Do you need a Life Coach?

Life coaching is one of those little things that we hear about in the press and on TV and laugh at, thinking to ourselves how ridiculous people are that need such a thing. If you look into it further, however, you might be surprised at how useful a little life coaching can be for yourself.

To put it simple, life coaches use techniques from psychology, counselling and mentoring, and combine them to help clients achieve their chosen goals. Some examples of the techniques used include personal behaviour modification and goal setting, although almost any technique can be brought in if the coach believes it will be helpful to the coachee. The coach's most important role is to simply listen to what the client has to say, and help him or her work through the problems that are standing between them and their final goals

Life coaches are much-criticised, in general because it is not an officialy recognized profession. You don't need any kind of particular education or qualifications to become a life coach: you can pretty much just start putting up posters, asking for money and doing what you want with the people who come to you. Many critics say that life coaching means basically practicing psychotherapy without any code of ethics or a governing body.

However, at least one organisation - the International Coach Federation, is attempting to improve this situation by introducing certification and standards for life coaches. There are several levels of ICF certified coach status, each one dependent on you having completed a certain number of hours of study and of a real world coaching experience. However, many coaches feel this to be counter-intuitive, as it is not possible to become a certified coach at all until you have completed many hours of coaching. It is hardly fair if you expect people to only seek coaching from the certified coaches.

To sum up, if you are thinking of hiring a life coach, it is up to you to be cautious of who you choose. Meet them first, and be cautious of any attempts to manipulate you or force you into any kind of activity. Respond only to legitimate-looking advertisements, and insist on proven references from some previous clients. The best approach is to get a life coach that someone you know has previously met with and has a positive experience.

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