Coaching for life

By Natalia PiknaLex Kleren

Business is booming for life coaches, even in Luxembourg. They promise success anywhere from professional advancement to stress management or spirituality. Anyone can become a coach, so what marks them apart from therapists, and do mental health experts recommend them to the public?

According to the LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise Surveys of 2021 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, life coaching is among the top 15 fastest-growing jobs.

The first question one might ask is what is a life coach? Unfortunately, there is no hard and clear definition of the term, which arguably sets up most of the issues associated with the profession. The International Coaching Federation (ICF), a private institution which awards most coaching certificates globally, defines life-coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential". Coursera, a popular massive open online learning platform which offers degrees, states "a life coach partners with clients as they work toward a more ideal version of their life." A variant of such definitions can be found just about everywhere, but all of them are arguably quite vague. What is ideal? And how would you define someone’s potential?

Blurred Lines

This terminology issue means it would also be very hard to conduct any scientific research on this practice, as first ''any kind of study would need to define how they sampled life coaches'' explains Claus Vögele, Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Luxembourg. Furthermore, each coach promises different results, meaning there is no consensus among them, as opposed to psychotherapy. ''With life coaches, there is no real outcome that you can examine, so there is not a lot of empirical data out there, '' adds Philip Santangelo, Associate Professor within the Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences at the University. Although data is backing a more specific type of coaching that is provided for organisations, it is quite different from life coaching, not the least because it does not focus on any specific person’s issues.

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