The life coaching industry is still going strong, with many people drawn to it for its focus on concrete strategies and objectives. Beyond life coaching, there is also executive, professional, leadership and even nutrition counseling. To gain insight into the industry, I spoke with therapists, life coaches and people who have received life counseling. Many people feel safer with life coaching than therapy, or at least the popular understanding of therapy, which can be shrouded in stigma.
However, the lack of educational and licensing requirements necessary to promote oneself as a coach could lead to real harm. It is important to be careful when selecting a coach. Alternatively, a coach could work in tandem with a mental health professional who oversees the training process and provides specific mental health treatment. Tess Brigham, a psychotherapist and life coach based in San Francisco, sometimes works with her therapy clients on specific goals, while other times she does not.
The term “executive coach” was first used in the business world at the end of the 20th century to refer to a professional whose objective was to optimize the performance of leaders and guide employee development. The International Training Federation (ICF) approves certifications that hold students accountable to certain standards of education and experience, but many certifications are not accredited by the ICF. Nicky Hammond had been interested in life coaching since she was 26, but she knew she needed more experience in life before she could become a coach. Being a life coach requires dealing with one's own problems, and Hammond says she had to give herself the other way around to be the coach she is today.
Sean O'Connor, from Sydney, who is a coach and academic, says coaches are likely to understand a lot of their work and use their training to set their own goals. Common topics for leadership coaches (maximizing performance, work relationships and professional anxiety) are the bread and butter of every therapy session. But like celery juice, yoni eggs and other wellness trends full of publicity and scant evidence, life coaching triggers my arachnid sense as a health journalist. In the early 2000s, he saw a skinny life coach named Martha Beck on The Oprah Winfrey Show who specialized in working with overworked women.
At first she trusted her life coach, in part because she seemed to have a lot of followers and commitment, which Kristen mistook as a sign that she was legitimate. Joseph James explains that it makes the difference between coaching and therapy “very clear”, and recommends that clients see a therapist if a mental health problem arises. As employees left their jobs en masse in search of better working conditions and more satisfying careers, LCS trained a record number of aspiring life coaches.