You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that working toward these goals sounds like the purview of a clinical psychologist, yet there are important distinctions between therapists and coaches. Most significantly, a clinical psychologist like Dr. Michelle Hernandez who we interviewed on the PUSHLivingPodcast, has an advanced degree (typically a doctorate) and is licensed by the state in which they practice. A life coach can go through a certification program, but neither certification nor licensure is required. In addition, a therapist can be characterized as approaching issues from a theoretical framework and often working to resolve past issues that are contributing to problems today. In contrast, a coach doesn’t have a theoretical paradigm and instead uses today a starting point and the future as a goal.
When it comes to your health and well-being, an outside perspective is almost always helpful. But not all perspectives are equally helpful. Friends are priceless, and you can count on their loyalty and support, yet they’re not necessarily objective and may not be the best source for difficult conversations and hard truths. A trained, licensed clinician is the best source for treating mental illness or healing from past trauma, but might not be flexible in using out-of-the-box techniques to bridge the gap between your present and your future. A life coach can be immensely useful when you need help in defining your future and in bringing that future to fruition.
Life coaching can help with a variety of issues. Perhaps you’re recently injured and need help navigating the path to feeling at ease moving through your life on wheels. It could be that you’re ready to rock a positive body image and exude confidence, but need a guide to point the way. Maybe it feels like your caregivers are suffocating you or like your family members are fraying your last nerve. Essentially, any objective or goal – including career or business goals, adaptive sports, self-advocacy, and even dating – are fodder for life coaching.
Life coaches use a variety of exercises to help you gain perspective, move past obstacles, and achieve your goals. Let’s say you have trouble prioritizing, or that you never seem to have time for the activities that matter most. A coach might show up with a bucket, several large river rocks, a bunch of pebbles, and a container of sand. She’ll label the rocks with the things that are most important to you, she’ll make a list of semi-important activities and thoughts, and another list of less important tasks. She’ll take the bucket and pour in the sand – the activities that take up most of your time but that don’t enrich your life – and then add the pebbles. When she tries to add the large rocks, there’s no room. Because you fill your life with the less critical tasks and activities, those with the most meaning wind up sidelined. She’ll re-do the exercise, demonstrating that if you put the large, most important rocks in first, you can fill up the empty spaces between them with the pebbles and sand. You’ll be able to prioritize and get your most important needs met, while still fitting in more mundane life tasks.
Sometimes life coaching tools are less visual and more cerebral. If you’re feeling dissatisfied but aren’t sure why and you don’t see a clear path forward, a life coach may have you make four lists. The first is things you want and already have, such as a solid relationship, a fulfilling job, or a home to call your own. The second is things you have and don’t want. This list might include a backbiting coworker, a large amount of debt, or an unreliable friend. The third is things you don’t have and want, such as a promotion, a new wheelchair, or a child. The fourth is things you don’t have and don’t want, such as homelessness, a divorce, or a family rift.
The coach will probably have you reframe the “have and don’t want” statements so that they fit in the “don’t have and want” category. For example, instead of having a backbiting coworker, you want to work with people who support and empower one another. This enables you to have a framework of goals and take actions that will make those goals a reality. At the same time, you can focus on the gratitude you feel for the things you want and already have and for the things you don’t have and don’t want.
It’s easier than ever to find a life coach who is a good fit with your personality and goals. Coaching can take place in person, but video and telephone coaching can be equally effective. When searching for a coach, referrals are always a great start, but there are also coaching directories like Noomi and matching services like LifeCoachSpotter.
As with any service professional, it’s important to review their qualifications and certifications. Life coaching doesn’t require special education or certification, but there are several organizations that offer training and certifications. Ensure that the person offers the type of coaching you need. A career coach won’t be particularly helpful if you need help with a relationship. In addition, take advantage of a free consultation and determine if your and the life coach are in sync. If the person you speak with isn’t a good fit, don’t feel bad about moving on and finding someone who will be a better match.
Finding a life coach living life in a wheelchair can be a challenge. However, here are a few who have made an impact in this career: Sam Morris, Sabrina Cohen, Scott Chesney, Tiphany Adams, Kristina Rhoades, Steven Lister and Dr. Mitchell Tepper are successful coaches on wheels.
It’s also important to take into account your finances and the cost of life coaching services. Some life coaches charge $50 per session, while others charge $300 or more. You may be asked to make a commitment to a certain number of sessions. It’s commonplace for a life coach to ask for a one-month agreement, but others might want a three- or six-month commitment.
A life coach can guide you around the pitfalls and toward empowering solutions. They can be your strategist, your motivator, and your accountability partner. If you’re ready to achieve your goals, do what you love, and gain confidence, finding a life coach can help you get there.