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CugelTheClueless's avatar

Are "life coaches" legit?

Asked by CugelTheClueless (725 points ) November 2nd, 2012

Is “life coaching” a genuine profession? It sounds like a scam, or at best a career for well-intentioned people who don’t have what it takes to get a master’s degree in counseling. What can a life coach offer that some other kind of therapist or counselor can’t?

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10 Answers

janbb's avatar

It is a legitimate profession but i understand what you are saying. I suspect they are cheaper and focus more on present day problems rather than digging deep. I guess it all depends on what one needs which would be better.

wundayatta's avatar

Life coaching is different from counseling because it takes a much broader approach. Counseling is about your emotions and personal relationships. It can veer into your finances and job hunting and such. It can cover writers block and other creative issues.

But life coaching is more all around. It includes financial planning and creative coaching and job hunting and life course planning and a bit about relationships, but the focus is not so much on relationships and emotions. It’s really more about the stuff you do in life on a more practical level.

ninjacolin's avatar

Life coaches offer specific strategy for tackling particular issues.

More like: “Oh that? You do that this way.. No, not like that, like this.”

Think of them more like a driving instructor or like on-the-job training. Very specific education and principals.

There’s a million and 5 different ways you can do something of course. A life coach generally helps you to decide on one and then become more of an expert at that particular method.

Coloma's avatar

I think it’s a viable profession, but I agree, it is not on the same continuum as being a certified therapist. I think anyone could be a life coach and it has more to do with getting people enthusiastic and stoked about making changes in their life. Hell, I could be a life coach, I have an infectious and motivating /enthusiastic personality, am creative to a fault, know a shitload about psychology and personality profiling. I don’t think it’s rocket science, by any means.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Some life coaches are psychologists. If I were looking to hire one, I would study their credentials and their resume carefully.

marinelife's avatar

What they offer is outside perspective. It is very hard to see the forest of your own life from down in the trees.

Cupcake's avatar

I think of the difference between life coaches and therapists as “how to get where you want to go in life” (life coaches) and “how did you end up where you are?” (therapists). They both have their place.

In terms of training, I think the credentials for therapists (counselor, social worker, psychologist, etc.) are more clear than for life coaches. Look closely at their credentialing board and training requirements, as well as the experience of the coach. Personal recommendations are helpful.

I worked with a local non-profit agency for a school project. I think they staffed life coaches over therapists because (1) they are cheaper and (2) they are more practical/goal-oriented/to-the-point.

lillycoyote's avatar

It is a genuine profession and their guidance can be very helpful for some people. Some people might benefit from it, some people might not or don’t need the guidance. Their like personal trainers, I think, but for coping strategies, setting goals, managing one’s life, rather than physical fitness. Most people are perfectly capable of figuring out how to exercise on their own and don’t need or want a personal trainer, same with life coaches, I think.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Review the term “Life Coach” and ask again.

wildpotato's avatar

It is a real profession. My friend who life coaches is going for his MSW at Columbia, and I think he’ll probably continue with that title rather than going the LCSW (licensed clinical social worker, which is what most therapists/counselors get) route. I don’t believe there is a licensing exam for life coaches, the way there is for LCSWs.

The world of therapist/counselor/life coach training and certification is a large and complicated one, and there are many paths to take. Licensed vs non-licensed is one way to differentiate “professionalism,” I suppose, but I don’t think it’s a terribly accurate one. Licensure is mostly useful to make yourself reimbursable by health insurance companies, as I understand it. So people with other credentials should not be discounted – they may have had as much or more education in their field than a licensed psychologist or social worker, and simply chose to take a different approach.

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