Hello everybody, welcome to episode 198 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's questions is from a listener who's considering being an LGBT life coach.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now today we have a different type of question on tap for all of you. Still advice driven, but today’s asker isn’t dealing with a personal struggle so much as they’re looking for tips on how to become a life coach. This is something to look forward to, and for those of you who don’t aspire to become life coaches and are tempted to stop listening, think again. In today’s episode we’ll also get to the differences between life coaching and similar services, not to mention things you can practice at any time to support people in a similar way that professionals do. So without further ado, here’s the question for today…
QUESTION: “I have been in the midst of figuring out a new career venture and being a life coach has been speaking to me for the past two months. Working in the corporate world really does not suit me as I have discovered.
Would you be able to give personal pointers and information on what really helped you develop your life coach skills, as well as if you used any recommended program to get your life coach license?
I find myself eager to speak with people and help them out through difficulties. Being a member of the LGBT+ community, I would want to work closely with them. I feel like I would not find too many holistic life coaches towards the LGBT+ community, so I would want to fill in that gap.”
Journey Towards Becoming a Life Coach
This will be a fun one to answer! Thank you asker not only for coming to me for assistance but more so for having a desire to help people and make a difference – always good to see.
I’m happy to talk a bit about my journey and my opinions towards becoming a life coach, but lesson number one is that life coaching is still very new aged and loosely defined. That being said, what I tell you could very well differ from what others might tell you. This is both good and bad, but it is what it is and it’s something to be aware of from the get-go.
It means you can get pretty creative in your approach in both how you counsel others and how you run your business which is nice, but it also means that there are very few means of separating yourself from the people on Instagram that prance around calling themselves life coaches, when in reality, all they do is throw their opinions at people and repeat the same plateaus about not giving up, not making excuses and so forth.
Also, good luck explaining to your parents and most everyone else what you do for a living.
Defining Life Coaching
I will say that if I were to define life coaching in its most general way that the most people would be apt to agreeing with, it’s ultimately helping people uncover what they’d like to do with any facet of their lives, working with them to create realistic steps towards those goals, and holding them accountable to taking those steps. This is something worth remembering as you enter your study and work as a life coach.
Coaching vs. Therapy vs. Psychiatry
What’s also, perhaps more important to remember, is what life coaching is not.
Therapists, while there are many types and just as many acronyms, typically help people discover the sources of their struggles through hard questioning and deep psychological dives into their pasts. Then, depending on the type of therapy they’re educated in and what discoveries are made, different types of action will be taken to help clients recover. Life coaches are not therapists.
Psychiatrists will sometimes provide the same therapeutic techniques as a therapist, but more often work in tandem with them to prescribe medications to clients per the therapists findings should they feel the client needs medication. Life coaches are not psychiatrists.
And since you’ve found me, a life coach hosting a show that’s all about giving advice, it’s especially important to remind you that life coaches are not advice columnists. What I do here is very different than what I’d do in session with a life coaching client.
Though you’ll find significantly more life coachiness here than you would in typical advice columns, life coaching is not about just giving advice and telling people what to do in short, dense responses without a proper back and forth and with limited information on the person seeking help.
What Services Can You Provide as an LGBT Life Coach?
So, while all clients have different needs and all coaches have (and have the freedom to have) different styles, it’s extremely important to know what services you can realistically provide. Any time clients come to me with goals that pertain to overcoming a type of trauma, I take pride in immediately referring them to a therapist.
Mind you, I’ve had many clients that will work with me while also working with a therapist, and a few that have had psychiatrists, too. This is ideal, because you can ensure that the client is getting different types of help if necessary, and you can focus more on playing your part as an LGBT life coach specifically.
Is there bound to be a lot of crossover between therapy and life coaching? There certainly can be. So if you have a client whose problems run deeper than just wanting to be more productive or find a new job, I advise you to be clear with them from the beginning about what services you can and can’t provide.
Stay Educated on Psychology and Coaching
With that being said, it never hurts to educate yourself as much as possible, about both coaching and therapy. I’m regularly reading psychology books, research, essays and articles to help me be more effective with all clients and people who submit questions to the show, regardless of how deep their problems run. I recommend you do the same.
I also recommend you get certified like I did. Clients don’t know coaching schools the way they know Ivy league schools, but ICF is the best place for you to find high caliber coaching schools. ICF stands for International Coaching Federation and their resources can be found at coachingfederation.org. There are plenty of fine programs that aren’t ICF certified and are less expensive, but ICF is the best place to start.
I once saw an ad on Facebook for a $25 coaching certification program which was highly depressing. What a complete joke. You really have to lead with the intent to help people and that means putting in the work and being as sharp as you can. Just because coaching is loosely defined doesn’t mean you should shortcut your way into it or that you should consider yourself an expert simply because you feel you have something unique to say. Join the club.
And many people do that which is absurd and very sad when people are trusting you with issues that deeply trouble them.
Other Educational Opportunities
So study, study, study. Though if you look hard enough, you’ll find that there are plenty of opportunities to study and/or sharpen these skills outside of a classroom.
One thing that worked to my advantage in doing the work that I do is the natural tendency I’ve always had to question everything (probably too much), search for meaning at all costs, and try to explore things beyond their most reasonable explanations or my instinctual feelings towards them. Whether or not you fall into these types of assessments on your own, the good news is that they always can and should be practiced.
Look for opportunities around you – including in places that you’ve maybe tricked yourself into thinking aren’t serving you like your corporate job (which I’d recommend keeping or replacing with something else until your amount of coaching clients is steadily climbing).
Observe and Question
Look for patterns in people. What do they say over and over? What do they complain about but not take action towards fixing, and why might they not be taking that action?
If people are behaving poorly, can you skip past judging them and instead consider why they might be conditioned to do so? How can you help people come to realizations on their own rather than spoon-feeding them your thoughts?
What are the differences from person to person, rather than group to group? This will be especially important if you want to focus within the LGBT+ community. It’s great to have a niche as a coach, but critical to remember that not all LGBT+ people have the same experiences, viewpoints, history, memories, opinions, etc. just because they share one common factor.
If you can start develop healthy means of questioning in your own life, you’ll be in a better position to help others do the same, which will lead to creative goal setting techniques and discoveries that you or your clients may not have had before.
This, alongside learning the more technical parts of coaching in a quality life coaching program, will put you on the right track.
Best of luck to you, asker! Truly. And whether or not you find that being an LGBT life coach is something you want to stick with, kudos for wanting to help people out and bring change. I also commend you for answering the bell and diving in after realizing that your current work is dissatisfying.
That’s one thing that I probably see the most as a coach and you can expect to see the same. I’m always proud when I see people challenge the comforts of a job that’s stable yet unfulfilling. Very good.
And to all of you listeners, I hope you were able to take something from this episode, whether it be about how you can look at others in a different way, or perhaps you’ve even found some motivation to change your current work situation if you know you’re dissatisfied with it. Either way, I thank you all for being here and supporting yet another episode of OLA. Bye guys.