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What is a life coach? And how do you become one?

When in need of guidance or support, we often turn to our closest friends and family. Why? Because we trust these individuals and know that they have our best interests at heart. But here’s the truth of the matter… they’re often not the best at offering objective advice. And that’s where a life coach comes in. 

In this article we explore the role of a life coach – what they do and who they help, as well as the experience and training required to establish your own life coaching business.

What is life coaching all about?

A life coach is a trained professional who helps their clients plan and work towards positive life goals. Depending on the specialism of the life coach, goals may be professional or personal. 

A person might want to boost their business success. Or find their way to a better work-life balance. They might want to overcome longstanding fears. Or need unbiased support as they make a major life change. 

For anyone caught in a rut or struggling to break negative belief patterns, life coaches provide support and encouragement, helping them find a positive route forward.

What is the difference between a life coach and a therapist?

Life coaches and therapists both build 1-to-1 relationships with their clients. They tend to listen and guide clients to reach their own conclusions and they don’t usually dish out biased advice. 

However, there also are lots of differences between the two disciplines. 

A therapist tends to focus on how past experiences have affected a person’s present reality. They can help people manage their emotions and are qualified to help people with depression, anxiety or addiction.  

In contrast, a life coach looks forward, helping a client to plan for the future. They give a client the structure and motivation they need to discover their ambitions and work out the best plan to achieve their goals.

What does a life and business coach do to help clients reach their goals?

A good life and business coach will take clients on a journey of self-discovery.

Weekly sessions take place in person, over the phone or email, and will usually span at least a couple of months. During that time, a life coach will take a client through the following stages:

  1. Perspective. Firstly, a life coach will encourage clients to see the bigger picture, guiding them to work out where they are now, and where they would like to be in future.
  2. Empowerment. Next, it’s all about challenging the negative thought patterns and behaviours that prevent a person from achieving their goals. A life coach will encourage a client to rediscover their self-belief and confidence.
  3. Motivation. A life coach will then help a client to set realistic goals, broken into achievable chunks. They will continue to support their client with their motivation and accountability.

How do you become a life coach?

It is possible to change a person’s life and make a decent amount of money for the privilege. A life coach can expect to earn upwards of $50,000 per year, with six-figure salaries for experienced coaches. 

So what is the best route into life coaching? 

Some people come to life coaching as a second career. These people have specific business experience that helps them develop a niche in career coaching. Or they have experienced and overcome personal challenges, learning strategies they can share with others in the process. 

Life or career experience can be really useful for life coaching. But having the right skills and training is essential

What skills do you need to be a life coach?

To be a successful life coach, you need to be:

  • A good listener.
  • Empathetic. If you’re going to get the best from someone, that person needs to feel understood. That means leaving judgement and bias at the door.  
  • A great communicator. Rapport with clients is really important. As is the ability to quickly build a productive relationship with each new client. 
  • Inspiring and motivational. You need to have enough enthusiasm for both you and your client. 
  • Confident. Sometimes you’ll need to challenge your client in order to help them. 
  • Emotionally resilient. Coaching clients can be draining. It’s important that a life coach is able to switch off at the end of the day. 

As well as being able to provide an excellent service for your clients, a life coach needs to master business management too. 

The majority of life coaches are self-employed, which means they need to develop company admin, marketing and networking skills along the way.   

What do you learn in a life coach training course?

Life coaching isn’t a regulated profession so you don’t need to have specific qualifications. Nevertheless, for people who are serious about life coaching, it’s a good idea to attend a training course before starting your business. 

A course teaches you the theory behind life coaching and the key strategies you can use to structure your sessions and support your clients. 

It’s also important to learn about life coaching best practices. On a training course, you’ll cover issues such as confidentiality, maintaining boundaries, operating ethically, and when to refer clients to a qualified therapist. 

This knowledge will help you become the best life coach you can be, providing your clients with truly life-changing support. 

Interested in studying a life coaching course online? Our course has been designed in collaboration with industry experts, offers full tutor support and provides all the input you need to begin a career in life coaching. Download the course brochure to find out more.    


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