What is a Life Coach?                                                                                   by  Deborah Tucker, M.A.

What do you do when you feel stuck in some area of your life?  You may be considering a career change, wanting to improve your relationship, thinking that you are just not happy, or wanting to accomplish a particular goal that is causing you trouble.  You've talked it over with friends, tried to make some changes yourself, maybe read a few self-help books, but to no avail.  You still feel stuck.  What else can you do?

You can hire a life coach!

Think about it.  These days, if you are stuck in trying to lose weight or increase fitness, you can hire a personal trainer.  If you need help with academics, you hire a tutor.  If your financial future needs a tune-up, you find a financial planner.  Well, what if you feel that your life in general just isn't quite what you want it to be?  Or, what if you've been trying to accomplish a specific goal and you just can't past a certain point?

You can hire a life coach!

What would a coach do?  A coach helps you clarify exactly what your goals are, helps you determine what steps you need to take to achieve those goals, and helps you set into action a plan for accomplishing those steps.  A coach then helps you hold yourself accountable for your progress.  Probably even more importantly, a coach helps you identify those stumbling blocks that interfere with your progress, and immediately works with you to remove those stumbling blocks and proceed with your stated goals.

Isn't this the same as therapy?  In a word, no.  Therapy is a very powerful set of experiences that may become necessary when we find that we encounter the same stumbling blocks over and over again.  Therapy is a corrective experience, designed to help heal past wounds.  People who use a life coach may come to find that they desire therapy, and certainly people in therapy may want to make use of a life coach. (But they should not be the same person at the same time). 

Most people who seek life coaching consider themselves to be functioning well, without psychological issues that are interfering in their lives, such as anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, or other symptoms.  Rather, people seek coaching when life is going well, but there is a wish to expand their lives, their careers and their general well-being.  People seek coaching when they feel that they could be even more successful, and wish to have someone to work with them to help them achieve what is still missing.  This may be a very specific goal, such as increasing business revenue or personal relationship skills, or a more wide-ranging goal, such as determining how to turn one's life around in order to achieve more balance between the personal, emotional, relational and spiritual.

How does life coaching work?  Life coaching has really come of age since e-mail has become popular.  Many people work with coaches they have never met personally, via e-mail, personal telephone calls, and group conference calls.  However, if you prefer to meet in person, as many people do, regular sessions can be scheduled.

A coaching session may last from 30-50 minutes, or more if desired.  Coaching clients may want to meet weekly, monthly, or on a varied schedule.  You may want to pay for coaching sessions as they are scheduled, or buy a block of time to be used as needed within a certain period.  In other words, you are in charge of your coaching relationship.  Your coach is there as a facilitator, to help you accomplish your stated goals.  At your first session, your coach will help you define your goals.  Most coaching clients come in stating fairly clearly what they want to accomplish, and if necessary this is refined further.  Along with that will come a definition of desired outcomes.  As with any goal-defined journey, you have to know where you are going in order to get there.  Your coach may provide specific tools that will help you, and will certainly give observations and feedback about those stumbling blocks that may appear.  You may work on and accomplish one stated goal and feel finished, or you may then decide to define a new goal and work on that.  It's completely up to you!

Deborah Tucker has been a licensed therapist for 22 years, and is now expanding her practice to accept life-coaching clients. Please call her for more information, or visit her website at

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