What Does a Life Coach Do?

You could ask this question to ten different people and get ten different answers. There are so many different life coaching approaches and modalities that appeared and evolved over the past couple of decades or so, and many more are popping up and probably will continue to do so. Life coaching is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world, but when did it all start?

Coaching started in the late ’90s and there were mainly two types of coaching then, personal coaching and executive coaching. During the economic recession of 2008, a lot of people suffered from financial difficulties and didn’t know how to manage their finances. That gave rise to the new profession of financial advising. People would hire a financial advisor (or coach) to help them get out of debt and come up with solutions to their financial problems. People started to see the potential for this kind of work and new types of coaching started to appear. Coaching started to be applied to every aspect of our lives such as finances, health, education, career,  relationships, team coaching, executive coaching and so many more.

Coaching is different from counseling or therapy in many ways, but in a nutshell, coaching looks at where you are in your life and helps you go where you want to go in the future. Therapy looks at your past and helps you understand how you got to where you are today, then helps you heal any unprocessed trauma or issues from your past. A coach doesn’t have the answers. Rather your coach helps you find your own answers. A mentor or a consultant, on the other hand, has certain knowledge or expertise and is hired to give you that knowledge.

One of the first people to call herself a coach was Laura Whitworth, who co-founded the co-active training institute with Karen and Henry Kimsey-House and co-authored the book “Co-Active Coaching,” Which is used as a textbook in colleges and universities in the US.

In this book, the authors explain how a coach is a partner on an unexpected journey. Your coach is not someone who holds your hand and walks with you while feeling worried about you or afraid for you. Your coach walks alongside you as an equal, a friend who sees the greatness in you even when you don’t see it yourself. Your coach shows you the potential and possibilities in any situation and helps you find your own answers.

How does your coach help you find your answers?

  • By holding you as creative, resourceful, and whole.

  • By asking you powerful questions.

  • By showing you a snapshot of where you are in your life at the time of coaching.

  • By helping you explore your values and what is important to you.

  • By helping you find your purpose in life.

  • By guiding you to delve deeper into yourself and meet the various parts of you that you might have not yet met.

  • By helping you identify the negative voices in your head.

  • By helping you set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.)

  • By following specific exercises and processes with you that are designed to help you see potential and possibilities in every situation.

Not only does your life coach help you to find answers and see the possibilities in your experience. They also take you to a place from which you can generate solutions and decide on specific steps to take in order to change your situation, start that new project, change jobs, get out of being stuck in your life. Next, they will hold accountability for you. What that means is that at the end of every coaching session your coach will ask you “When will you do it?” and “How will you let me know?” That gives your brain a point in time to focus on. You will start taking steps because you know that in a week or two weeks’ time you have to report back to your coach and let them know what you’ve done. Our brains work best when they have a clear mission and a deadline, and that is what you agree on with your coach.

In summary, a life coach is an ally, who walks alongside you and supports you to live the best life you could possibly live by using some powerful tools to find specific action steps that you need to take in order to reach your goals, and by holding you accountable to carry out those steps. A life coach helps you see where you are right now, and where you want to go and goes on that unexpected journey with you.

Bushra Dudeen


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