Life coaching is still a bit of an unknown for most people. As one of my clients said, prior to our first session,'What the hell is a life coach, anyway?'
I can't say I could have answered this myself before I entered the world of coaching. So here's the inside scoop about what a life coach is and what a life coach definitely is not, what to watch out for and how to choose the right coach for you (because who wouldn't want someone devoted to bringing their awesomeness into the world?).
What a life coach is not...
Life coaches are not advice-givers, we are also not psychologists or psychiatrists, nor do we try to be. We refer clients to these mental health professions if necessary, or even work together with them for a client.
Although I've always loved self-help books, I used to (a bit harshly) associate life coaching with a mix of empty cheerleading and snake oil sales (e.g. How anyone can earn a six figure income in six months!). I also thought it was mostly inspirational quotes and possibly woo woo, with no substance behind it.
If that's what you thought life coaching was too, then, thank goodness, we were both wrong.
What life coach is...
The best way to think of life coaching is, as Martha Beck says, like a personal trainer. Of course, there will be variation in quality, but like personal trainers, some life coaches really know their stuff and support incredible results for their clients.
The way I have been trained, a life coach's role is to facilitate YOU to find clarity, make decisions with confidence and live the unique purpose in your own life, to reconnect to your needs and desires, to find joy and peace. Coaches partner with clients to help them reach their personal and professional potential. For example, I specialise in helping people do this who find themselves feeling stuck, caught in fear blocks, persistently worrying, overthinking or self-sabotaging.
Coaches use a whole host of knowledge, tools and techniques to work with clients. I personally draw from a wide range of sources, including neuroscience, psychology, mindfulness, sociology, good old fashioned self-help, spiritual wisdom, my own hard won life experience and knowledge gained from working as a mental wellbeing academic for over a decade.
What should you look for in a life coach?
If you are interested in finding the right coach for you, here are a few pointers to steer you in the right direction.
Firstly, I have been trained to understand at a deep level that great coaches come from a place of integrity and work to 'be the window and not the light' – i.e. it's not about them, it's about you. Look for a coach that is all about helping you shine, not about themselves.
Great coaches have a mix of outstanding training and education, deep and transformative life experiences that they can draw from and are committed to ongoing professional development. Ask the coach what they have trained in and where (I think it's important that they have been trained, no matter how great their self-teaching is), what their specialities are and even what their 'hell and back' is (the thing/s they have overcome in their life that they could help you with).
Great coaches also have strong intuition and connections to their clients so they are well equipped to help clients see and 'have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you' (Elizabeth Gilbert). That brings me to a huge part of it...
you two need to click!
You need to feel heard, supported and challenged. Coaching conversations need to be a safe, comfortable and lovely place where you can really let it all hang out – that's where the real transformation will spring from!
Most, if not all, coaches will provide a free 30/45 minute session so that you can ask questions, learn about how they work and their training, as well as see if you have a good connection. I would say you need to like working with your coach and they need to like working with you!
I personally would not go to a coach that I don't love working with, or one that would just take anyone as a client, even if they're not that keen on working with me. It should be enjoyable for both parties!
How much do coaches cost?
Coaching costs are extremely variable. I've heard of some coaches charging around $80 a session to (and I'm not kidding) $10,000 for a day! I am upfront about my costs, here they are if you're feeling curious.
All coaches should be completely transparent about their costs. You should feel free to ask them about their costs and to say no if it is out of your price range.
Is it worth it?
Coaching or not, YOU are worth exploring anything that you are drawn to, be it yoga, poetry, music, dance, independent personal development or coaching, that your gut says might work for you.
It will all become part of the tapestry of lessons, growth and transformation that make up your life's journey.
On a personal level, I have found that coach training, coaching myself and being coached has been just what I needed and what I continue to use to find contentment, peace and joy that I truly didn't know or believe was possible for me.
I've also seen my clients see and release blocks and painful beliefs/thoughts and transform in wild and wonderful ways. I've seen them using tools I've taught them and conversations we've had to change their lives in the ways they have been craving.
That's not to say that life doesn't still have challenges, nor that the 'work' of being human ever stops. It's just that with the learning and tools from good quality coaching, life gets so much sweeter and working with issues and challenges that arise becomes more like a sport of curosity and growth. Much less like work and more like play!
P.S. Melbournians! If you've been looking for a chance to Revive your mind and body, join me and Chafia Brooks, dancer and dance therapist to help you work through fear and achieve your goals, as well as to get back in touch with your body! Click here for more details. Places are limited, so book now. No dance skills needed and no solos ;)
P.P.S. Canberrans! Save the date, I'm coming to you on the 15th October for a beautiful two hour workshop on overcoming fear and making and achieving big goals!
Hi, I'm Dr Lara Corr, life coach and researcher in work and wellbeing. I coach successful 30 and 40 somethings who want more fulfilling or bigger careers but doubt themselves and their options. I help them get out of their own way, find direction and go for what they really want.