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Top 5 Life Coaching Myths BUSTED

Updated: Dec 1, 2019

Life Coaching is definitely getting more recognition in the world. Despite that, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what coaching actually is. Here are my Top 5 Life Coaching Myths BUSTED.

Myth #1: “What qualification does a Life Coach have to tell me what to do with my life?!”

This myth highlights a common misconception, that a life coach is a guru who doles out advice on what you should be doing to solve all your problems and live a fantastic life. FALSE. Coaching is a collaboration between Coach and Client to explore what you want from life, how your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours are currently stopping you from getting there and making changes to these to get your desired outcome. Sometimes advice may be appropriate, but this usually only with express permission from the Client to receive it.

It is worth noting that an exception to this are coaches who are also qualified mentors; in this case, giving advice would be part of their practice. However, that would be agreed between Coach and Client at the start of their work together. If someone calling themselves a coach is charging you solely to tell you what they think you should do in any given situation look elsewhere, cos they ain’t coaching.

Myth #2: I can just get advice from my friends/family, can’t I?

Maybe you can, and if that turns out to be all you need to get to where you want to be, great! However, friends and family are rarely impartial in life and will have ideas about what you “should” do to be successful. If you’re considering ditching your career in medicine to pursue your ambition of becoming a stand-up comedienne, for example, your parents may not be the first people you want to explore that with. While your Coach will be invested in your overall success, they won’t be tied to any particular idea of what that looks like for you. Coaches are also trained to look at things like language and behaviour in a way that differs greatly from day-to-day conversations to help you pick apart what’s going on in your world.

Oh, and for the “advice” bit, see Myth #1.

Myth #3: Coaching is the same as therapy/counselling, right?

There is a lot of similarity between the practicalities of coaching and counselling/therapy, but the two are different.

Generally, coaching is seen as looking forward to the future, that is recognizing that there is an outcome or goal you want to reach and making changes to get you there. As part of this, there may be certain things that have happened in the past that are affecting how you operate now, and coaching will look at those insofar as they are affecting you reaching your goal. While coaching can be effective for addressing everyday anxiety, it shouldn’t be used to treat clinical anxiety or other mood disorders (unless your coach is also a qualified therapist).

Counselling and therapy on the other hand, are focused more on treating diagnosed issues such as clinical anxiety and depression, or to resolve significant and/or traumatic past issues that are impacting your life currently. That isn’t to say that you can’t have coaching if you have a diagnosed mental health issue, but it is important that you find a coach who knows where their competency lies and can work together with your healthcare professional. This is particularly important as, generally, coaches are not trained to deal with mental health crises.

Myth #4: Anyone can all themselves a “Life Coach” – how do I know you’re not a charlatan?

While it’s true that anyone can call themselves a Life Coach, contrary to popular belief, in the U.K. anyone can call themselves a counsellor or therapist too, so this isn’t particular to coaching. That being said, there are things to look for to help you pick a good coach.

That your potential coach has had training is essential. The type of training they’ve had matters too. The Diploma I hold has been accredited by both the Association for Coaching and the International Coaching Federation (the 2 professional bodies active in the UK who accredit coaches and their training) for having a certain amount of training hours - which includes seeing clients - setting me out from those who have done a 2 day certification course which required no work with real clients outside the training room. It also means the course I followed contained training on a variety of coaching models and frameworks and not just one or two models.

Personal accreditation from one of the above organizations can also be an indication of a good coach; however many coaches choose not to pursue accreditation for various reasons, so lack of this isn’t necessarily a minus. Is your potential coach a member of a professional body? This means they meet a certain standard and will need to adhere to ethical guidelines.

Myth #5: Coaching is too expensive

This one comes down to value – not of the coaching itself, but what it will get you. What’s your deep down reason for considering coaching? What is it that you (really, really) want? If, say, your first answer is that you want to overcome self-doubt, what will you get as a result? Increased satisfaction at work, a new job or promotion, better pay, recognition and new opportunities, more enjoyment in life? Those are your deep down reasons. Put a value on them – how does it compare to what you’d need to invest in coaching fees? Would you spend the same on a holiday? Or a year of personal training?

While this list is by no means exhaustive, hopefully it’s gone some way to correct the misconceptions about a profession that can help you to achieve things you never thought possible. Have a question about coaching I haven't addressed here? Post it in the comments!

Sarah specialises in coaching professional women to overcome self-doubt so they can achieve amazing things and own those achievements. As well as holding a Diploma in Transformational Coaching (Animas), she has a Master’s in Psychology. Sarah is currently accepting new clients, book a free consultation here, or keep up with her on Instagram.

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©2019 by Sarah Walsh Coaching. E-mail::coaching@sarahwalsh.london