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A Coach Approach to Personal Growth

I began as a psychology major in college, but my parents were so dead set against it that I eventually gave up and became a dietitian instead. Many years later, I am now studying to become a life coach. Before making my recent decision, I had briefly considered becoming a minister. So what is the difference between a psychologist, a life coach, and a minister, besides education?

In a nutshell, coaching focuses on the present and is oriented to achieve a future result. Psychotherapists on the other hand, focus on the past and on fixing pathology. A minister uses particular rituals and leads rituals that often adhere to a particular set of beliefs.

Coaches ask questions based on what is happening now, questions that move the client where they want to go, not where they have been. Coaches ask questions that are direct but not directive. For example, what would you like to change? What do you really want in this situation? How can you take action to move toward the outcome you actually want? The client must be ready to work on moving their lives forward without delving into the past.

Psychologists often teach clients problem solving strategies. Coaches do not give advice. Instead, they ask questions to draw clients out of themselves, to identify what their goal is and what motivates them to want to achieve it. Coaches help clients by asking questions which guide the client in creating their own action steps for reaching a goal as well as their commitment to a time frame for each step.

A life coach holds the client accountable for each step along the way, within the time frame set by the client for achieving each step, and helps the client identify any potential blocks or obstacles that could arise. If a client identifies blocks including beliefs that may be holding them back, the coach asks questions which cause the client to remember things which enable them to re-frame their limiting beliefs.

By asking clients what they would like to achieve and identifying their core values, coaches give clients something to think about. Without giving advice, they help clients bring out their own wisdom and potential to solve their own situations by focusing on what motivates the client to want this change.

If you have goals you’d like to achieve and are ready to go beyond what the Handel Group has identified as your inner chicken (that voice that tells you, you can’t do something,) your inner brat, (that part of you that wants everything right now,) and your inner weather reporter, (that false belief that tries to convince you of all the reasons you will never change,) coaching may be just the right relatively short term approach for helping you move forward to achieve your goals, and finally realize your dreams.

26 Responses to A Coach Approach to Personal Growth

  • Edward Reid says:

    I really appreciated your post highlighting the different ways to help others, and then showing the benefits of becoming a life-coach. Personally, I think at one time or another in life we may need them all, but the life-coach is priceless because they show others how to work through life and achieve personal goals.

  • Catarina says:

    Good luck with becoming a life coach. Maybe Sweden is at the forefront when it comes to coaches? Companies are being coached, unemployed, people who are stressed, burnt out and so forth. Even teenagers who have just broken up with their boy/girlfriend. Hence believe there is a huge market for coaches and life can be applied to all the categories mentioned:-)

    • How interesting about coaching in Sweden. I believe coaching is utilized here in The States in all of the same cases as well. Even though there are many coaches, I believe that with the number of people seeking coaches, its an open field. Coaches provide excellent value for people’s lives. Thank you for wishing me luck, Catarina.

  • That’s a really helpful picture of what a coach is and does. I’ve been thinking about having my son see a counselor, but he doesn’t have the typical “therapy-type” issues–what he needs is life skills, and a coach might be just the thing for him. Good food for thought.

    • Coaches often work in niches. You can find a coach who specializes in working with folks of your particular age bracket, gender, or issue, for example (high school students, college students, life transitions, loss of a loved one, etc.) Coaching may be just the thing for your son. Thank you for your comment Sharon.

  • Pat Amsden says:

    The idea that you can change a person’s life in a month seems amazing to me but I can see where you can definitely change their direction in that time period. All your career choices seem to be involved in helping people, even as a dietician, since that’s often where people struggle the most with change.

    • Coaches often work with clients weekly for 3 – 6 months. When clients set goals for personal growth and are followed up with and held accountable, change does occur. Coaches help keep clients focused by working with them to break these goals down into small achievable action steps. Coaching keep the client focused on what is motivating them to want to make these changes. When we stay focused on what is motivating us, break goals down into steps, and also help clients create steps to deal with possible obstacles that may arise along the way, change is seen through to completion. Many coaches also work with groups which saves money for the client. Thank you for your comment, Pat.

  • I think coaching is great. A coach can give you that push you need to get to the level you are trying to go. I would love to work with a coach. That is something on my goal list. I think it would benefit me beyond belief.

    • Coaches generally offer a free introductory session for those seeking one on one work. This way, you can see whether you are interested and if you and the coach are compatible for working together. Coaching can be done very successfully by phone which gives you unlimited opportunity to find a coach from anywhere with whom you may wish to work. Thanks for your comment Niekka. Wishing you all the best.

  • Christina says:

    “The life coach asks questions which cause the client to remember things which enable them to re-frame their limiting beliefs,”really resonated with me. I’m currently going through a job loss (last day will be this Tuesday) where after 10 years, they didn’t think “I’m a good fit for the position” anymore. It lowered my self confidence in my abilities and skill set. That’s when I decided to turn to my hobby of photography and create a blog about traveling around the state I live in. I was allowing their belief in me to limit my own beliefs and the way I saw myself. People are very lucky that you are out there helping to find their way in achieving goals.

    • My focus is on spiritual life coaching. That said, it sounds as though you have taken action with your photography and travels, and the experiences you will have along the way will contribute even more to your personal growth. What you’ve said above shows your awareness. Could it be the Universe telling you that you have outgrown the job and that’s why you lost it? By embracing this opportunity with flexibility which you seem to have done, I believe later down the road, more will be revealed, and you will be able to embrace this challenge with gratitude. Don’t be afraid. You are bigger than your experience, Christina. I wish you the best.

  • maxwell ivey says:

    Hi Michele, I have been giving some thought to branching out into inspirational or motivational speaking as well as coaching and would like your opinion. It’s always a good starting point to tell people including yourself what you are, what you aren’t, what they can expect, and what you cannot do for them. so excellent post here. Good luck with the blog and the new profession, Max

    • Look for free online coaching teleseminars. These are done in groups over the phone. It’s a great way to get a feel for what interests you, and a chance to network, and ask questions. Search for programs or courses online that meet your needs and resonate with you. Thank you, Max.

  • When you listed the professions, psychologist, life coach, and ministry, I kept thinking that they have more in common than they differences. Essentially they are all professions that speak to a calling you have to help people in a very personal way. That speaks volumes for you. I’m glad that you’ve found your way. I’ve worked with a life coach and it was like having a veil lifted. All the best. 🙂

    • I agree that psychologist, life coach, and ministry do have a lot in common yet they differ in approach and in the type education required. I’m so glad you had such a positive experience working with a life coach. I hope my clients will feel the same. Thank you Debra.

  • Worked with a psychologist during and after my divorce. Maybe he was different, because he never considered it a life-long journey. I think the term he used was my “condition was situational.” Hahaha! That always cracked me up…at the same time, it gave me a light at the end of that tunnel. From the beginning, He let me know I’d be getting beyond my situation. Maybe he was a combo coach/shrink! Hahaha! I admire what you do, Michele. I’m happy that you find it so rewarding.

    • I think it’s great Jacquie that you found a good psychologist when you felt it was necessary. That’s all that really matters. It is also true I believe, that sometimes people need to delve into the past and to spend a long time working with a therapist. I don’t think one is better than the other. They are different and suit different purposes. Sometimes when working on a particular situation with a therapist, other situations are stirred up and it can become a lengthy proposition. Like anything else, this too is a choice.

  • paul graham says:

    Good summary of different approaches. Coaching is a positive way to move forward.

  • Arleen says:

    I like the idea of a life coach as oppose to a psychologist. Anything you want to achieve or change is for life. I think it has to be rewarding helping others. I wish you good luck and I know you will make this place just a little better because you are in it. We need more like you.

    • I also believe psychologists can be very helpful if you find one with whom you are compatible. I find however that working with a psychologist is often much more long term than working with a life coach who helps you get on with life, rather than spending years re-hashing your story. Thanks Arleen.

  • jay says:

    I have a few friends that are life coaches and a few others who need some life coaching. Thanks for the descriptions and i wish you well on your life coaching journey.

  • Susan Cooper says:

    Coaching really can be a helpful tool. Just having someone there to help you identify and handle your blind spots is a huge plus. Your biggest problem is the one you don’t know you have.

    • While learning to be a coach, one also receives coaching. I agree with you regarding awareness, although awareness of a problem in and of itself is not enough. Awareness that we always have the tools within us to grow and knowing how to tap into and use those tools is the key. Thank you for your comment, Susan Cooper.

  • Life coaching is a rewarding journey. i have been coaching for a little over a year now and could not be happier. Helping others embrace their personal beauty and unleash their full potential is the most rewarding vocation ever! Best of luck in your new venture 🙂

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