What Does a Life Coach Do?

Published by Riley on

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Ever found yourself wondering, “What does a life coach do?”

Well, like a typical life coach, let me answer your question with more questions:

If you were completely unbound, what would your life look like?

Where would you go?

What would you say?

Who would you meet?

These are questions that a powerful life coach can help you not only answer, but bring those dreams into action.

You might have heard of life coaching before, but there’s a lot of misconception about what life coaching actually is.

So, let’s take a closer look at what life coaching is, what life coaching ISN’T, and how a powerful coaching experience can change your life.

What Is Life Coaching?

Put simply, life coaching is a professional relationship that empowers a client to find their own direction and take clearly defined action steps toward their goals.

We’ll get into the details of what a coaching session might look like later, but first, let’s get clear on what life coaching isn’t.

Life Coaching Is Not Therapy

Since a coach learns a lot about their client’s hopes, fears, strengths, and struggles, it may be tempting to compare life coaching to therapy.

But they are in fact very different, in some pretty important ways!

A therapist works with a client’s feelings and thought patterns, examining past traumas to treat present mental health challenges.

A life coach is not a therapist!

While a coach may examine your thoughts and feelings in order to better understand where you’re at with your goals, it is outside the realm of coaching to diagnose or treat any mental illnesses or disorders.

Where therapy often focuses on healing from the past, coaching emphasizes creating the future.

Life Coaching Is Not Mentoring

A life coach is not an expert on your goals.

YOU are!

The role of a life coach is to help the client get clear about what they want and how they’re going to get there.

Where a mentor would lead, giving advice on what the mentored person should do next, a life coach lets the client lead.

Think of it more as a partnership; a life coach is not an authority figure, but rather someone who is by your side as you discover your own potential.

A Good Life Coach Will Not Tell You What To Do With Your Life

A coach doesn’t tell their client what to do, but instead helps the client find their own solutions.

A good coach empowers their client by asking pointed questions and holding the client to their own values and goals, not giving orders and creating a new life for the client according to the coach’s own ideas.

The power to change your life lies in YOU, and that’s what a coach is there to help you realize.

At the end of the day, as a coach, I want my clients to be able to look back and say, “I changed my own life. I did that!”

So that when the coaching relationship comes to an end, the client is able to step boldly into their own future and know that they are capable of living life by THEIR design.

So Then… What DOES a Life Coach Do?

What does a life coach do?

Listen attentively, and ask powerful questions.

It’s that simple. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

A life coach is trained to notice patterns, identifying which topics their client might need to dig a little deeper into.

Where the client may be too close to the situation to look at it objectively, the coach can sit back and listen and say something like:

“Hey, I keep hearing you say, ‘I can’t; I don’t know how,’ every time we talk about your goal. It sounds like there might be a fear of uncertainty that’s been holding you back from really pursuing this exciting goal. How can we tackle that fear of uncertainty?”

Of course, in a real session, there’d be more specifics to work with.

Maybe the client wants to become a full-time artist, but doesn’t know where to begin.

The coach will nail down every aspect of that uncertainty until the client is out of excuses.

It’s a bit like a toddler following up every answer to their question with an additional “Why?”*

*A good coach will avoid the word “why” wherever possible; it tends to put clients on the defensive. The best coaching questions will provoke a client to confront their discomfort, but won’t make them feel shamed, judged, or accused. Coaches learn early on to be very mindful of how we word things, because there is power in language!

Through powerful (and mindful) questioning, a coach will poke and prod at the client’s inner world until the client unlocks what it is that’s truly holding them back.

A life coach will also celebrate each step along the way, after helping the client identify the steps they need to take to achieve their goal.

Your life coach is your biggest cheerleader, pushing you through to your ultimate victory.

We believe in you, and we will challenge you to believe in yourself!

Is Life Coaching Legit?

Look, let’s not dance around it: Life coaching is an unregulated industry.

There is no certification or licensing required; anyone can call themselves a life coach.

With anyone being free to run around offering various services and smacking the “life coaching” label on it, it’s understandable that there’s some confusion on what life coaching is, and whether it can actually help people.

Is Life Coaching a Scam?

Anyone can call themselves a life coach.

Some people are very good at using their charismatic personality to draw in followers, lifting them up during emotion-heavy (and expensive) conferences while not really adding lasting value to their lives.

A scammer can pretend to be a life coach, but that doesn’t mean life coaching is a scam altogether.

One way to avoid being manipulated by power- and money-hungry “life coaches” is to do your research and be picky about the coach you work with!

In fact, a good life coach will be just as picky about the clients they choose to take on.

A coach who grabs onto any potential client and shows more concern for getting paid than actually connecting with their client is a red flag.

As with almost everything else in life, people should always come before profit!

How to Find the Right Life Coach for You

If you’re looking for a life coach and want to make sure you’re investing in someone who will invest in you, do some research!

Check their website and pay attention to how they describe their life coaching style.

Read any reviews that might be featured to see if their past clients have been similar to you, or even ask them for references!

Many coaches offer consultation sessions, so you can get to know each other and determine if you’re a good fit.

Some coaches might be great at what they do, but if your personalities don’t mesh well, it’ll be hard to establish a good coaching/client relationship.

So… Is Coaching Actually Helpful?

That’s up to the client, and whether they’ve been paired with a coach who can meet their coaching needs!

This is why I don’t just take on any client without a consultation, to determine if I’m the right coach for you.

A coaching relationship is a relationship (albeit a professional one); it requires that both coach and client can communicate comfortably and have a mutual respect for each other.

With that in place, along with regular re-assessments throughout the coaching relationship, a coach can empower a client to not just name their goals, but reach them.

Do Life Coaches Need to be Certified?

Many life coaches pursue professional training and receive a certificate to back up their skills.

Does a coach need to be certified to be good? Not at all!

There are plenty of coaches who are self-taught and have a natural knack for helping people draw answers out of themselves.

Good coaches can come from any background; it’s just about finding one who will best fit your particular coaching needs!

Now, what’s a session actually like?

Well, that depends on the coach (and the client)!

What Is a Life Coaching Session Like?

Each coach has their own unique approach to the life coaching process.

So, it’s hard to say what a life coaching sessions is like – they’re not all One Size Fits All!

Most coaches who do 1:1 coaching offer sessions between 30 minutes to an hour, and they focus on a particular goal with their client.

Here are some key elements of an effective coaching session:

  • Sessions are client-led.
    • Coaching is all about the client’s perspectives and choices, not what the coach thinks the client should do. A good life coach will start a session by asking the client what they’d like to focus on for the session, and follow their lead!
  • Sessions dive into the client’s thoughts and goals.
    • Through powerful questioning and active listening, a coach will help their client navigate their own psyche, uncovering wants and needs, strengths and challenges, and anything else necessary to empower the client to reach their goals.
  • Sessions produce action steps.
    • It’s common for a session to conclude with an assignment for the client to complete before the next session. This should be agreed upon by the client and the coach, and preferably be the client’s own idea. I often end a session by asking my clients, “So, what do you think would be a good homework assignment for you this week?”
  • Sessions measure (and celebrate) progress.
    • An important part of any goal-oriented journey is celebrating milestones along the way! Together, a coach and client will measure progress toward the goal, and evaluate how the pace is serving the client and whether any adjustments would be beneficial.

How Much Does Life Coaching Cost?

So how much does life coaching cost?

Well, it varies widely, but the average life coaching cost per session is $130.

Depending on your financial situation, you might be thinking…

Why Is Life Coaching So Expensive?!

One of my first thoughts when researching life coach costs was “Why do life coaches charge so much?!”

As someone who grew up shopping at dollar stores and struggling to afford rent and other necessities in my adult life, coaching was completely inaccessible.

So… why is life coaching so expensive?

For one thing, a lot of coaching programs cost hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, so coaches probably want to feel that their investment is paying off after their certification.

Another reason life coach fees can be so expensive is that some coaches want to narrow down their clientele, and keeping their services limited to people who are already in a particular place financially might better align with their niche.

(Mostly) Shameless Marketing Break!

If you’re looking for low cost life coaching, check out my coaching page to find out more about my services!

As an authenticity-focused coach, my values are at the forefront of my coaching business.

I truly believe in the transformative power of life coaching, and I want to help make coaching more accessible to people outside of higher income brackets.

My current rate is $33 per session, with a discounted rate for return clients if you book 4 sessions in advance!

I’m not going to pretend that $100/month is affordable for everyone, but given that many coaches are charging that much or more for a single session, I’m hoping this will even the playing field a little bit.

This is the price range that I feel is most fair in terms of creating a living wage for me while providing low cost coaching for my clients.

But if you’re not in the market for a coach (or can’t afford one right now – totally understandable!), I do my best to provide FREE resources for self coaching on my blog!

I believe that the world needs more people who are confident in their personal values, and that confident and content people create a brighter future for us all.

So dive in deep, however you can, and get to know the fullest version of YOU!

Is Life Coaching Worth It?

This is a tough one, because a lot of it comes down to you – the client!

Life coaching isn’t therapy, but one way it’s similar is that if a client isn’t willing to show up for themselves and face tough questions head-on, there isn’t much a coach or therapist can do for them.

If you bring your whole self, with all the fears and uncertainties and prior failures and setbacks, a good coach will help you uncover the patterns that hold you back from your ideal life.

But you’ve got to be willing to face that fear, to push past the barriers to your success (however you define “success”).

That requires quite a bit of vulnerability!

Not just with yourself, but with a virtual stranger.

This is why choosing a coach you really click with is so important.

Speaking from experience, pursuing a new goal can be really scary!

It’s almost embarrassing sometimes, when you feel like the people in your life don’t really believe in you when you share your highest hopes and dreams.

A coach won’t roll their eyes when you share this piece of your soul with them.

They’ll never judge you for having switched majors three times already, or quitting that high-paying job, or leaving that unfulfilling relationship.

Your past is in the past, and a coach will help you ensure that old patterns don’t hold you back from your future.

A life coach is here to listen, and say, “I see that in you. I see that potential. I believe you’re capable of all that, and so much more!”

So, Is Life Coaching Worth It?

Well, it depends on how much room you have in your budget, and whether you can find a coach in your price range!

I don’t recommend life coaching to anyone struggling to pay bills.

On the hierarchy of needs, food and housing come before anything else! (If that’s where you’re at – believe me, I’ve been there – try being your own coach with these life goal questions!)

But if coaching is something you can afford, I believe it’s extremely beneficial for anyone with any kind of goal, provided you’re matched with the right coach.

Of course, I’m biased. I’m a certified life coach, myself.

But I truly believe that the world would be better off if more people were empowered to be in touch with the fullest expression of themselves.

Whether you’re in the market for a life coach or not, I wish you the very best in whatever goals you’re currently working on.

May happiness and fulfillment follow you wherever you go.


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Riley, he/they pronouns

Life coaches help you meet the most authentic version of yourself. Here are some ways to do that on your own!

Looking for a complete guide to getting to know yourself? I’ve got ya covered!


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