A life coach is a professional who first develops a relationship with their client and then coaches them to achieve their full potential in life. While many people envision coaches as teachers who push students and professional athletes to win, there are coaches who offer personal and business coaches to help people succeed in the game called life.
Life coaches are more than just professionals who talk to people. They can be life consultants, counselors, motivational speakers, and even the person’s friend. Anyone working in this line of work needs to be able to connect with individuals and help them make the hardest life decisions all while being encouraging. Here is how someone would become a coach of life:
Possess the Right Inherent Skills
Some qualities come naturally and other skills have to be developed in an educational program. Before anyone enters into a certification or college degree program, they need to really assess their inherent qualities to see if they have what it takes to succeed in the unique field of life coaching. Some qualities that all life coaching professionals need include:
- Emotional intelligence
- Innovative thinker
- Open to change
- Inquiring mind
What Does a Life Coach Do?
The life coach’s skill sets are many. However, the general goal of their work is to help their clients navigate the lives, particularly when the clients’ lives have become confusing. They help their clients make goals and to reach them. They may also encourage their clients to modify their behavior so that it’s possible for the client to reach his or her goals, no matter how trying the process becomes. Coaches will also evaluate a client’s progress in relation to that client’s life goals.
Differences Between Being a Life Coach and a Therapist
The term “life coach” is actually an umbrella term just as “therapist” is an umbrella term. Truth be told, life coaches have areas of expertise just as therapists do. Coaches may also be more focused on helping their clients get immediate results. It isn’t that a therapist doesn’t help his or her clients get results. It’s just that the process of getting the results may take longer with therapy.
It’s also important to note that counselors or psychologists – they work under both of these professional titles – must obtain licensing in the states they work in. These professionals also have to hold advanced degrees. Most have at least a master’s degree. Many also hold doctoral degrees.
Their work involves delving into your past and your unconscious to help you gain a deeper understanding of your moods and behaviors and of your thoughts and the way your thoughts influence your moods and behaviors.
The life coaching profession is relatively new compared to psychotherapy. As such, it has no regulation requirements. Technically, it also has no degree requirements, though many people who become life coaches do get degrees in addition to their coaching certificates. These degree programs provide them with more training in their field.
The degrees may not be a life coach degree per se, but the degree is often necessary for their work. It provides coaches with the foundation to help, teach and motivate their clients. The degree also allows coaches to become subject matter experts in the fields they coach.
It’s also important to mention that many counselors and psychologists branch out professionally by offering coaching services as well. For many therapists-turned-coaches, this is a good combination. It combines the therapist’s ability to help clients to find emotional resolutions to their problems. From there, the therapist-turned coach can help the client create newer, healthier goals.
Additionally, some coaching clients will turn to life coaches when they want an accountability partner in their lives. For them, their coach pushes them to set and achieve their goals. The coach becomes their cheerleader when life gets difficult and provides them with strategies for overcoming the blocks that prevent them from acting on their plans.
While nearly every type of coaching client can benefit from having an accountability partner, some clients may find this aspect of coaching particularly helpful. People who face addiction may appreciate the coach who helps them stay sober. Others who may be on a weight loss journey may also need their coach to help them stand up to the inevitable temptations that arise from adding a new diet and exercise regimen to their routine.
That being said, there is no requirement that an aspiring life coach becomes a therapist first. Again, this is because coaches work a broad variety of industries, not all of them deal with personal psychology.
Life Coach Specializations
A life coach’s specialization gives him or her the opportunity to combine coaching with a beloved subject. While some life coaches have training as psychotherapists and counselors, not all life coaches specialize in the therapeutic arts. True enough, some coaching specialities, like marriage and family and mental health coaching are related to psychotherapy, others aren’t.
Here are some examples. A financial coach is someone who coaches their clients about money and its role in their lives. These coaches teach their clients how to manage their money for the long haul and help their clients to set and meet financial goals. In terms of the degrees they’d get, it’s likely they’d earn a degree in finance or accounting or another related subject.
Financial coaches may go on to get certified as financial planners or coaches. Some will get training in life coach training, which would allow them to show their clients how their financial decisions affect their whole lives. Clients who make better financial decisions often make better life decisions as well.
Career coaches guide people in all the stage of their careers. They encourage their clients to take a leap into a new career or to get additional training for their current career. A career coach may also help their clients decide if it’s the right time to retire.
In this respect, career coaches are life coaches because a person’s career affects his or her whole life. It can also affect a person’s health and mental well-being. In light of that, having someone who will help them to hone their talents and move into the next phase of their careers provides coaching clients with the perspective they need to make changes in their work lives.
Some life coaches deal with the spiritual side of things by becoming spiritual coaches. This topic is broad and can encompass many subjects within the main topic, which opens up additional coaching channels. For example, the practice of yoga or meditation can become the foundation of the spiritual life coach’s work. Religious studies and textual studies can also become the foundation of a life coaching business.
Those who have grappled with addictions may become life coaches who teach addicts how to become and remain sober. They’re uniquely qualified to give the addict advice on how to remain sober when life gets trying. These coaches may combine their knowledge of 12-step programs with a life coaching certification or degree.
Other life coaches specialize in peak performance. Tony Robbins is an example of a coach who teaches people about how to reach peak performance states. These coaches may combine training in several disciplines to make them more effective in their work. They might study psychology, neurolinguistic programming, meditation and more.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. It’s only intended to give aspiring life coaches a look at the possible career specializations that are available to them. The reality of the matter is it’s possible to become a coach in the art field, in the sciences, in technology, in marketing and more by combining the knowledge of these fields with the skills of a life coach. However, it’s also important to point out that many colleges and universities have started to offer four-year degrees in life coaching, so the possibilities for training in the field are quite broad now.
As much as someone might have a born-to-coach personality, that doesn’t mean that life coaches don’t need to complete training. Professionally, there are methodologies and ethical practices to learn in the life coaching arena that someone who is new to the field would need to train for. This is why there are training programs for prospective coaches who have an innate ability to connect with people.
Choose the Right Educational Path
There are plenty of training programs and paths that new coaches can take. All students need to choose an accredited program that is approved by a respected body like the International Coach Federation. The ICF is a global organization that helps professionals advance in the field and obtain certification. The ICF also accredits programs that offer coaches training so that students are prepared for certification.
When selecting an ICF-accredited training program, students should always consider the niche they’d like to target when they start taking on clients. In addition to content in a specialty area, the program will include the following courses:
- Coach Skills Training (at least 125 hours)
- Supervised coaching mentor hours (at least 6 sessions)
- Competency and Ethics Training
- A final exam
Additionally, because life coaching has become more popular, some colleges and universities, like Liberty University, Grand Canyon University and Regent University, have begun offering a life coach degree program, either at the undergraduate or graduate level. The advantages of these college-based programs are many. These programs also offer specialization tracks, like small business coaching, life balance coaching and more.
Students will take classes, like Ethical Issues in Psychology, Cultural and Social Psychology, Research Methods, Statistics, Organizational and Business Coaching and Introduction to Coaching. Coaches who would like to be a coach in a specific industry, like art therapy or finance, may want to take additional classes in these subjects.
Where Do Life Coaches Work?
Life coaches don’t have the restrictions that therapists do, meaning they don’t have to be licensed in a certain state in order to work. That being the case, they have plenty of options when it comes to where they work.
Some work within an organizational setting. They may share an office with a group of counselors, massage therapists or yoga teachers. Others work at home. Some will take clients from around the world: They communicate with them via technologies, like email, Zoom and social media groups. Many coaches will even meet their clients at their clients’ home, work or in coffee shops to make the coaching sessions more convenient for the client.
Getting credentialed is a great way for coaches to get more professional attention. Anyone who wants to attain clients who are serious about finding the right coach should check the credentialing paths. The International Coach Federal offers three different credentialing paths: Association Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach. Each has a different training and experience requirement.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Life Coach Degree
Anyone who wants to enter the life coaching profession doesn’t need to complete years and years of degree curriculum. Instead, there are accredited programs where all of the content is focused. Review the different options for life coach training and make a decision that will impact the futures of many.
Life coaches work in a number of industries. Because of this, they may require training in not only life coaching but the field they’ll work in. This training could include coursework in psychology, coaching, statistics and more. This training allows them to teach others about subjects that the life coach is passionate about, like technology, finance, art and more. This training, combined with the subjects they studied in their degree programs, allows them to expand their client reach and broaden their own work horizons as well.
Finally, while coaching and therapy are different but related fields, many people who have training as therapists and counselors opt to get additional training in life coaching. While they may not have a life coach degree, they may earn a life coach certificate. This allows them to tap into their training in psychology to help their clients even more.