Meet the Coach: How Life Coaching Works

Previously we discussed what therapy is and how it overlaps with life coaching. Now we’ll take a look at what life coaching is all about. A life coach provides guidance and resources, helping the client understand his or her motivation or lack of motivation and how change works. When we change, we follow common stages of change (academically referred to as the Transtheoretical Model of Change).

When we are in need of change, we start these stages unaware of that need (pre-contemplation stage). We gradually begin to consider our need for change, think about the problem, and grow in motivation (contemplation stage). Sooner or later, we begin preparing for change, creating a plan (preparation stage). We may not yet be ready for action, but we lay the groundwork in these stages.

When we feel ready, the action stage begins. Steps may be taken with great energy. People may ask, “what took so long?” This was part of a normal process. If action is taken too soon, we may fall back prematurely and not make the progress intended.

Intense action can only last so long before the focus shifts from radical change to maintaining the ground covered (maintenance stage). Excitement may wane; motivation may decrease. You might fall back into old habits, returning to the pre-contemplation stage and repeat the cycle or you’ll remain consistent and not return to the old behavior.

The first time around, latter is rare. It is much more common to experience the stages again and again as a cycle that spirals upward towards the ideal life. Knowing this can help protect you from discouragement.

Life coaching is future focused. Considering these stages, the life coach will help you gain awareness during the contemplation stage; help make the plan, considering the obstacles in the preparation stage; support, encourage and celebrate with you during the action stage; and help you keep perspective and energy during the maintenance stage. Should you return to the pre-contemplation stage, the life coach is available, to remind you that change takes time, you have what it takes to pick up and try again.

When you sit down with a life coach, you’ll share what is happening in your life and what brought you to life coaching. The focus shifts to developing your vision of an ideal life. Next, the life coach will work with you to develop SMART goals to get you there. As sessions continue, the life coach helps keep you accountable to the goals you’ve develop, acts as a sounding board for new ideas, and provide support, encouragement, and trouble shooting as needed. It can focus on personal, relational or professional goals. It picks up where therapy leaves off, or supplements the therapeutic efforts without involving insurance companies.

Life coaching is a great option for want to stay future and solution-focused and for those who have not experience past trauma. Like therapy, sessions take place individually or in groups. It can be in person, over the phone, or online.

It is different from working with a consultant, who tells you what you should do. It is different from working with a mentor who becomes part of your life. The life coach stands a part from stay objective, helps you sort through resources and information, using the art of life coaching to make recommendations of what would work best for you. You don’t have to work alone.

The duration for life coaching varies by client needs. You may have a time bound change you are working through, such as moving homes or finding a new job, and need help managing stress and meeting goals. You may have many goals you want to achieve that cover broad categories. You move from one area to the next with your life coach. Services can range from a few months to over a year, depending on these factors.


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