What Is a Life Coach?

Less than five years ago, I would not have been able to answer the question, “what is a life coach?” And today, I am a Certified Life Coach and love how I get to serve people…. it’s truly my passion and my purpose.

If you’re not sure what a life coach is, you’re not alone.

A question that I often get asked is, “What do you do as a life coach – is it like a therapist?

What is a life coach? Notebook and coffee on a desk


Since most people are familiar with what a therapist does, I’ll start with this analogy that I think is quite accurate:

The difference between a therapist and coach is like the difference between a physical therapist and a personal trainer. You hire one to help you fix what is wrong, while the other starts with you being healthy and wanting help with a goal or a change.

In general…

Go to a life coach when you want to:

  • Change something in your life
  • Work toward a dream/goal
  • Up-level something in your life

A life coach is someone who empowers you to achieve specific results that you want to create in your life. A coach provides encouragement, accountability, and gradually helps you bring long-lasting, positive changes to your life.

An important aspect of life coaches is that we are future-focused. We aim to close the gap from where a person is now to where they want to go.

What does a life coach do?

A life coach is someone who helps you reach a goal or make a change in your life.

While by no means is this an all-inclusive list, a good a life coach will help you:

  • Clarify your goals – get clear about what you want. At the beginning you may not even know what you really want, but a life coach will help you identify goals.
  • Identify barriers and limiting beliefs keeping you stuck – a life coach can point out negative patterns in your thinking process to keep it from being a repeating pattern in the future. To get beyond the barriers, you’ll gain skills and learn tools that can shift your whole life.
  • See new solutions on what you can control and change.
  • Guide you with strategies to take action and achieve your goals – help you approach something differently. If you have tried and can’t seem to make progress by yourself, the support a life coach can help you take action.
  • Improve your emotional wellbeing and create a better relationship with yourself.

Some life coaches specialize in areas such as: losing weight, financial stability, marriage issues, addiction, leadership, and the list goes on.

I help women who often times are going through a life transition (such as empty nest) and want more for their lives – more fulfillment, more fun, and more joy! (That’s why I call myself a Life & Joy Coach.)

Usually the best life coach for you is one who ventured on the journey for which you are looking for help, and who has succeeded in doing exactly what you want to do.

Get to know me better in the following video where I talk about my story and the journeys I’ve experienced:


If you want a life coach in your corner and this video resonates with you, let’s talk! I invite you to book a free call with me.

5 Reasons to Hire a Life Coach

  1. No matter what you do, you’re just not happy and don’t feel fulfilled. You know more is meant for your life.
  2. To help you work on a goal or dream for which you haven’t made much progress on your own.
  3. A circumstance has you overwhelmed, stressed, and far from joy.
  4. Overcome fear-based behaviors such as self-doubt, perfectionism, people pleasing, overwhelm, worry, procrastination, etc.
  5. Build self-confidence and courage so you can speak up and do things that you are afraid to do. You will get to a point of confidently setting goals and reaching them!

What does a life coach do during a session?

Life Coach Ellen Burgan

Everyone is unique with individual needs, so there’s not a “one size fits all” template for life coaching, at least not in my practice.

A coaching session can be via phone, video conference (such as Zoom), or in-person. In my practice, I coach via phone. This means geographical location of the coach and client is irrelevant.

Prior to the first session, I have clients fill out a welcome packet that has questions to help think about which areas of their lives are/are not working, what they want to change, and where they would benefit from support.

During the sessions, trained life coaches do NOT give advice. Rather, a coach asks questions to help you access the wisdom of your inner self.

You are the expert in your life, so a coach doesn’t tell you what to do (you hire a consultant to do that).

In my rigorous Life Coach Certification Program at the Fearless Living Institute, I was trained to ask the right questions. These are not quick fixes (although it can be sometimes), but rather questions that help you realize that you already know what’s best for you.

Therapy Versus Life Coaching

Like a therapist, a life coach can help you identify strengths and weaknesses and overcome obstacles keeping you stuck.

Therapy and coaching often complement each other. Many people work with both a therapist and a life coach.

Major differences between therapy and coaching are:

  • A therapist looks into the past to help you in the present. A life coach looks at the present to help you with the future. That being said, your past may come up with a coach in order to identify successes and blocks for the purpose of helping you move forward.
  • Therapy is insight-oriented, while coaching is action-oriented.
  • Unlike a therapist, a life coach does not treat clinical problems nor dig into past traumas.
  • Therapists must be licensed, while life coaches are certified. However, not all coaches are certified as it an unregulated profession. Certification might be something you ask about before hiring a life coach.

Struggling with a mental health condition? Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline for resources in your area.

Is now a good time to hire a life coach?

With all that’s happening in the world right now, the need for life coaching has never been higher.

Pandemic life has uncovered things that just no longer work in our lives, and many people are becoming aware that they want something more for their lives. A life coach is someone who can help people get from Point A to Point B.

Everything is interconnected. When you work with a coach for a specific area of your life, the skills you learn will flow over to all areas of your life. As you get the results you want, the people you love will also benefit by the way you show up.

Ask yourself… “What would my life be like in 6 months if get help RIGHT NOW taking action toward the life a truly desire? What would my life look like in 6 months if I keep doing what I’ve been doing?”

Do you want one-on-one help to get unstuck, gain confidence, take action to achieve your goals, and get the life you truly desire?

If you are ready for support, it’s time for a life coach! I’d love to talk with you. I invite you to book a free call with me.

Lady journaling as part of life coaching

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