A life coach has specific, well-defined, and limited roles for their clients. When deciding whether to hire a life coach, it is helpful to know what a life coach does and does not provide, so that you can decide whether a life coach is for you.

What is Provided by Life Coach

A life coach has three specific roles for their clients. The coach performs a different purpose of either a counselor or an adviser. Regardless of the areas of expertise of the coach, the roles are the same.

The first role is a guide. Rather than telling the client what to do, the coach will ask the client questions designed to elicit responses and decisions by the client. This technique of inquiry has been used by teachers and advisers for thousands of years, including the philosopher Socrates. The coach does not tell the client what to do or what to think, but asks the right questions to get the client to understand the situation.

The second role is as an accountability partner. Once the client has made a decision about a course of action, the coach tracks the actions, asking for progress towards the chosen goals. It has been shown again and again that a person will make more progress when they know that someone is watching, even if the watcher has no authority.

The third role is a recorder of what has been said. The coach should keep a record of the topic of each meeting. Later, the coach can repeat what has been discovered and what has been decided so that the client does not forget the progress that has been made.

What the Coach Does Not Provide

A life coach does not tell the client what to do or what to think; the driving force of the relationship is the client. A coach is not a counselor or a financial adviser, both of which require specialized training and licensing. A coach is not a friend, even though a cordial relationship helps the coaching. Finally, coaching is not teaching; the client discovers the key facts and makes the key decisions, not the coach.

Also, the coach has no authority over the client. The relationship is one of exploration, not control. There are no directives, no commands, and no orders. There are no penalties for not doing something, only the lack of progress caused by the inaction. The coach and client are peers, equals on the journey.

Helping the Vision

Given the lack of control and authority, how does the client benefit from the relationship? The benefit is that the client gets a much clearer understanding of who they are, where they are, and what they want to get done. The ancient prophet of Delphi told their supplicants “Know Thyself”; the coach lets the client do just that. Value indeed.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely is a certified life coach concentrating on personal and professional development. His site Steely Services provides information on personal development topics. John shares his love of classics in his Monthly Classic program of free books.