Life coaching has become one of the most sought-after professions of the last decade. A mix of therapy and consulting, it also draws techniques from sociology, career counseling, and management training. This service is seen as an ongoing, non-judgmental partnership rather than as a professional and client relationship.
A life coach works one-on-one with a client to support personal growth, behavior modification, and goal-setting. Based on the premise that most people can achieve their goals if properly guided, a life coach will act as a mentor, assisting the client in the process of taking the life-improving actions necessary to take control of the future. The coach does not focus on reviewing past events or analyzing previous failures. Through a series of attainable steps, a life coach helps clients overcome fears and achieve balance in both their personal and professional life.
Because the coaching process is based on trust, it's important to choose a coach you feel comfortable with. Sometimes it's necessary to try a few professionals before you find the perfect match. A life coach cannot do anything for a client unless the client is ready to step into action. He or she is a sounding board for ideas, but the final work is up to the client. Coaching is also not appropriate if the client is depressed or in need of a professional therapist.
No degree or formal training is required to become a life coach. Both psychologists and non-credentialed practitioners can work as life coaches. A number of training programs are available for people wishing to become a personal coach, but because no official regulatory standards exist, it's difficult to differentiate the good from the bad. The newly-formed International Coach Federation is now working to regulate the coaching industry by providing a set of standards and a series of credentialing levels.
Hiring a life coach is not cheap. The average professional charges 165 US dollars (USD) for a 45-minute face-to-face session, with a minimum commitment of five sessions required. Many coaches now offer online or over-the phone coaching, which tends to be cheaper. Another way to save money is to buy a bundle of coaching sessions at once.