Self-help

Do You Need a Life Coach? Learn How They Can Help You Succeed

Have you ever felt like you could use a little extra support in life? Maybe you need help growing your business or working toward a relationship goal. This is where a life coach can be helpful. In 2023, the U.S. life coaching market was valued at $1.5 billion, up from $1.469 billion in 2022, and […]

therapist william snyder By William Snyder, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Have you ever felt like you could use a little extra support in life? Maybe you need help growing your business or working toward a relationship goal. This is where a life coach can be helpful. In 2023, the U.S. life coaching market was valued at $1.5 billion, up from $1.469 billion in 2022, and is projected to reach $2.1 billion in 2030. 

While life coaches are helpful, they are not a replacement for therapy and should be considered an additional tool to help you live your best life. Read on to learn more about the role of life coaches, how to find a life coach, and where they might be able to support you. 

What Is a Life Coach?

A life coach is like a personal trainer for your mind, helping you to become more intentional with your life. The primary role of a life coach is to provide guidance, support, and accountability as you work toward your desired outcome. 

People turn to life coaches when they need help to overcome challenges, achieve goals, and rise above current circumstances. A life coach helps you challenge your belief systems and to step out of your comfort zone. They use various tools and techniques, such as active listening, goal setting, visualization, and accountability structures to facilitate growth. 

Kelsey Jefferson, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with Grow Therapy, explains the value of life coaching: 

“Life coaching is a transformative compass that illuminates the path to self-awareness, leading you to navigate life’s challenges with clarity, purpose, and resilience. Through life coaching, you can harness the strength to face your fears and rewrite your life story with courage and authenticity.”

Despite the positive ways a life coach can impact someone, many are not qualified to assist clients with working through underlying mental health issues — particularly those of a more severe nature. 

What Are the Qualifications of a Life Coach? 

There are no specific requirements for becoming a life coach. Some life coaches are board-certified therapists; others have gone through professional coaching programs such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Some coaches lack formal training and use their extensive experience in a given field to provide mentorship. 

Coaching programs enable coaches to develop and refine their coaching skills, making credentialed coaches great teachers and mentors. While many professional coaching programs exist, ICF-accredited programs are the industry’s gold standard. They include: 

Licensed therapists make excellent life coaches because they can approach the mentorship involved through a therapeutic lens and may assess underlying mental health issues, as well as general life concerns. 

What Is the Role of a Life Coach? 

A life coach champions personal development and will help you make changes in your life, whether physical, emotional, health, career, or relational. The value of life coaches is that not only do they help you envision the future you want for yourself, but they also help you create and implement an action plan to realize that vision. 

As an unbiased mentor in your life, a life coach listens closely, observes your behavior, and asks thought-provoking questions. They will highlight behavioral patterns and limiting beliefs that may hamper your growth and decision-making to help you take corrective action. 

If you need a change but are unsure how or where to start, a life coach can help you uncover and build upon your inner strengths to implement a plan. Consider working with a life coach if you feel overwhelmed, burned out, or unfulfilled.

What’s the Difference Between a Life Coach and a Therapist?

While a life coach and a therapist are in a similar line of work, they offer different services. Their roles are complementary, with life coaches at times taking over where a therapist leaves off. Ultimately, therapists treat diagnosable mental illnesses and life concerns alike, whereas life coaches primarily only address the latter. 

A critical difference between a life coach and a therapist is credentialing and scope of practice. The National Alliance on Mental Health defines a therapist as a board-certified mental health professional with several years of specific, supervised training who can diagnose and treat mental health issues. Conversely, there are no set qualifications for a life coach; virtually anyone can be a life coach.  

Types of Life Coaches 

Some coaches wear many hats, while others niche down and specialize in helping people overcome specific problems. Coaching specializations include: 

The choice of a life coach comes down to your needs. A generalist coach may help you address various aspects of personal growth and development, while a specialist will help you manage a specific concern. 

When Should You Consider Working with a Life Coach? 

A life coach can help inject a fresh perspective into your worldview. A life coach’s core purpose is to help you identify and develop your strengths, personal and professional goals, and then guide you through the change process by providing tools, support, and motivation. Therefore, you should consider working with a life coach if you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or need a new direction in a part of your life. 

While change can be difficult, a life coach can help you organize your thoughts and efforts to exceed your goals, manage life transitions, and overcome challenges. However, they can’t help you address the underlying trauma as trained therapists can.  

How Can a Life Coach Help You? 

Life coaches help you bridge the gap between your reality and ideal life. They can help you focus your mindset and recalibrate your internal thought processes to influence and change behavior.

A life coach doubles as an accountability partner rooting for your success. Once you retain a life coach, they help you assess your current situation, identify your goals and plan ways to overcome the obstacles that stand in your way. They will help you create a custom road map to achieve these goals. Life coaches utilize their training, skills, and experience to help you attain the best possible results while leaving you firmly in charge. 

Life coaches use active listening, thought-provoking questions, positive affirmation, imagery, and visualization techniques to help clients achieve their goals. Specifically, a life coach may help you with:   

Your willingness to engage with the coaching process and make the necessary changes in your life determines the success of the coaching process. 

Potential Limitations of Working with a Life Coach

While beneficial, life coaching has its share of controversy and criticism. The industry is largely unregulated, creating room for exploitation. While there are many trained and competent life coaches, the sector often attracts fraudsters out to make a quick buck.

Some coaching programs produce well-meaning coaches who may be ill-equipped to provide the help you need. Even when a life coach is certified through a credible formal process, there’s a limit to the services they can offer. 

Can I Have a Therapist and a Life Coach?

Although there’s a slight overlap in their roles, each professional plays a different role in your life. A therapist will help you address any mental health issue that requires clinical intervention, such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, a life coach provides the support you need to improve your quality of life

Since their roles are complementary, you may have a therapist and a life coach. Ideally, you should address any underlying mental health problems before seeking a life coach. Sometimes, your life coach may recommend you see a therapist and vice versa. And notably, some therapists double as life coaches—they will help  you address any underlying mental health issues and then provide the support you need to self-actualize . 

How to Choose a Life Coach 

With so many options, it can be difficult to find the right coach. You may follow the same process when searching for a life coach as you would when searching for a therapist. Be sure to consider the following when searching for the right fit:

Expertise: The best life coaches are experts in their chosen fields and have acquired coaching credentials to improve and structure their delivery.  

Compatibility: Establishing a rapport is at the heart of a successful coaching experience. Does the life coach get you? Are they too formal, too easy-going? Pay attention to how you feel when you meet them. 

Experience: You’re better off with a highly experienced life coach, so pick one who has been coaching people for several years. 

Availability: How does your life coach provide services? Do they prefer one-on-one, in-person, or group coaching? How many appointments do they have available? Do they work weekends or during specific days? Availability plays a crucial role in your success, so you want to pick a coach who’s readily accessible. 

Not every life coach will be the right fit for you. Take your time with the selection process and choose a life coach who fits your needs and personality. 

Tips for Finding the Best Fit

You owe it to yourself to get the best life coach to help you with your journey. Here are some practical tips to help you get the best life coach:

You can lean on friends and family for recommendations, but remember to vet each coach to ensure they’re the right fit for you. 

Improve Your Quality of Life with Life Coaching

A life coach may help you build your dream life and live your life to the fullest. They will help you overcome limiting beliefs, shift your mindset, and become more intentional with your life. Life coaching provides the tools, strategy, and support to overcome obstacles between you and your dreams. 

Despite the overlap, a life coach isn’t a substitute for a therapist. You should seek a licensed therapist if you need help with mental health issues. It takes a board-certified mental health professional to diagnose and treat psychological problems. At Grow Therapy, we simplify the process of searching for a therapist who suits your needs and preferences. 

Use our therapist search tool today to find a mental health professional who specializes in your area of need, accepts your insurance, and is readily available in your area. 

FAQs

  • The duration of life coaching depends on your individual goals and needs. Some clients work with a life coach for a few months, while others maintain the coaching relationship for a year or more.

  • Working with a life coach involves regular coaching sessions to discuss your goals, challenges, and progress. The coach will hold you accountable for taking action toward your goals.

  • Life coaching fees can vary depending on the coach's training, experience, expertise, location, and duration of the coaching relationship. You should inquire about the price and package options during the discovery session.

About the author
therapist william snyder William Snyder, LPC

William Snyder is a licensed professional counselor who works with adults experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, depressed mood, loss and grief, identity and self-concept difficulties, relationship problems, life-transition difficulties, and traumatic memories.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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