Life coaching is one of those things that we hear about on TV and in the press and laugh at, thinking to ourselves how ridiculous people are that need such a thing. If you look into it further, however, you might be surprised at how useful a little life coaching can be.
Put simply, life coaches take techniques from psychology, counselling and mentoring, and combine them to help clients achieve their goals. Some examples of the techniques used include behaviour modification and goal-setting, although almost any technique can be brought in if the coach believes it will be helpful. The coach’s most important role is to simply listen to what their client has to say, and help them work through the problems that are standing between them and their goals.
Life coaches are much-criticised from some quarters, mainly because it is not an official profession. You don’t need any kind of education or qualifications to become a life coach – you can pretty much just start putting up posters, asking for money and doing what you want with the people who call you. Critics say that life coaching basically amounts to practicing psychotherapy without any code of ethics or organising body.
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However, one organisation, the International Coach Federation, is attempting to fix this situation by introducing certification and standards for life coaches. There are several levels of ICF certified coach status, each one dependent on you having completed a certain number of hours of study and of coaching experience. However, many feel this to be counter-intuitive, as it is impossible to become a certified coach at all until you have completed 100 hours of coaching – hardly fair if you expect people to only seek coaching from certified coaches.
Ultimately, if you are thinking of hiring a life coach, it is up to you to be cautious of who you take on. Meet them first, and be cautious of any attempts to manipulate you or force you into anything. Respond only to legitimate-looking advertisements, and insist on references from their previous clients. Ideally, get a life coach that someone you know has previously dealt with and liked, as that will always be the best option.