A few years ago I was no longer enjoying the subservience of being led. Nothing to do with any form of repugnance towards my former employer, more towards the repugnance of my place in the world. That, on top of an instilled, yet not entirely justified sense that I was going backwards. Settling for the mundanity and affable securities that came with not taking risks.
Unfortunately I couldn’t afford a mid-life crisis, soothing feelings of futility with the purchase of a shiny new car. But I could at least afford help from a certified Life Coach, someone who enabled me to crystallise my thoughts and help me directionally. Life coaching has its roots in 70’s American vogue for motivational talks and self-help books, (How to make everyone love you, How to date out of your league) which have always been notoriously sickly-sweet and upbeat in their mission to motivate the masses. Whilst Life coaching has matured in the US, British are stereotypically stoic and modest in nature, so reports suggests it takes on a much different guise over here.
Introducing Sally Ann Law a personal and business life coach, based in North London. She has been coaching individual and executive clients for about ten years. With a doctorate in psychology and over two decades of experience in individual and organisational change and development, her training and background in this field has led her to believe that effective coaching needs to take into account the whole person and their life in context, not just focus on isolated behaviours.
What’s the difference between a Life Coach and a Therapist?
Well, both involve talking and listening to people and helping them with their lives. However, therapy is more suitable for people who are struggling to get on track due to some trauma or unresolved issues from their past, whereas coaching is about helping people who are generally feeling mentally strong who want to identify and make progress towards goals for a more positive future. I think a helpful analogy to understand the difference between the 2 is to think of a car. In coaching, the primary focus is on looking forwards through the windscreen, using the rear view and side mirrors sometimes to put something in context, whereas therapy relies more on the rear and side mirrors to investigate the past, glancing through the windscreen more and more as progress is made.
What do people expect to change in their life when they come and see you?
It varies a great deal. Some clients want to focus on making changes related to their careers, whereas others want to talk about their life outside of work. I think the majority however end up examining aspects of their lives as a whole. I think what most of my clients have in common is the desire to make some positive changes and to feel differently about themselves as a result.
Should you see a Life coach even if you’re successful?
Yes, of course. Many of my clients are very successful people indeed – in fact most are. It’s actually always easier to make changes when things are generally good and people are feeling strong. Coaching is about helping people make the most of their skills, experiences and interests and opening up opportunities for positive change – and there’s always room for improvement!
Is it generally people with low self esteem that seek your expertise?
No, not at all. But in any case, it can be hard to figure out how you truly feel about yourself. It’s often through dialogue with a coach for instance, that a client (even a very successful one) will realise that perhaps their sense of self-worth is not where it could or should be. That’s not a problem, however, as making real positive change starts with self-awareness and a determination to do something about what’s holding a person back.
Do you do weekly sessions or monthly programs? How long does it take or is an ongoing process?
I let my clients chose whether they’d prefer to book on a session by session basis or whether they would prefer to book a block of sessions over 6, 9 or 12 months. Some people come for only one session to talk about something very specific then go off to implement whatever decision they have made. Others come on a regular basis for a catch up, say once a month, to discuss progress, evaluate setbacks, review goals and maintain momentum. It varies client by client.
Would an American life coach work over here or would it conflict with our mentality?
I really can’t answer that question but what I can say is that rapport between coach and client is key to coaching success. I don’t think necessarily the nationality of either one is much of a factor. The coach needs to have the necessary background, skills, experience and empathy to do their work and the client needs to be willing to be honest and explore what’s really going on for them. A successful coaching relationship is one founded on trust and mutual respect.
How much can people expect to spend?
I think the way to look at coaching is as a (hopefully) valuable investment in personal and professional growth and development. Coaches have various pricing policies. My own fees are listed on my website and attached here for illustration.