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Becoming a Life Coach: Rewards, Challenges, and Finding the Right Coaching School

Updated on December 19, 2014
Coaching can be an invaluable developmental tool
Coaching can be an invaluable developmental tool | Source

What is Life Coaching?

At the heart of life coaching is helping people improve at something they do - job, relationships, sports or simply life in general.

Since most people are plagued with self-limiting beliefs, they rarely reach their true potential. It requires faith, courage and patience - that flaky believing-in-yourself business. That's where having a life coach can be invaluable.

Life coaching is similar to traditional psychotherapy, but faster and more effective. You can spend years in therapy mulling over past grudges and broken hearts, and the results may not be noticeable or even definable. With a life coach, the immediate focus is on the present: what you want and what you need to do to achieve it. This approach is guaranteed to empower people who are otherwise too afraid to live with integrity and to become their true Self, without all the "shouldn'ts" and "can'ts" stifling their growth.

Although the concept of a client still applies, coaching someone is much closer to a partnership than to a mentor-student or a doctor-patient relationship. This is another important difference between coaching and psychotherapy: coaching is personal.

Life coaching is about changing your attitude in life in order to achieve your goals.
Life coaching is about changing your attitude in life in order to achieve your goals. | Source

Top 5 Reasons to Become a Coach

  • Accelerated personal growth
  • Sense of satisfaction in life from helping people
  • Getting paid for what you do anyway
  • A path of lifelong learning and self-improvement
  • Focus on one person at a time

Keys to Becoming a Great Life Coach in Under 15 Minutes

Top 3 Coaching Challenges

1. Failure. Fear of failure may be the most immobilizing force there is. No matter how good a coach you can be, failures are inevitable. The main challenge is to treat them as valuable learning experiences rather than a reflection of your abilities. On the other hand, fear of failure may be the biggest obstacle to the client you're working with. A coach must be resourceful enough to show him/her that failure in the past is irrelevant to the present.

2. The urge to give advice. Even though your input may be valuable and welcomed, only the ability to listen fosters a true rapport with the client. Nothing heals better than empathetic listening, and nothing is more underestimated.

3. Truly understanding your client's needs. Ultimately, it's not about you: it's about the client. Assimilating your own experience into your work is OK, but the idea is to empower people to make their own decisions, not to make them dependent on your authoritative judgment.

Holistic coaching strives to achieve balance between the mind and the body.
Holistic coaching strives to achieve balance between the mind and the body. | Source

Why Life Coaching is So Powerful

Areas of Application

As a life couch, you could be working with a wide range of issues or specialize in one particular area, such as:

  • defining one's purpose, values, and goals;
  • improving one's motivation and decision-making;
  • achieving balance and more authentic self-expression;
  • having more energy and stamina;
  • effectively managing stress;
  • improving sports performance;
  • developing a new career or increasing productivity;
  • improving personal relationships;
  • enhancing positive self-beliefs and inner confidence to take action in order to achieve one's goals;
  • encouraging openness and ability to look at situations and circumstances in one's life in new ways:
  • maximizing well-being etc.

Which Coaching School to Choose?

Acquiring life coaching skills typically means attending a coaching school, but not all schools offer the same type of education.

Coaching schools, like other academic institutions, have to have an accreditation to be considered meeting the standard of quality, but some non-accredited coaching schools offer unique integrative programs that may actually be more personal and holistic than the traditional certified life coach programs.

The ICF (International Coach Federation) is the largest association for professional coaches worldwide that provides accreditation to coaching schools, similarly to the APA (American Psychological Association) providing accreditation to psychology schools.

If a coaching school has a training program approved by the ICF, it will have the Accredited Coach Training Programs (ACTP) accreditation. Some coaching schools also have Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH), yet others offer Continuing Coach Education (CCE).

These three, and only these three - have the ICF's official stamp of approval, but to reiterate, there are many other good (alternative/holistic) coaching programs out there which are not affiliated with the IFC, that can offer unique training for the right kind of student.

Mastering a challenge on a physical level can also have a profound positive effect on mental and emotional levels.
Mastering a challenge on a physical level can also have a profound positive effect on mental and emotional levels. | Source

What would a Typical Coaching School Program Include?

  • A minimum of 125 hours of training
  • Training on all ICF competences and the Code of Ethics

  • A minimum of 6 observed-coaching sessions with an experienced coach
  • A comprehensive final exam that evaluates a student's life coaching skills

An Interview with the founder and CEO of the Institute for Life Coach Training


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    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 4 years ago from California

      I haven't tried coaching myself but I hope one day to experience the amazing benefits of life coaching you've mentioned. Good luck to you in all areas of your life. I hope you accomplish everything you set out to do!

    • profile image

      Regina Fasold 4 years ago from Florida

      Life coaching a best way to learn different techniques about life and the best known fact about life coaching is that through this we can easily change and repair our point of view on life and its different sections such as job, relationship, sports and general as mention in the above hub. I was amazed to get such type of facilities through life coaching program and just hope to develop my personal career and professional skills.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 6 years ago from California

      Well, it's certainly worth trying. I like that coaching is very result oriented, so if you're not getting what you want, it becomes immediately obvious, and alternative strategies could be found instead. With traditional psychotherapy it may take years to realize that a treatment plan (or therapist's theoretical approach) isn't working.

      The problem is, sometimes therapy, while generally helpful, becomes a way to avoid your real-life problems; a kind of self-indulgent escapism. Coaching is much more practical.

      In the end, I find that all most people need to succeed is a little structure and someone to believe in them.

    • shynsly profile image

      shynsly 6 years ago from Sierra Vista, AZ

      So, to put it into my own "redneck simpleton" terminology, you basically take the time to listen to a client's goals, or perhaps even help them figure out what their goals may be... then very politely tell them to quit whining and provide a much needed (proverbial) kick in the ass to get them headed in the right direction?

      Probably a little over-simplified, I'm sure, but what can I say, I'm not the most eloquent or well-spoken person, just trying to make sure I've got the nutshell version.

      I have to admit, my first instinct is to go back to my small town hick roots and think, "what a crock". But after reading your article, it makes me think about the millions of people who comprise the "prozac nation".

      Some of them justifiably so, but for others... I wonder if perhaps they wouldn't benefit more from a service such as yours more then any "meds"?