Hey all! As I’m almost 5 months into this whole life coach gig with Restoration Counseling, I’m realizing that lots of people have some questions about what a life coach actually is and does. I’ll be honest and say that for YEARS, I thought a life coach was kind of a weird job, like not a valid or real job. Life’s irony is excellent. Sooooooooo I figured if you were like me and felt a little judge-y about life coaches, or even just felt like you had basically no exposure to what a life coach was, I would do a little FAQ to help you understand more of what I do!
What is a life coach?
A life coach is basically someone you pay to come alongside you in a specific time in your life to help you work through a problem, issue, or obstacle. There are different types of coaches; some focus specifically on career-related things, physical health & wellness, etc. I would consider myself a life coach that deals with self-awareness, relationships, transitions, goal-setting, etc.
A life coach is meant to be an objective person who can offer you perspective that maybe your friends and family may not be able to offer. They can ask you good questions. They can help reality check any lies or shame that you’ve internalized and help you re-frame those messages. They can offer you acceptance right where you’re at while simultaneously seeing your potential and pushing you towards a healthier version of yourself. They can help you reach your goals and make positive changes in your life. Hiring a life coach is a way of prioritizing your personal growth and investing in a healthier future for yourself.
What are the qualifications of a life coach?
It depends! Obviously depending on what type of coaching you are looking for, the qualifications may be different, so always look at the qualifications of your life coach to see if they align with what is important to you. Do your research and make sure that the life coach you are looking at is qualified to guide you in that capacity.
For me personally, I bring both education and experience to the table. I do have an advanced degree in the field of mental health; I graduated with my Masters in Psychology in 2014 and studied counseling in my undergrad degree as well. I also have a decade’s worth of experience mentoring and coaching. I’ve led & managed multiple teams, had anywhere from 5-15 people I directly mentored every year, and was sought out by others who had other opportunities for mentorship & coaching but also wanted time with me. At my former job, I was voted & awarded the title of “Most Influential Staff Member” out of thousands of employees; I am also a TEDx speaker and presented at Grand Canyon University’s inaugural event in 2017. (check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uLHjwpuFXc )
As for my current role as a life coach, I have chosen to pursue that through an established counseling organization called Restoration Counseling. I am a part of their virtual team, so I see clients via Zoom across multiple time zones. I am overseen by a licensed therapist, have professional accountability, and receive ongoing training. At Restoration Counseling, we are invested in story work and the Re-Story approach because we care deeply about not just helping people with surface-level behavior management, but helping people find deeper healing by getting to the root of our struggles and delving into our life stories that have helped shape who we are.
What do you, Nicole, specialize in?
Generally, I help people with self-awareness, relationships, transitions, goal-setting, personal growth, etc. My age specialty is college students & young adults (18-30), but I do work with adults of any age. I do have a couple of specialized topics that I do coaching in and those include: body image, Christian faith deconstruction and/or reconstruction, & building bridges between LGBTQ+ people and Christians (so either someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and has some connection in their story to Christianity, or to someone who loves someone who is LGBTQ+, is Christian, and is figuring out how to better understand). Outside of Restoration Counseling, I do leadership coaching for teams, businesses, and groups trying to create a healthier group dynamic, work environment, etc. You can find more information on that at my personal website (www.nicoleclifton.com)
Why should I hire a life coach as opposed to a therapist?
This is one that used to matter to me a lot because I used to question the validity of life coaches. Actually, when I was interviewing at Restoration Counseling, I asked the owner of the practice (who is a licensed therapist): Why would you hire me? What value to you believe I could add to your team even if I’m not a licensed therapist and you are?
His answer obviously impressed me since I ended up working for them. What he said was that there are so many people in the world who are gifted helpers and healers, who have deep wisdom and insight…… and they don’t necessarily have to be licensed therapists. Obviously it is still important to function with a high ethical standard, but believes that if someone doesn’t need help with a mental health diagnosis, there are some people who could benefit just as much from seeing a life coach as a licensed counselor. He told me that because of my education it gave me the edge to understand mental health in a crucial way even if I wasn’t treating people for those things, but would have deeper understanding if it was a part of their story. He also highly valued the experience I already had in mentoring & coaching, seeing the reputation and legacy I had already built for myself. Knowing that he and my direct supervisor saw the value in me, my experience, and what I brought to the table, I felt compelled to join the team.
Another HUGE benefit of hiring a life coach over a therapist is that is can be less expensive! As previously mentioned, I am not a licensed therapist which means I can’t diagnose you or treat you for a mental health condition. Since I’m not a licensed therapist and seeing people for issues that require a higher level of care, I don’t charge as much! If you don’t need to be seen for a mental health condition, seeing a seasoned, experienced life coach can be an excellent alternative to help you work through whatever life challenge you may be experiencing.
If you’d like to hear more about why you would choose a life coach, you can check out this short video from my direct supervisor Tracy Johnson:
Do I need to have sessions every week in order for it to be beneficial?
Nope! Some people have the time, emotional space, and financial resources to enter into a more focused season of coaching and want to have sessions every week. For others, they can’t and that’s totally okay! Coaching can still be beneficial even if you go every other week or even once a month. Could that mean having to look at your budget and either cut back on some things or temporarily say no to some things for a season in order to invest in yourself? It might. I do believe that your holistic health & growth is worth that effort; I know when I have made those choices in my own life, I have never regretted it.
In the midst of life’s transitions, I want to be someone who is in your corner, someone who will offer you acceptance and support right where you’re at, and also holds hope for you in what can be so I can walk with you towards that. In my own life, I have watched the power of transforming pain into passion. To walk with someone in a difficult season, or even just season of wanting to learn and grow, is such a privilege and one I do not take lightly.