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What is Life Coaching?

What is Life Coaching?

Article by M. Joy Young, LCSW, ACSW Portland Oregon
(503) 309-1163

Life Coaching is an empowering relationship between the client and the coach that focuses on helping the client achieve their life goals, ambitions, and/or dreams. I think of coaching as a proactive and empowering process that is client centered. This means that the client decides the goals, direction, and purpose for each coaching session. It is important that the coaching process focus entirely on the client’s values, goals, beliefs, and concerns and the coach acts as a sounding board, a questioner, and a compassionate guide to the client’s discovery process.

Another way of describing life coaching is that of a process that helps people become unstuck in their lives, helps them clarify their true values and goals, and helps them move towards those goals and aspirations. During the coaching process the coach will hold the client accountable – that means if you say your gonna do something the coach will hold you to it. This is one of the best benefits of life coaching. When you have someone in your life who has no invested interest in your decisions (unlike family and friends) but who is involved in helping you make the changes you want to make, this acts as a good incentive to increase your follow through on actions that you might otherwise ignore or make excuses to not complete.

Unlike therapy, life coaching does not work with pathology (medical disorders or diagnoses) or past psychological issues. Coaching focuses on the present and future goals and possibilities. Also unlike counseling, coaching does not have a strong power inequity. The coach is not viewed as the exclusive expert but instead shares expertise with the client. The client IS considered the expert of their own life in coaching.

It is also important to distinguish life coaching from mentoring. A mentor is someone who acts as a role model for certain behavior and acts as expert for a student or someone seeking to, “be like” the mentor. Coaching is not about having someone to look up to or about the coach modeling certain behavior for the client to follow. Life coaching is about helping clients find their own answers and to be their own mentor for the life that they want to live.

If you are interested in life coaching. I would love to hear from you. I am accepting new referrals and offer a free 30 minute consultation. Contact M. Joy Young at (503) 309-1163 .. You can also reach me at or at