By Michael Laffey

PART 1: What is Life Coaching?


It’s a natural question, ‘What is Life Coaching?’

My elevator pitch is: The nearest analogy I can draw is that it’s a massage for the mind, removing stresses or blockages to optimise your potential and allow room for growth.

So, Why the Massage Analogy?

As with physical massage, Life Coaching addresses the knots and tensions which restrict our ability to function at our best. Sometimes massage is gentle, relaxing, soothing and mood enhancing. Other times massage is more vigorous (such as a sports massage) requiring more rigorous work with a client to address an issue.

If the problem goes deeper, then counselling or psychotherapy may be a preferred option.

Why is life coaching not counselling? 

Counselling generally addresses chronic concerns or trauma, working with the patient for some time while utilising therapeutic disciplines to address those concerns.

Coaching looks at where someone wants to be on a personal, career or developmental path. Goals may be identified, outcomes explored with skills, learning or resources brought together either in terms of recognition or as part of a developmental or iterative plan.

I’ve worked with clients who have tried coaching to then realise that counselling is a better option for their current situation. I think that’s a good thing. I’ve worked with clients who have previous or current experience of counselling and integrate coaching alongside. I’ve also worked with clients for whom coaching is not aligned with counselling or any other therapy and it’s about maintaining focus, having accountability and regular points to review what’s going in in personal, business or career pathways while sounding out their next steps.

Incorporating Life Coaching

Life Coaching can be tailored into a host of personal and professional situations.

The benefit of working with a life coach can be one or many of the following:

  • Perspective– stepping outside our usual situation and observing it from a neutral space
  • Modelling– defining and exploring frameworks which embody what we want
  • Integration– seeing what works for us and how we can integrate these to improve upon our current situation. Think: facets of ourselves, our skills, our connections and support networks
  • Feedback– this comes in two ways; what we experience and what we say about our experiences. A good coach will play back your own words and engage you in what you now know from your experiences
  • Accountability– a coach can be an independent resource to check in with and monitor progress
  • Ownership– taking action is an integral aspect of being in control of our options and outcomes
  • Focus– placing what’s important back in sight
  • Purpose– re-setting the “what matters” barometer so that what you do makes sense and has meaning
  • Chunking it down– when the vision feels too big or the outcome feels far away, life coaching can help with focusing on a few steps at a time to maintain connection and progress


PART 2: Why Have a Life Coach?

That’s the big question. I came to coaching by being coached myself. I fell in love with it and the process having reaped the benefits of coaching from both sides.

The coach possesses:

  • Listening skills
  • Questioning skills
  • Objectivity


You, the client, benefits through vocalisation in a safe space (the third space) from which clarity delivers:

  • Identification and acknowledgement of any type of barrier holding you back (self-held or external)
  • Identification and acknowledgement of your strengths (skills, approaches, styles)
  • Identification of areas you want to develop (either in terms of the outcome you want or as interactive development along the way)
  • Focusing on outcomes & actions that will deliver any aspect of what you want to improve or change
  • Connection with core values, events & actions in your life. Understanding how they join up and how they make you who you are. Then, more importantly, what they mean in terms of why you want what you want
  • Choices in how you approach your outcome. You will re-discover who or what is available to you
  • Purpose because the dots join up
  • Ownership because both short- & long-term gains are about how you connect with your desires, believe in them, choose what’s relevant, discard what isn’t, find the pace you know you can commit to and orchestrate it. You will never commit to someone else’s plan or approach in the same way
  • Momentum because the steps are clearer, meaningful, as small or as big as you want them to be with non-judgmental support throughout your coaching time


Michael is a former Wellness Professionals At Work graduate and now works as a Life Coach.  You can find him here.

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