Levern Darrell Scippio
Life Coaching | The Definitive Definition
Updated: Mar 1
What is a Life Coach (Lifecoach)?
A Life Coach (Lifecoach) is a paid professional who uses their acquired experiences, skills, & expertise to advise people how to identify goals, create an action plan, & overcome obstacles in areas of relationships, career, health & wellness, business, & daily personal life with the intent of a more advantageous future.
Life Coaching is about teaching you to manage your time, skills, habits, and experience to achieve the best quality of life. A lot of things have happened to you during your life so far. You have gone through ups & downs, bad & good times. You have managed to make it this far, but maybe you feel lost. Maybe you are lacking confidence or the right type of motivation. Possibly you feel like you are running in place or spend way too much time scrolling through your phone. You know there is something more productive you should be doing or perhaps, you have it all together and want to help people achieve what you have been able to accomplish.
Whether you are considering a career as a Life Coach or looking to hire one, understanding the training, certifications, services offered, cost to hire one, and how much can a life coach make should be of interest to you. If you are like me, having a clearly defined definition of what something is, is of importance before committing to it. I want to share with you some of the ideas, concepts, and philosophies I have developed on my path to becoming a Life Coach. If you have ever had questions about this profession, I hope you find this article interesting, informative, and entertaining.
What is the difference between a Life Coach, Counselor, Therapist, Psychologist & Psychiatrist?
First, I want to get out of the way, what a Life Coach does not do. A Life Coach is not in the mental health care industry. Some mental health care provider calls themselves Life Coaches, but that means they are providing two very different services.
A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor (MD). They graduate from medical school, have a year of medical internship, and have three years of residency in the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are trained to talk with their patients about their problems (psychotherapy). Psychiatrists focus on biology and neurochemistry. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication because of their medical training.
A Psychologist is not a Medical Doctor (MD). Psychologists study the mind and human behavior. Psychologists have a doctoral degree. They also can have a Ph.D. in philosophy or a PsyD in clinical or counseling psychology where they do 1-2 years of internship. They are trained in giving psychological tests (like IQ tests or personality tests). Psychologists, like psychiatrists, are typically trained to practice psychotherapy as well.
Therapist & Counselor are broad terms use for professionals that are trained to provide practical treatment and rehabilitation. Some therapists do not treat mental health disorders. A therapist generally does not diagnose disorders or disabilities. They provide guidance and support to help their clients deal with their feelings, make decisions, and deal with any trauma caused by past experiences.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) gives a list of mental health disorders, which include (but are not limited to) stress, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, phobias, bipolar disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, among others. Mental health disorders and disabilities are treated by psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists.
Life Coaches do not diagnose or treat any mental disorders, illnesses, or disabilities. They focus on your goals. Life is made up of little individual moments, and we help you plan for the success of those moments. A trustworthy life coach will not attempt to work with someone who requires help that we are not trained to provide.
If you feel you require treatment for any of these mental health issues, please contact The American Psychological Association (APA) to find a professional mental health care center near you.
An Examination of Words, Life & Coach
Socrates stated that "The unexamined life is not worth living for human beings". Being a teacher and one of the founders of Western philosophy, he understood the importance of clearly defining definitive within an explanation. Next, I want to do just that by reviewing and defining what is ‘Life’ and ‘Coach’ plus outlining their place in the mind of a Life Coach.
Long before ever seeing the words, Life & Coach side by side, I understood what they meant when existed apart. Being able to classify the gravity each of these words has in our vocabulary helped me appreciate the significance when they are together. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What can we determine from analyzing each one alone?
Wikipedia describes ‘Life’ as “a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate.”
Merriam-Webster.com defines ‘Life’ to be “The sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual”.
My personal favorite, The Cambridge English Dictionary, refers to ‘Life’ as “the period between birth and death, or the experience or state of being alive.”
In all these definitions, it is construed that there are perceived experiences that exist for a finite amount of time. As predominantly rational creatures, we try our best to control or manage our reactions to the experiences that take place within our daily lives. Unfortunately, sometimes we are held captive by bad habits that have been acquired at a young age. This occurrence generates a "need" for us to modify our reactions and habits. Once that happens, the "need" for a coach to guide us through the process of creating new habits now has a reason to become a part of our experience.
Merriam-Webster.com defines a coach, “one who instructs or trains.”
A coach helps us to develop the habits and skills needed to perform and succeed in a sport, a test, or in this case, ‘Life.’ Coaches are typically experienced in a particular area of expertise, but in rare cases, they guide a multitude of different skill sets. Regardless of mastery, all coaches focus on putting in place a process that creates actionable goals for achievable results.
Most notably, coaches are known for training groups or individuals to win at sporting events, but coaches work in many different service industries. Coaching takes place in the performing arts where singers get vocal, acting, or drama coaches help them deliver a more memorable performance. Some coaches focus on business, education, health care, and relationships, or even dating. Coaching may happen in informal situations, or settings between two people, one of whom have cultivated a more keen insight and expertise than the other, but there are times when larger groups are coached in a professional business setting as well. In any case, a coach would put together a game plan aimed at achieving success in a specific task or set of objectives for the benefit of a team or individual.
Ultimately, Life Coaches transform the existence of the person or persons being coached by teaching new habits that benefit the client's future experience. The habits that are developed will also affect the lives of the people that the client interacts with as well. So, Life Coaches are not just developing one person, but in a small way, every person their client will encounter for the rest of their life. It becomes a plan of evolution.
What qualifications do you need to be a life coach?
There is no such thing as a Certified Life Coach. Life coaching is a non-regulated industry. There is not a governing organization over the profession of being a Life Coach. There is not a degree, nor a license required to be a life coach. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not require any formal education for an individual to list themselves as a Life Coach. There are not any local, state, or federal licenses or certifications Life Coaches are required to attain before practicing their craft.
Academic institutions (such as Universities) are accredited by a governing body. Organizations providing Life Coaching certifications do not need to be accredited because no accrediting institution exists in the field of life coaching. Aspiring Life Coaches can choose to take a course or earn degrees in Life Coaching, but these courses or degrees are not accredited under any governing body.
There are requirements associated with calling yourself a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist because a governing body exists and is regulated through an official license or certification.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers three credentials if you desire to have a stamp of approval to verify that you have been coached on how to coach. They allow you to attach their designation to your name if you maintain membership and complete the continuing education guidelines.
Becoming certified with the ICF does help if clients are looking for the security of knowing their Life Coach had some type of training, but many jobs provide excellent training to sales professionals and team managers to coach their subordinates properly. Those skills can be used to transition easily and effectively into the Life Coaching profession.
Why become a Life Coach?
Merging these two words allows dedicated coaches to devote themselves to a “noble” career where they will not only be personally fulfilled but can also help others to find their purpose in life. Every Life Coach should have a strong reason “why” they have committed to taking on the endeavor of helping another person live a life better than they do right now.
Motivational Speakers / Life Coaches like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and Les Brown have worked with thousands of people to bring about meaningful change to their lives. Many CEOs, entrepreneurs, business leaders, executives, and business professionals use Life Coaches to enrich their current situation, but the homeless, unemployed, and disenfranchised also deserve mercy and help to advance their current circumstances as well. It is easy to get caught up in the money that can be made by coaching people already in the upper echelon of society, but the people that need the services of a Life Coach are the ones who may not be able to afford to pay thousands of dollars for courses, events, and retreats.
For me, becoming a Life Coach is a very personal choice. From being bullied throughout middle school, feeling like an outcast during my teenage years, ultimately being diagnosed with mild depression in my early twenties, I felt the need to plan my way to a better life. At first, I had no clue what that meant. I read self-help books, studied different religious groups, but the only thing that helped was to search within myself. That lead me to create Hugh Mann Development, a Life Coaching, Image Consulting, Personal and Business Branding company focused on generating ideas about self-worth, empathy, and getting the most out of life. This is my “why.” You must find yours.
There are many individuals in social problems affecting the world today. Maybe you will help individuals and families affected by homelessness, coaching orphans on integrating into society, or help a client to re-enter the workforce after graduating from college or a period of unemployment but, there is always an underdog fighting to get back to even.
As of Oct 12th, 2020, approximately 12.6 million Americans are unemployed, and even though that number is shrinking, many of them will have to find jobs in different industries. The unprecedented number of businesses claiming bankruptcy or dramatically reducing their staff due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is growing. These people are going to have to find a way to distinguish themselves from each other once the economy begins to rebound after this global crisis.
Presenting themselves through resumes, social media, and face to face or virtual interviews can be a daunting task. In a time where your online image is just as important as a first impression having someone to help navigate that environment and managing that “image” can considerably impact their future.
Many human resources managers and staffing agencies review Linkedin, Facebook, and Google search results alongside employment sites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor when looking for the best candidate. Having someone that can assist with creating a profile, resume and post can make a world of difference when making a career change for a better opportunity. Are you going to be the one to help them?
Why hire a Life Coach?
Here are 7 reasons why you would want to.
Do you have it all together? You know exactly where you want to be in the next one, three, five, or ten years. You know what steps you need to take and are never unmotivated or distracted. Your plan is flawless. If that is the case, then maybe you should be a Life Coach and help people achieve what you have been able to. Otherwise, if you are like most of us, you could find value in working with a Life Coach. Are you ready to hire a coach of your own? If you are unsure, here is a list of 7 reasons you will want to:
1. Your life has taken a turn for the worse
Have you been fired? Has your business failed? Your husband or wife has recently passed away. Grief can take hold of our lives, and it usually comes when we least expect it. Attempting to navigate these times without a plan forward can cause to spend more time in despair than needed. A Life Coach will help you get past the grief and to a life you want.
2. You need to be motivated
How do you act without a plan? Are you unsure of what your next move should be? Are you afraid of failing? Do you need someone to motivate you to make that next move? Are your obstacles holding you back? Change is necessary to move from one phase to the next. A Life Coach will know when to push you out of your comfort zone and know how to help you reveal things you did not know were there. Either way, they will get you started.
3. You need help managing your time
“Do not squander time. That is the stuff life is made of.” — Gone With the Wind. Have you ever wished you have more time? How do you prioritize tasks? How do you limit distractions? How do you manage deadlines?
Time is always something we wish we had more of. A Life Coach cannot add more hours in a day, but they can help you manage the 24 hours everyone is given more effectively.
4. You want to accomplish a high level of success.
Do you frequently become distracted? Do you have difficulty staying on task? How do you work when you are overwhelmed? What support do you need to achieve your goals? Accomplishing a goal provides you with a sense of fulfillment. A Life Coach will work with you to set achievable, attainable goals, so you become more comfortable seeking bigger and loftier pursuits.
5. You need help seeing your future more clearly.
What are the things you are most passionate about? What are your goals in life? What do you not like to do? What are you doing today to move you toward your dreams? Sometimes you do not know the right questions to ask yourself to get the answer that will give you a sense of clarity, but your life coach does.
6. You are not holding yourself accountable.
Does anyone provide you with productive, constructive feedback? Do you keep track of your goals? How often do you update your milestones? Do you have a personal mission statement? A Life Coach can hold your feet to the fire. Just like a manager, they can set goals, provide feedback, and expect a certain level of performance. If it has not been attained, there can be agreed upon disciplinary action.
7. You do not believe in yourself.
Do you not like what you see when you look in the mirror? Do you think you are not enough? Are you scared of expressing yourself? Are you controlled by your fear of what people think about you? A Life Coach can provide consulting, training, and guidance that will allow you to see yourself in a different light.
What should you expect from a life coach?
A Life Coach can help you achieve in many different niche areas. They support and consult clients on a range of personal and professional issues. Although a Life coach may sit down and listen to your thoughts and ideas, they are fundamentally different from therapists and psychologists since they do not diagnose illness, disease, or state of mind. Instead, they are hired to help clients set goals, personally and professionally, and create plans to help them move from one phase in life to the next, productively, and successfully. A Life Coach pushes you to progress by assessing where you are in life, identifying your current strengths and weakness, and challenge you to overcome obstacles that are holding you back. Life Coaches help you focus on the best possible achievable outcomes for your life.
Types of Life Coaches
There are many types of Life Coaches. Here is a shortlist of the most popular.
Fitness, Health & Wellness
Daily Personal Life
Here are some of the specific services they offer:
Professional and Personal Development Goals
Developing a routine for Time Management
Communication Skills and Techniques
Social Media Management and Optimization
Motivational Speaking Events
Self Esteem Building
These services can provide clients with a higher quality of life through:
Defining a vision for success
Creating professional and personal development plans
Communicating more effectively
Achieving Health and Fitness goals