Life Coaching: Do You Need It and Can You Do It Yourself?


Your savings have tanked and your business is in the toilet. It’s no surprise that mental health professionals are in demand. But do you really need professional help? And if so, what should it be? A therapist or a life coach?

Alice Donavin is a  Professional Life Coach and Psychotherapist, describes the difference:

“A therapist works to heal the wounds of the past while a life coach works to effect change in your current behavior and help you move your life forward.”

Who’s up for both? I’ve heard about five times this week about people working harder than ever to keep the job or business they’ve got. Can you afford not to invest in yourself?

Why Hire a Life Coach?

Life coaching is a relatively new discipline that draws on psychology, sociology, positive adult development, and other types of counseling. Life coaches use value assessment, behavior modification, persuasion, suggestion, reassurance, goal-setting, and instruction to help you see yourself and your problems more realistically and cope more effectively.

Donavin says to consider hiring a life coach if:

  • You’ve always defined yourself by your job and/or assets:
    • Your identity has always been defined by your net worth … now what?
    • Your identity has been wrapped up in your job … now you may not have one, or fear you may lose your position and/or company
    • You aren’t sure what is important to you anymore … and “material goods & stuff” used to be a top priority
  • You’re stuck in an endless loop:
    • You keep having the same argument with your spouse/child/significant other with no resolution
    • You repeat behavior that never works, never gets you anywhere
    • You keep making the same lousy choices
  • You’re having a really hard time:
    • You’re contemplating divorce or separation
    • You’re coping with a death, divorce, illness, aging parents, adolescent kids, or all of the above
    • Your personal/work life is a disaster and nothing you try helps
  • You’re just not yourself:
    • You can’t remember what it’s like to feel confident
    • Self-help books and all their good ideas have stopped helping
    • Your sad days are turning into sad weeks/months
    • You worry about how worried you are
    • Enough is never enough for you
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DIY Coaching

Plunking down cash for professional services may seem extravagant right now. Can you coach yourself toward success? Check out these resources:

Coach Yourself to Succes: 101 Tips From a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals at Work and in Life, by Talane Miedaner

Character Makeover: 40 Days with a Life Coach to Create the Best You, by Katie Brazelton and Shelley Leith

Life Coach in a Box: A Motivational Kit for Making the Most Out of Life, by Carol Stanton and Katy Dockril

Danavin encourages life coaching as an efficient, cost-effective, and long term solution to what ails you. Whether you shell out for professional guidance or go the DIY route, any investment has got beat the DIA.

  • Thats a good article, and a good reminder too for taking our life seriously. I guess, its never a bad idea to ask for help even when you need to pay for it. Having a life coach is no less than having a mentor with you.

  • josh

    Many of us focus on what we don’t want and constantly critique (difference people). First step is to switch to a positive frame: What DO we want? This allows us to begin the creative process of shaping our lives. Describing what we don’t want is little more than complaining. Describe what we do want and we start creating.

    This guy really knows his stuff and I found him to be really trustworthy. Check him out on his website

  • Coaching is catching on in mainstream and certainly is necessary in an environment where so many individuals are layoffs, financial losses, relationship issues or a general decline in morale. Finding a great coach will often help you help yourself and remind you of the greatness within you. Coach Anna

  • Straight to the point and thought provoking, I like that, and I also like the fact that the article encourages people to take responsibility, it is not about the circumstances we are it, it is about what we do to change them.

  • Lela Davidson

    It would be great to have a coach for some things. I’m just not sure how coaching fits into the average person’s life. You would think that during touch financial times, this would be one of the first costs to cut, but people must gaining enough from coaching to justify the expense. Otherwise we wouldn’t have all these coaches! Very interesting.

  • Matt

    I found this site which offers free online life coaching. Pretty detailed programs from a working, experienced coach:

  • Shadow

    Thank you heaps for this article. It was -exactly- what I was looking for. You have helped me with making decisions in my life. And so I thank you for that.

  • I make it a point to ‘bust’ the wrong messages about life coaching but this post is right on. Nicely done. I hope a lot of people read it because we’ve got a lot of good we can do (as life coaches) and I still think it’s an underused tool. I offer it with lots of options for those who are short on time or cash at, and wrote a guide to life coaching also available on the site ‘Don’t Hire A Life Coach’.
    Cheers to all and thanks for a job well done,

    James M. Lynch, Virtual Life Coach