What Life Coaching Is (and what it’s NOT)

May 2, 2016

The life coaching industry is blossoming and growing throughout the world. With every website launched, business card handed out and “what do you do” conversation had, more people are becoming familiar with the powerful work of life coaching.

Whether it’s finding balance, improving your health or transitioning into a new career, enlisting the support of a life coach can now be easily considered just as important as a physiotherapist appointment or a regular trim at the hairdressers!

However, misconceptions still do exist about what a life coach actually does. No matter how many times you’ve tried to explain it to friends or family, or perhaps a potential client – the term ‘Life Coach’ can be mistaken for a wide range of things.  And that’s why we’d like to share with you some clear, concise distinctions to help you determine what is life coaching and what it’s not.

Perhaps you’re currently contemplating becoming a life coach yourself?  Or maybe you’re a coach that still gets asked about what you do.  Either way, this is for you!  And of course, you’re more than welcome to share this with anyone who may be slightly confused about the coaching industry.

What Life Coaching Is

Many life coaches may choose to specialise in a certain area or niche such as coaching for Mum’s or with health, however the way in which they work with people is generally the same.

A life coach provides a safe and encouraging space for their clients to define how they would like to improve their life, creating goals that are positive, forward thinking and inspiring.

A life coach assists their clients to break down those life affirming goals into manageable steps to transition from where they are now, to where they want to be.

A life coach honours the present position their client is in but also looks to the future, supporting people to explore their desires, feelings and what they want their life to feel and be like in a lasting way.

A life coach deeply listens to people and asks challenging and thought provoking questions so their clients can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their life.

A life coach provides accountability and lovingly challenges their clients to step outside their comfort zone or shift their perspective.

What Life Coaching Is Not

Life Coaching is not counselling whereby the client needs to dive deeply into their past to facilitate healing, or has any significant current mental, emotional or psychological issues that require therapeutic intervention.

Life Coaching is not mentoring or consulting. The coaching relationship is not for a coach to give advice or tell their client what to do about their life. It’s about empowering clients to create their own pathways and meanings and for the coach to act as a facilitator, guide, cheerleader, encourager and coach (of course!) throughout that process.

A life coach does not evaluate, assess or critique their clients or their life in any way. It is a non-judgemental exchange.

Even though life coaches care deeply, they do not support their clients in the same way a friend does. They have the ability to remain impartial to you and your circumstances while still wanting the very best for you and what you want. This allows them to hold you lovingly accountable at times you may need it most!

A life coach wont tell you what’s right or wrong for you and your life. Their aim is to help you to uncover these answers for yourself.

We hope that if you have been unsure exactly what a life coach does that this post helps you.  Or if you are a coach and have difficulties explaining what you do sometimes (we get it!) – these points may be handy for you too.



  1. Chloe

    Hi Julie! Thank you for sharing. This helps to explain the role in a very succinct and powerful way. x

    • Julie

      So great to hear Chloe!

  2. Anita

    Just Beautiful xo

  3. Kayleigh

    I’m just starting out as a coach and would love to know – what do you do when a client keeps asking you for advice instead of looking for the answers within themselves?

    For example: My client just kept saying “I don’t know” and was looking for me to tell her to the answers. I tried asking powerful questions but was hitting walls with the answers.

    • Julie

      This is a great question Kayleigh and it may be in truth that either the client a) does not understand what coaching actually is or b) is not coachable at this point in time. For any client to actually BE a client (let alone a good one!) they must be prepared to take full responsibility for their life and know that they – and only they – are the expert in what is best for them. If they are truly genuine about wanting to get the best out of a coaching experience with you they will not constantly put up walls – because that is what saying “I don’t know” over and over again is.

      And while they might not know some things – to really help themselves with that – they will own that not knowing but then embrace what they DO know and go out and find more by doing things such as researching, meditating, journalling, reading, being in action, being in stillness – whatever may work for them. And they will keep doing those things until they find what they need. That’s what makes someone coachable and a willing participant in the coaching process between a coach and client. Clients are not engaged in coaching at all or taking it seriously if they just expect to be given answers. It’s not you!

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