Life coaching

Life coaching or personal coaching is all about getting the very best out of people and enabling them to make decisions that will improve the overall quality of their life. Unlike counselling (which can delve back as far as earliest childhood looking for explanations for current behaviours and attitudes), life coaching focuses on the present and the future. It is personalized and can help people to make changes (transitions) in their life. Coaching makes no assumptions, it's not judgmental, prescriptive, or instructional. And it can help a person to gain a greater understanding of themself.

Who needs a life coach?

life coaching

Life coaching aims to get the best out of people can be used by anyone wanting to improve some aspect of their life. A person might want a new job or career, they might want to find more self confidence, they might want to get rid of a destructive habit, they might want a better balance between their working and home lives, or for many other reasons.

Anyone looking to change some aspect of their life can probably benefit from life coaching.

Coaching methods

Sessions last 30 minutes or an hour and usually involve conversations – although often hypnosis can be included. Sessions usually happen weekly. The number of sessions depends on the problem to be overcome, but typically there are between 4 and 8. All sessions are completely confidential, and are relaxed, friendly, fun, and positive experiences. Personal coaching sessions can take place in person, over the phone, or using Skype.

It is not the role of a life coach to tell a client what to do. Rather, through active listening and by asking careful questions, coaches encourage clients to find understanding in their lives, and the answers they need.

Life coaches use a range of tools to help clients decide whether they need to make changes to their life and to discover the choices available to them, and then to decide what to do next. A good coach will be solution or goal-focused and will work with clients to help them find the appropriate answers for themselves.

Let's look at some coaching models.

The GROW model is, perhaps, the best known coaching model. GROW stands for:

  • Goal setting – sets goals for the session as well as short and long-term goals.
  • Reality checking or current reality – questions and explores the current situation and any conflicts.
  • Options – what alternative strategies or courses of action are available and what Obstacles are in the way.
  • Ws – What is to be done, When, by Whom, and establishing the Will to do it (or motivational reasoning behind the progression goal).

The GROW model was developed by a number of authors including Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore.

The TGROW coaching model was adapted from the GROW model by Myles Downey in his book, ‘Effective Coaching’. The T stands for Topic, which is what the coachee wants to address. This is bigger than the Goal.

The next acronym on our list is ACHIEVE, which was developed by Dr Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge. ACHIEVE stands for:

  • Assess the current situation – using rapport building, the use of open-ended questions, and active listening, the coach examines every aspect of the coachee’s life.
  • Creatively brainstorm alternatives – this gets coachees passed that feeling of being stuck.
  • Hone goals –and makes sure that they are SMART. (It’s an acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related.)
  • Initiate options – let the client make the suggestions, even if it means sitting in silence for a while.
  • Evaluate options – sometimes taking a break before evaluating options can help.
  • Valid action plan design – concrete steps are planned.
  • Encourage momentum – provide encouragement and keep on track.

OSKAR uses solution-focused techniques and was developed by Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow. The process has two main thrusts – identify exceptions to bad things and doing more of the things that work. OSKAR stands for:

  • Outcome – what does the coachee want from coaching/what do they want from today’s session?
  • Scaling – on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing the worst it has ever been and 10 the preferred future, where would the coachee put the situation today? What would have to happen for you to be n+1? How would they know?
  • Know how and resources – what helps the coachee to be at n? When do they already get a better outcome? What did they do to make that happen?
  • Affirm and action – what's already going well? What is the next small step?
  • Review – what did the coachee do that made the change happen? What effects have the changes had?

There’s also the SUCCESS coaching model, where SUCCESS stands for:

  • Session planning – what actions will they commit to? What challenges did they face since the previous session?
  • Uplifting experiences – ensure the coachee remembers their successes.
  • Charting your course – working on a goal.
  • Creating opportunities – what opportunities exist or can be created to help the coachee move forward?
  • Expectations and commitments – how committed is the coachee to their goal?
  • Synergy – does the coachee’s feelings match the goal.
  • Summary – what did the client get out of the session.

There’s the STEPPPA coaching model, where, they believe, behaviour is driven by emotion, therefore, actions are motivated by how emotionally committed to a goal people feel. STEPPPA stands for:

  • Subject – what does the coachee want to talk about?
  • Target identification – choose a target and keep it in focus.
  • Emotion – is the goal worth it, how does the coachee feel about it?
  • Perception and choice – what does the goal mean to the coachee?
  • Plan – what the coachee is going to do.
  • Pace – measuring progress
  • Adapt or act – do something to achieve a goal.

The CLEAR coaching model was devised Peter Hawkins, where CLEAR stands for:

  • Contracting – establishing the outcomes the coachee wants to achieve.
  • Listening – active listening to help the coachee understand their current situation and possible solutions.
  • Exploring – helping the coachee to understand the impact or effect that a situation or behaviour has on their lives. And challenging the coachee to look at options for how to resolve the situation or change a behaviour.
  • Action – choosing the next step.
  • Review – looking at what’s been achieved.

The RAPPORT model was devised by Seth M Bricklin as a way to increase emotional intelligence in executives. RAPPORT stands for:

  • Relationship
  • Assessment
  • Provide feedback
  • Plan for action
  • Organize change
  • Review progress
  • Think ahead for growth

Dr Ron Muchnick came up with The SOLVE coaching model in his book, ‘Coaching : How to Solve Executive Coaching Issues’. SOLVE stand for:

  • State the problem
  • Observe the problem resolved
  • List exceptions
  • Verify the plan
  • Execute.

The ARROW model is similar to GROW and was developed by Matt Somers, author of ‘Coaching at Work’. It adds reflection as an important part of the coaching process. ARROW stands for:

  • Aims
  • Reality
  • Reflection
  • Options
  • Way Forward

And there are many other acronyms that can help in a coaching situation. But whichever one you choose, as long as it’s helping the coachee overcome a problem or achieve a goal, it has been worthwhile. And it can help your clients to a successful future.


A single one-hour session costs £85.00; a 30-minute session costs £50.