By Hilary Daninhirsch
Are you living your best life? What changes can you make that would allow you to reach your fullest potential? What’s holding you back? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, perhaps the solution lies in consulting a life coach.
A life coach is not synonymous with a therapist. The key difference is that therapy often focuses on the past, while life coaching focuses on the present and what you want your future to look like. Another important difference is that therapy is covered by insurance while life coaching is not.
Diana Fletcher, a life coach and author, uses a metaphor to explain the difference. “Counseling and therapy are like archeology, and coaching is like architecture,” she said. “People choose life coaching when they want to take action and move forward and perhaps don’t feel the need to dig into their past.”
“A person is called a ‘patient’ when they are in therapy because the goal is to get well or overcome an unresolved issue, trauma or addiction,” added life coach Rosemary Losser, MA. “If you start life coaching, and it becomes clear that you have an unresolved issue from the past, your coach may refer you to a therapist for help in resolving the issue.”
According to Dr. Nancy Mramor, a psychologist and life coach, sometimes the two disciplines do collide. “There are times when therapy floods over into coaching, but coaching should not flood over into therapy,” she said.
So what goals can a life coach help you achieve? The sky’s the limit. “Coaching can help you set goals, make decisions, clarify your dreams, start a business, improve your relationships and resolve conflict. Coaching can help you get healthier, live a more balanced life, gain insight and energize your life,” said Losser.
Perhaps you feel stagnant and want to focus on your own personal growth. “Coaching can help you get ‘unstuck’ and move forward. Coaching gives you the tools to make changes in your life and your habits. It can help you improve your work habits, change your eating and exercise habits and most importantly, change your thinking,” said Fletcher.
Life coaches will often have a specialty area, though they can help people of all ages with many life issues. Fletcher specializes in helping women over 30 reduce stress, while Losser specializes in ‘people development’ and conflict coaching. Mramor practices Real Conscious Living Coaching, which she defines as “the capacity for thought and action from constantly refreshing awareness of personal and global truth.
“My aim is to help healthy people become even better, to unearth the genuine life purpose that someone has, and to mobilize them forward toward those goals,” she explained. A cancer survivor, Mramor specializes in mind-body techniques, helping those who suffer from stress-related illnesses and those dealing with medical conditions.
“People with health challenges will come to me because of my mind/body healing approach,” she said. In this technology-obsessed society, Mramor also helps people learn to use technology and media in a healthy manner.
How much time you’ll need with a life coach varies depending on your goals. Mramor has a specific time frame in which she likes to work, while Fletcher says that while she can help people in as little as one session, she generally prefers to work with them for three to six months to maximize results.
“One session may help a person take a next step or help clarify a long-range dream or goal. But for people who want to solve a problem or reach a goal within a certain time frame, it is more effective to make a commitment to a longer term coaching relationship,” Losser added. “A commitment creates accountability and momentum. At times you may feel lazy or want to quit, so the commitment helps you over the hump.”
Not all life coaching needs to take place in person. Phone consultations or reading materials can also be a part of the mix. “Everyone is different, so every client gets individualized coaching,” said Fletcher.
So who could benefit from life coaching? “I think everyone can benefit from coaching,” said Fletcher. “It’s a great feeling to be coached. A coach is a cheerleader and support system who also holds you accountable for your action or inaction.”
This article appeared originally in North Hills Monthly.