- Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
A life coach is someone who aims to help and empower others to make, meet and exceed personal and professional goals - including excelling in the workplace, becoming happy and fulfilled in the home, exploring the self and the world, and achieving ambitions.
By harnessing specialist techniques based on core psychological principals and natural intuition, life coaches provide clients with the tools to confidently face difficult situations, push past emotional barriers and eventually view life with fresh, hopeful and enlightened eyes.
Just as sports coaching enables athletes to hone themselves into the fastest, strongest, most tactical competitors in their disciplines, life coaching helps people from all professional and personal backgrounds improve their strengths and build upon their weaknesses to make the most of their lives.
A life coach will never try to be an 'agony aunt' - he or she will never attempt to dish out advice because, firstly - giving advice is just a way of imposing a personal view of the world onto another person (who may or may not share the same view) and, secondly - it is not a life coach's job to become personally involved in a client's life. Life coaching is about objectivity, structure and empowerment, not instruction or indoctrination.
At the heart of it all lies the idea that clients must be given the power to help themselves. Offering advice, opinions and judgements would undermine some of the basic principals behind life coaching, which include:
A) Subjectivity: we all have different perspectives of the world - no one perspective is 'right' or 'wrong', but some perspectives are restrictive and can stop a person becoming who they want to be.
B) Empowerment: it is within everyone's capability to adjust the limits of their own perspective. With the help of life coaching, anyone can learn to open their mind if they wish.
C) Guidance: there is a difference between an instructor and a guide. An instructor shows a person exactly what to do, whereas a guide provides the tools and support a person needs to do something for themselves. A life coach is a guide, not an instructor.
The term 'coaching' itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for 'carriage', which is a means of transporting something from one place to another. A life coach therefore, is an individual who guides another individual from where they are in life, to where they want to be in life.
Isn't life coaching just an American fad?
True, life coaching does stem from the 1970s American vogue for motivational talks and self-help books, which have always been notoriously sickly-sweet and upbeat in their mission to motivate the masses. British people tend to shy away from the idea of 'self-help' and 'self-improvement' - mainly because the mantra 'Keep Calm and Carry On' is an intrinsic part of our national psyche, making us a down-to-earth, self-deprecating crowd. Whereas the British are stereotypically stoic and modest in nature, the United States was built upon ideologies of strength, hope and improvement - values that paved the way for a flourishing self-help industry centuries later.
Unlike some of the self-help titles from the U.S ('How to Shine Out in a Crowd', 'How to Keep a Man in Love with You Forever' along with thousands of other titles claiming to help readers get rich, get fit, get happy, get healthy in five seconds etc.), life coaching did not make any unbelievable-sounding claims - it did not pose as a miracle cure for unhappiness, or a quick-fix solution for obesity or debt. It offered a structured, methodological and realistic approach that resonated well with the British philosophy. The life coaching techniques used were based on psychological evidence and basic intuition, not opinion, judgements, or wishy-washy life advice.
People are starting to realise that 'self-help' is not a self-indulgent fad, it is in fact a way of improving what we already have, utilising what we already know and breaking down limiting preconceptions about who we are and what we're capable of. Even the most skeptical among us can benefit from discussing and organising our lives with an impartial stranger.
So to answer the question simply - no, life coaching is not just an American fad. It is a legitimate, effective and transformational process that is here to stay and looks set to continue growing in the UK over the coming years.
Where can I find out more about the life coach industry?
How did life coaching become an industry? Why do so many of us search for advice and guidance? How successful is the life coach industry today? To find the answers to these questions and much more, simply head over to our History of Life Coaching page.
What happens during a life coaching session?
Life coaching sessions will typically be for a specific duration, often between 45 minutes and 60 minutes (depending on the life coach you choose). Sessions can be conducted over the phone, face to face, over email, via Skype and occasionally through instant messaging.
During the session, your life coach will ask you about what you want to get out of life, what areas you're unhappy with and where you'd like to see yourself ending up. Although a life coach will work with you, it’s often up to you to challenge or reflect upon certain ideas to help you move forward with your life. You will never be forced to make any decisions you don't feel comfortable with and all sessions will be confidential, allowing you to explore your thoughts and feelings privately.
Life coaching is often seen as a partnership between you and your life coach, who will gently encourage you to explore how to make positive changes in your life. A life coach should also offer support and feedback to help you to stay focused on your goals.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is thought to be one of the most effective and accessible self-help methods to come from modern psychology. Many life coaches use NLP techniques to help 'reprogramme' clients' patterns of thinking and behaving. To find out more about what NLP is and how it works, please visit our full information page about NLP.
Are there different types of coaching?
Yes. There are many different coaching styles coaches use to address different situations. To find out more, simply head over to our Coaching Styles page.
How is life coaching different from counselling?
The fundamental difference between counselling and life coaching is that counselling usually investigates the roots and causes of potential mental health problems, whereas life coaching focuses mainly on the future to encourage personal-development and self-improvement. Life coaches are not (unless specified) qualified to diagnose or treat any health-related problems, although if the situation arises they may suggest you see a GP.
What can a coach help me with?
Life coaches utilise effective techniques to help their clients in all aspects of life. If you've ever struggled with anything - whether it be sticking to a diet, learning a language, moving out of your comfort zone, standing up for yourself at work, keeping a stable love life, or achieving those things you always wanted to do (see a whale, go to Asia, climb a mountain and other so called 'bucket-list' activities), then consulting a life coach could help you.
A life coach will approach things pragmatically. Through questions and exercises, he or she will try to get a good idea of how you look at the world. From this they will be able to identify the most effective route to your goal. Some people feel intimidated by the idea of change and so need to take things very slowly to fulfil their goals. In this situation a life coach might divide ultimate goals into smaller bite-sized pieces. Other people get impatient and lose interest if their dreams aren't realised immediately. In this situation a life coach might suggest introducing stronger reminders and incentives to keep them on track.
However you approach life, your life coach will be able to tailor your sessions to fit. Subjects life coaches deal with include:
- Love life - do you ever wonder why the opposite sex never seems to be interested in you? Do you wish you had the confidence to approach someone you have your eye on? Do you have commitment problems? Do you have problems trusting your spouse? Are you having an affair? Are you struggling to deal with a divorce? Whatever the problem, a life coach could help you to understand your love-life problems and then work towards rectifying them.
- Business life - starting and running a business is tough work. Sometimes we get so absorbed in hard work we neglect ourselves. Life coaches can help with confidence, leadership, decision-making and work/life balance.
- Personal life - perhaps you feel like you're not making the most of life. There's so much to see, do and learn in this world, but often a lack of confidence, time and will-power can cause us to stay inside not doing anything. Life coaches use specialist skills to motivate their clients to do the things they want to do, so they can finally fight the urge to procrastinate.
- Performance - improvement is at the heart of life coaching. Whatever your skill, life coaching could help improve it. Whether you're an athlete, an artist, a writer, a performer, or a musician - adopting specialist techniques will help you to push your limitations and exceed expectations.
For a full list of subjects life coaches deal with, please head over to our Life Coaching Areas section.
Is life coaching expensive?
The cost of a coaching session will depend on a number of factors, including the type of coaching you require, the length of the session and location (you may find that central locations such as London charge a higher premium). On average, coaches can charge anything from £40 to £100 per session (business and corporate coaching can be more expensive). Many coaches offer a free initial consultation, and some may be able to offer discounted services.
How many life coaching sessions will I need?
You can have as many or as few life coaching sessions as you like. Because many life coaches operate over the phone or via the Internet, the sessions can easily fit around your schedule. Some people hire a life coach once every few months, some people have a session once a week. Often, it is entirely up to you to decide.
How can I tell if a life coach is any good?
Life coaching is currently an unregulated profession in the UK, meaning anyone can essentially design a business card and call themselves a life coach. Because of this, it can pay to do your research very carefully. On this directory you will only find life coaches who have either provided us with evidence of membership with a recognised professional body, or sent copies of relevant qualifications and insurance cover.
Still, qualifications and memberships mean little if you don't get on with your life coach. Rapport is one of the most important parts of life coaching. If you feel uncomfortable with your professional, you are unlikely to gain much from the session. It is therefore advisable to get in contact before you book a session. Never feel obliged to continue if you don't want to - you should never feel like you are listening to a sales pitch.
How do I search for a life coach?
In the top right hand corner of this page you will see a red box. All you have to do is type in your postcode, town or county and hit the blue 'search' button. This will take you to a list of all life coaches working in your area. To find out more about each life coach, simply click on their name. This will take you to their profile, where you can find contact details, price lists and a description of who they are, what they do and how they can help you.
Can I have coaching online or by telephone?
Lots of coaches offer online and telephone coaching for individuals who are unable to meet them face to face, or whom may simply find these services easier and more convenient. Online and telephone coaching can be offered in addition to one-on-one meetings or as the primary method of coaching. To search for a coach who offers this service, use our online and telephone search.
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