Although life coaching has been a formal term for a profession designed to assist a person in the identification and achievement of personal goals in a non-therapeutic or counseling manner since the mid 1990's, this form of coaching discipline can be traced back to a traditional football coach turned motivational speaker around the late 1970's or early 80's. The term coaching was born in 1830, in Oxford, England, as a slang term for tutor who helps "cary" one through an exam. It did not take long for sports to adopt the term in 1831.
Becoming more popular and sought after in the mid 1990's, the International Coach Federation (ICF) was created to establish standards as to what life coaching is. However, its initial inception was to inform about what to expect from coaching and to emphatically convey what it is not.
Coaching must be distinguished from psychological therapists or business analysts and consultants. Psychological intervention, or examining and analyzing the past, is not what a life coach does. A coach must not mislead clients into thinking these activities are part of the coaching process. It is not managing a person's life by making sure one adheres to strategies and tactics; nor is it mentoring by providing examples, case studies or role models showing the "right" way to live; and it is definitely not training by teaching methods and tactics in meeting specific targets.
Life coaching is helping a person change perspective on the inner self. Coaches provide guidance in discovering, identifying and recognizing one's existing capabilities and skills. A client knows his or her self better than anyone. So, a life coach's main task is to assist in uncovering and discovering what is already within a person and enabling transformation of those traits into living one's life to the best of those abilities.
Life coaches allow people to see the extent of power they possess in making the right choices for who they really are and want to be. The knowledge of what is hidden inside provides the strength to be more effective, balanced and gratified on every rung while climbing the latter to personal greatness.
Taking bits and pieces from psychology, sociology, and other social sciences, each life coach has a unique approach to his or her program. However, each contract between a client and coach begins with an introduction as to what the coach does, what is expected from each client, and a schedule of sessions is agreed upon. A coach than performs an inquiry as to what a client believes to be obstacles blocking the road to self-satisfaction; conducts a discussion surrounding the clients existing routine in regards to family, work, social obligations; and develops a plan of action to achieve a set of specific goals or objectives.
There are many programs and schools which now offer curricula in obtaining a certification in life coaching. Online and distance learning is the most prominent way to obtain a life coaching certification. With home-based, self-paced, and internet accessible courses becoming a life coach can fit into a working adult's schedule.
The International Coach Academy (ICA) is an example which offers over 100 classes a week, around the clock, and in over 90 countries. The instructors are certified life coaches who maintain excellent standards. Tele-classes and online forums provide interactive learning. The ICA's Certified Professional Coach Program has been accredited by the ICF. This is important when gaining a reputation as a life coach who has had the proper training with accredited instructors and working life coaches.
The client must understand that it is his responsibility to take the actions necessary to achieve the life goals set forth and that the coach is only there to assist, never to take the lead or do the work of the client. The client holds the keys to changing his or her life for the better.