Stressed out and don’t know how to sort it out? Getting a ‘Life Coach’ might be the answer, says Lisa Freedman.
WHAT IS LIFE COACHING?
Life coaching is a practical, problem-solving technique to help you move forward in all areas of your life. Life coaches offer regular one-to-one, advice on everything from career aspirations, to money, motivation, sex and success. They act as a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or the starting gun that will get you moving.
HOW DOES LIFE COACHING WORK?
Some coaching takes place face to face, but most of it is done by telephone or email at a weekly pre-arranged time. In a coaching session you might be asked to make a list of your personal strengths (such as, ‘I am very good at organising’, ‘I make people laugh’), or to analyse the immediate obstacles in your path (‘I can’t seem to get a promotion at work’).
The coach will then try to help you find realistic solutions. To do so, they may suggest you keep a diary of recurring problems or, if you are undecided about a particular path, they might suggest you imagine a series of doors with solutions written on them and envisage yourself walking through each one. Life coaching frequently draws on the techniques of more conventional psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, which looks to find quick, practical solutions to specific problems.
WHERE DID COACHING ORIGINATE?
Life Coaching began in California in the early 1980s, when an accountant called Thomas Leonard found that many of his clients, in theory coming to him for financial advice, were in fact looking for broader direction. Though not strictly speaking unhappy, and so not suitable for conventional psychotherapy, they did want impartial advice to help them solve more practical problems in their lives.
Leonard eventually set up the International Coach Federation (ICF) in Houston, Texas, which now has 20,000 members and helps clients to find coaches.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A COACH?
As in all instruction, the relationship between teacher and pupil is crucial and you should try and find a coach who has proven success with the issues affecting you. In Britain there is no government body or central register for coaching and anybody can set up as a coach; so, consider carefully before you go ahead.
You might try contacting a number of coaches on the internet and choosing the one you like and trust best – instinct is, as in many areas, a helpful guide, although obviously not foolproof. Alternatively, one of the best ways to proceed, is on the basis of a personal recommendation.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
If you meet a coach face to face it will cost between £30 and £50 for a 90-minute session. Otherwise, an initial consultation plus four or more 30-minute sessions with unlimited email contact will usually cost between £150 and £300 a month.
DOES IT WORK?
Celia Brayfield, the successful novelist, was an early adopter of Life Coaching. From 1986, she spent about ten years working with an American coach called Jinny Ditzler, and found it enormously beneficial. ‘Every time I said, “I can’t possibly do that”, she would make me ask, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”‘
WHERE TO FIND A LIFE COACH?
- There are about 200 registered life coaches in Britain but they are not organised into one body. There is, however, a British Coaching Academy, which can be contacted on 023 9286 4323, or at: www.lifecoachingacademy.com.
- The website of the International Coaching Federation (www.coachfederation.org), offers listings of British coaches, categorised according to specialisation, background, gender, price and coaching method.
- Lifecoach UK is run by Charles Bentley and offers a mainly web-based service. www.lifecoach.co.uk
- Coach University in the US has a referral site for prospective clients worldwide. www.coachreferral.com