What is a life coach?

Many people ask me: What is a life coach? What is it that you do as life coach? Let’s use this article to give some answers to these questions; what it is that I do as a life coach and what can people expect from a coaching session.

There are many different coaches out there. To name a few: personal coaches, mental coaches, team coaches, spiritual coaches, NLP coaches and executive coaches. Choosing the right coach can be an ordeal if you are not sure what to look for and what to expect.

Most coaches work in the business environment and the issues they work with are, most of the times, business related: How can I be a better team player, improve self-confidence, how can motivate myself better or how can I improve my leadership skills?

A life coach is different as the central theme a life coach works with is the client’s own life, and how to get the best out of it. This means I will not only coach business related issues but coach ones private life as well.

There are many definitions of what a life coach exactly does, but I believe the main goal is to make people more conscious and more authentic. More conscious of who they are. More conscious of the issues they face in life, what the root causes are and how to resolve them. More conscious of the relationships we have with others and how our own behavior affects everyone around us. I always compare this process with pealing an onion. You remove layer after layer until you reach the core, the authentic self.

Before I begin to coach a client, I always setup a pre-meeting to see if there is a good match between myself, as a coach, and the client. I also check what issue a client wants to resolve and if there is a deeper question or issue beneath it. Once the client agrees to have me as a coach, and I feel confident I am the right person to help and the client does not suffer from a mental illness, we will agree on the number of sessions and setup the first coaching session.

The coaching session

In a typical coaching session I will use the issue(s) the client wants to work with as guidance, but will work with anything that comes up during the session. Most clients deal with issues they are not consciously aware of. There is a good chance these issues will come up during coaching. Getting to the core of someone, the authentic self, means you need to acknowledge and work with everything, good or bad, that is stored in someone’s sub-conscious.

In essence, what I do is listening, using my empathic listening skills, and ask open question. This will facilitate the client’s own process. I also use a number of coaching tools, depending on the issue(s) at hand and what I think will work the best with a client. The most frequent coaching tools I use during a session are guided visualizations, NLP, Voice Dialogue, Body Drum Release (a simplified version of EMDR), RET, Transactional Analysis and body work. Sometimes I use tools like The Sedona Method or The Work (Byron Katie). All designed to make the client more independent, more conscious and more authentic.

Life coaching doesn’t limit itself to coaching sessions only; It’s an ongoing process. I always ask a client to send me a summary of the session, what issues came up and what it has brought him. Most of the times I give the client an extra assignment; which can mean writing one’s own biography, creating a list of goals, or doing something which is outside the clients comfort zone (this could be meeting new people of someone is shy and wants to overcome this).


Life coaching is not psychotherapy and certainly not a replacement for medical treatment. Let’s compare this with a tree. As long as the tree is still standing (and reasonable healthy), I can work with a client. If the tree has fallen down, then a client is better off seeing a specialist.

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