Life coaching is a vigorously action-oriented personal development tool aimed at achieving goals and accountability. It has a great overlap with the spirit of NLP and methods such as solution-oriented therapy. It is a parallel evolution with these, but in a workplace setting. It is not really a psychotherapy, but does overlap with therapies and, having a less intimidating image, is thought of an alternative by some people.
Advantages of life coaching
A typical life-coaching question might be “What’s the crucial thing you need to deal with here today? If you don’t resolve it, what will happen?” You might take a moment to answer that – it’s a good question. When the situation really is how to stay positive and to achieve goals, it’s a valuable tool. More than most therapies, understands the value of regular outside support to keep us going in the right direction, “accountable” in the American jargon. Has a coherent vision which is attractive as far as it goes (“you can achieve whatever you want if you go about it right”) but in my view doesn’t go far. Good at the end of other therapy, when the conflicts are cleared away.
Disadvantages of life coaching
At worst, a shallow Americanist vision of life – all change, change, change, action, action, action and no acceptance, let-go, relaxation, inner peace or transcendance. Weak when personal or family issues enter the workplace situation. You can obviously have hidden conflicts which cause you to fail to achieve goals. But the very drive to want to super-achieve those goals in the first place can in some cases arise to cope with painful childhood experiences. Coaching doesn’t recognises the first kind of conflict enough, and the second kind not at all.