Benefits of Life Coaching

Everything takes longer to get to Maine. We are relatively cautious and conservative people. We don’t jump on bandwagons and we generally favor the tried and true. The challenge that I see is that by the time potentially beneficial trends make it to Maine, they have already shifted and morphed into something larger and more complex.

Life coaching is an excellent example of how we miss opportunities. It started in west coast cities and never quite arrived here. Sadly, it’s something the average Mainer would not see as beneficial because at face value, it appears a luxury. Your health insurance will not pay for it and you may have reservations about the fact that life coaching is not a licensed profession in Maine. However, depending upon your needs, it’s entirely possible that it will provide you a more effective service at lower costs, with much more convenience.

Life coaching got its start as fitness coaching at least 20 years ago. People hire personal trainers because they want to get in shape. Some of the best trainers made it a point to learn about nutrition, weight loss techniques, and gain advanced knowledge about the human body. These folks became sought after because they were able to offer more than simply exercise instruction.

Everything about fitness coaching is straightforward, yet unexpected growth occurred in the field. People tend to share intimate aspects of their life with professionals who provide very personalized service – ask any hair stylist and they will agree. In this way, a certain percentage of fitness coaches diversified further and became sought after as mentors, confidants, and supportive instructors. In many respects these roles mirror the function of a counselor.

Here’s the trade off: The “life coach” may be certified by a national organization but in most states they will not be licensed nor held to a code of ethics. On the up side they will likely have more flexibility in scheduling, are able to meet and have phone/email contact with you outside of the office, and will often work at a less expensive rate.

Any competent coach can hold you accountable for progress toward your goals. Left to our own devices our goals are often just nice ideas. Accountability tends to increase effort and it helps identify and remove obstacles to progress. Only those of us who practice “old school” counseling believe in giving people a kick in the ass when they fail themselves and/or lie to themselves. In working with a life coach there is more room for flexibility in a working relationship and the boundaries are more flexible – choose what works best for you and you’re free to demand this of a coach up front.

Part of the popularity of life coaching is that unlike professional counseling, no documents need to be generated. For those who are concerned about what’s entered into their health care records. Folks who serve in the military and people who work in health care, law enforcement, and other public professions know that being diagnosed with any form of addiction, substance abuse, or mental illness can potentially harm their career. These folks are more likely to suffer silently and cope in unhealthy ways. Life coaching is a viable alternative. They would simply need to find an ideal match.

To ensure optimal results we have to have a clear sense of what we need. Pick the two most important goals you have and there’s a good chance you can locate a coach with expertise in both. Recovery coaches guide folks through abstinence and growth beyond addiction. Corporate coaches can help you expand your business or climb the company ladder. Relationship coaches can help you develop a better partnership/marriage. Communication coaching is for those who fear public speaking or who struggle to be assertive and set boundaries in the workplace. Choose someone who has proven themselves to be successful at what you want to do. I wouldn’t suggest taking advice on raising children from a professional who hasn’t raised kids. I wouldn’t go to a couples counselor who’s been divorced three times and I wouldn’t go to any professional who clearly appears depressed or anxious.

Check the web page of most any therapist in Maine and there’s probably a brief mention of life coaching being available. There won’t be a lot of explanation because quite frankly, the therapist would sooner bill your insurance for traditional therapy. I see life coaching as potentially the best of both worlds – you have a skilled “coach” with relaxed boundaries and the availability of advice and direction that is generally not part of traditional therapy.

Regardless of what personal and professional support you choose, choose a path that moves you from thinking to doing.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.