches.

What Does the Science Say?

Studies have shown that life coaching can be an effective tool.  Whether based on return on investment, satisfaction of the client and their willingness to return or general opinions. Both types of studies have generally supported the effectiveness of life coaching. Approximately 86% of the companies studied said that they at least made back what they invested in using life and professional coaches. 99% of the companies and individuals who used life coaching were at least satisfied with the experience and 96% said that they would use a life coach again.

What Clients Experience

There are many different certification and training programs for life coaches which translates to a litany of different coaching styles and practices.  Never the less, a client-coach relationship will often follow these steps.

Initial Visit

This is usually a discovery session where both coach and client can get to know each other and decide if the relationship is the right fit.   Often, various learning style, personality, and processing style tests are taken and questions that lead to an understanding of the overall goals are given.  There is usually a list of steps or a preliminary game plan established for the client after the first meeting.

Coaching Visits

After the initial meeting, a schedule is developed and the client and coach meet whether in person or electronically.  Some of the techniques employed throughout the sessions are visualization, affirmations, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, meditation, relaxation, emotional freedom technique, finding beliefs or behaviors that limit success, as well as conversational mentoring.  Discovering the client’s intentions and goals or attaining the original goals will often result in reassessment and preplanning to attain a new set of goals.


Clients can expect to feel a sense of direction instead of feeling lost, frustrated, and confused.  The feelings of failure can be replaced with feeling successful, energized, and motivated.  Establishing a relationship with a coach can help a client develop trust and increase the motivation to overcome challenges.  A life coach can be many things, a consultant, advocate, friend, facilitator, navigator, and mentor.


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Life Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a life coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training, advice and guidance. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.


The first use of the term “coach” in connection with an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who “carried” a student through an exam.  The word “coaching” thus identified a process used to transport people from where they are to where they want to be. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1861.  Historically the development of coaching has been influenced by many fields of activity, including adult education, the Human Potential Movement, large-group awareness training (LGAT) groups such as “est”, leadership studies, personal development, and psychology.


Professional coaching uses a range of communication skills (such as targeted restatements, listening, questioning, clarifying etc.) to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieve their goals.  These skills can be used in almost all types of coaching. In this sense, coaching is a form of “meta-profession” that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in health, personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual dimensions, etc. There may be some overlap between certain types of coaching activities.


The concept of ADHD coaching was first introduced in 1994 by psychiatrists Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey in their book Driven to Distraction.  ADHD coaching is a specialized type of life coaching that uses specific techniques designed to assist individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The goal of ADHD coaching is to mitigate the effects of executive function deficit, which is a typical impairment for people with ADHD.  Coaches work with clients to help them better manage time, organize, set goals and complete projects.  In addition to helping clients understand the impact ADHD has had on their lives, coaches can help clients develop “work-around” strategies to deal with specific challenges, and determine and use individual strengths. Coaches also help clients get a better grasp of what reasonable expectations are for them as individuals, since people with ADHD “brain wiring” often seem to need external mirrors for accurate self-awareness about their potential despite their impairment.

Unlike psychologists or psychotherapists, ADHD coaches do not provide any therapy or treatment: their focus is only on daily functioning and behavior aspects of the disorder.  The ultimate goal of ADHD coaching is to help clients develop an “inner coach”, a set of self-regulation and reflective planning skills to deal with daily life challenges.  A 2010 study from Wayne State University evaluated the effectiveness of ADHD coaching on 110 students with ADHD. The research team concluded that the coaching “was highly effective in helping students improve executive functioning and related skills as measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI).”  Yet, not every ADHD person needs a coach and not everyone can benefit from using a coach.

Business and Executive

Business coaching is a type of human resource development for business leaders. It provides positive support, feedback and advice on an individual or group basis to improve personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching is also called executive coaching, corporate coaching or leadership coaching. Coaches help their clients advance towards specific professional goals. These include career transition, interpersonal and professional communication, performance management, organizational effectiveness, managing career and personal changes, developing executive presence, enhancing strategic thinking, dealing effectively with conflict, and building an effective team within an organization. An industrial organizational psychologist is one example of executive coach. Business coaching is not restricted to external experts or providers. Many organizations expect their senior leaders and middle managers to coach their team members to reach higher levels of performance, increased job satisfaction, personal growth, and career development. Research studies suggest that executive coaching has a positive impact on workplace performance.

In some countries, there is no certification or licensing required to be a business or executive coach, and membership of a coaching organization is optional. Further, standards and methods of training coaches can vary widely between coaching organizations. Many business coaches refer to themselves as consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching.


Career coaching focuses on work and career and is similar to career counseling. Career coaching is not to be confused with life coaching, which concentrates on personal development. Another common term for a career coach is career guide.


Co-coaching is a structured practice of coaching between peers with the goal of learning improved coaching techniques.


Financial coaching is a relatively new form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. Financial coaching is a one-on-one relationship in which the coach works to provide encouragement and support aimed at facilitating attainment of the client’s financial plans. A financial coach, also called money coach, typically focuses on helping clients to restructure and reduce debt, reduce spending, develop saving habits, and develop financial discipline. In contrast, the term financial adviser refers to a wider range of professionals who typically provide clients with financial products and services. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established.

Health and Wellness

Health coaching is becoming recognized as a new way to help individuals “manage” their illnesses and conditions, especially those of a chronic nature.  The coach will use special techniques, personal experience, expertise and encouragement to assist the coachee in bringing his/her behavioral changes about, while aiming for lowered health risks and decreased healthcare costs.  The National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC) has differentiated the term health coach from wellness coach.  According to the NSHC, health coaches are qualified “to guide those with acute or chronic conditions and/or moderate to high health risk”, and wellness coaches provide guidance and inspiration “to otherwise ‘healthy’ individuals who desire to maintain or improve their overall general health status”.


Homework coaching focuses on equipping a student with the study skills required to succeed academically. This approach is different from regular tutoring which typically seeks to improve a student’s performance in a specific subject.


Life coaching is the process of helping people identify and achieve personal goals. Although life coaches may have studied counseling psychology or related subjects, a life coach does not act as a therapist, counselor, or health care provider, and psychological intervention lies outside the scope of life coaching.


Relationship coaching is the application of coaching to personal and business relationships.

Sports Coaching

In sports, a coach is an individual that provides supervision and training to the sports team or individual players. Sports coaches are involved in administration, athletic training, competition coaching, and representation of the team and the players.

Ethics and Standards

Since the mid-1990’s, professional coaching associations such as the Association for Coaching, the International Association of Coaching, the International Coach Federation, and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council have worked towards developing training standards. Psychologist Jonathan Passmore noted in 2016:

While coaching has become a recognized intervention, sadly there are still no standards or licensing arrangements which are widely recognized. Professional bodies have continued to develop their own standards, but the lack of regulation means anyone can call themselves a coach…Whether coaching is a profession which requires regulation, or is professional and requires standards, remains a matter of debate.

One of the challenges in the field of coaching is upholding levels of professionalism, standards and ethics. To this end, coaching bodies and organizations have codes of ethics and member standards.  However, because these bodies are not regulated, and because coaches do not need to belong to such a body, ethics and standards are variable in the field.  In February 2016, the Association for Coaching and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council launched a “Global Code of Ethics” for the entire industry; individuals, associations, and organizations are invited to become signatories to it.

See Also


  1. Renton, Jane (2009). Coaching and Mentoring: What They Are and How to Make the Most of Them. New York: Bloomberg Press. ISBN 9781576603307. OCLC 263978214.
  2. Chakravarthy, Pradeep (20 December 2011). “The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring”. Forbes. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
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  4. Cox, Elaine; Bachkirova, Tatiana; Clutterbuck, David, eds. (2014) [2010]. The Complete Handbook of Coaching (2nd ed.). Los Angeles; London: Sage Publications. ISBN 9781446276150. OCLC 868080660.
  5. Wildflower, Leni (2013). The Hidden History of Coaching. Coaching in practice series. Maidenhead: Open University Press. ISBN 9780335245406. OCLC 820107321.
  6. Cox, Elaine (2013), Coaching Understood: a Pragmatic Inquiry into the Coaching Process, Los Angeles; London: Sage Publications, ISBN 9780857028259, OCLC 805014954.
  7. Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (2011) [1984]. Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood (Revised ed.). New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 9780307743152. OCLC 699763760.
  8. Barkley, Russell A. (2012). Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 9781462505357. OCLC 773666263.
  9. Hamilton, Jeff (6 January 2011). “26 Benefits of Adult ADHD Coaching”. Psychology Today. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  10. Knouse, Laura E.; Bagwell, Catherine L.; Barkley, Russell A.; Murphy, Kevin R. (May 2005). “Accuracy of Self-Evaluation in Adults with ADHD: Evidence from a Driving Study”. Journal of Attention Disorders. 8 (4): 221–234. doi:10.1177/1087054705280159. PMID 16110052.
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