Life coaching is a relatively new profession, though coaches have long existed as trainers, instructors, managers, and tutors for various jobs and disciplines. Life coaching is difficult to define, but it is a mentoring that focuses on assisting individuals in achieving their goals and thus leading more fulfilling lives. Unlike other types of coaching, it occurs outside the workplace and addresses all aspects of a person’s life.
People seek the services of life coaches for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish. They may know they want to change something but are unsure what it is. They may be dissatisfied with their lives. It could be something the coach has dealt with previously or something completely new. A coach must determine what the person requires assistance with and whether they can assist them.
A coach must determine whether or not they can assist a client. As previously stated, there may be reasons why the coach does not believe they can help the client, such as personality clashes. Before the client and coach decide whether they can work together, a life coach will need to speak with the client in an initial interview. To reach this conclusion, the coach may:
- Interview the client to understand better what they want and how achievable their goals are. During the interview, they may also use observational data such as body language, tone of voice, physical appearance, etc.\
- Request that they complete a questionnaire, either a general lifestyle questionnaire or one about a specific topic, such as self-esteem. A questionnaire could also be used as a pre-interview screening tool.
- Examine their health – To get a better picture, you might want to know the client’s medical and psychological history, such as whether or not they are taking any medication. (This may affect their ability to exercise, their diet, their concentration, and so on), have they had or do they have a mental health disorder? (Which could affect their sleeping patterns, self-confidence, anxiety levels, and so on), have they been injured in any way that affects their motor skills, and so on?
- Examine the client’s past experiences to see if they have any that will help them achieve their goals.
- Consider your own experiences and similar cases – will you be able to help the client if you have no everyday experiences with them in the area where they seek help, or if you have had no similar cases? (You could, but you should think about it carefully.)
- Consider your own experiences: will they harm your work and, thus, the coaching session? For example, suppose you have had a negative experience similar to what your client is going through. In that case, you may have an emotional reaction to their situation and thus be unable to support them effectively.
Suppose a life coach is unable to assist the client. In that case, they should refer them to another coach or professional who may be able to help. Clients are not always forthcoming about their real issues, so a life coach must elicit as much information as possible to assist them.