What is a Life Coach and how can they help you?

A lot of people ask me how I find ideas for my blog. Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. I think they’re not really my ideas. I think The Universe is pointing me in the right direction. And now it’s telling me I need to dig a little deeper into what a Life Coach is and how they can help you.

Why? How? What?

Ok, let me explain.

Everywhere I look these days, life coaching is coming up. It all started when my friend Patricia from Empowering You massively helped me with making a move from my old job last year. She was talking to me as a friend, but I know she was ‘using her tricks’ and asking me all the right questions along the way. Then I had an actual (more formal) session with a Life Coach, and if that wasn’t intense, I don’t know what is! And since then, I’ve come across and interacted with some fantastic Life Coaches online. A few weeks ago, I even got to learn all about why Olympians also work with Life Coaches! (More on this coming soon).

So yes, at the moment, The Universe is telling me it’s all about Life Coaches! Which is why I’m very excited to share a few interviews I’ve had with some fantastic Life Coaches. First one up is Emily Hodge, who has the honour and difficult job of helping me understand what a life coach is and what they can do for people like you and me.

Emily Hodge what is a life coach and how they can help you with your life

Supporting you through challenge and change

This is Emily’s strap line. And to me, that doesn’t sound like an easy job. At all. Challenges and changes come in way too many shapes and forms. Plus, they are both notoriously hard for a lot of us. How can someone be able to support you through any challenge or change that you’re facing in your life?

Emily has a background working for the NHS as a Health Psychologist, and she was introduced to coaching following her experience of being diagnosed (6 years ago) with bowel cancer. After getting better, Emily worked with a Career Coach who could help her get back to work after the trauma she experienced. But whilst the coaching she received was helpful, it couldn’t help with the specific challenge she had faced in her personal life – having cancer. Which is why Emily now works with people who’ve been through cancer to help them with integrating their post-cancer life into who they want to be, how they want to live, and how they cope with the trauma and change during their illness and recovery. And if she can help someone do that, I can personally start to see how she can help with life’s other challenges too!

Coaching is a process

To compliment the CBT-based training that she had already undertaken to become a Health Psychologist, a few years ago Emily took an NLP coaching diploma, which helped her put the practice and theory into a process that she could use to help people on a more personal level, in line with their individual needs.

Because of her focus on working with people affected by cancer, Emily helps with a variety of challenges. These can be related to mental well-being, when people experience anxiety and PTSD, for example, but also fertility, changes in relationships or loss of confidence. Emily can help you to work on your drive, resilience, confidence and fitness, just to name a few. A coach can help anyone who wants to change their mindset and focus whilst gaining clarity in their choices after a big change, or whilst trying to make that big change. Life coaching can help you to look at your life and organise it in a different way.

And doesn’t that sound brilliant?

What coaching isn’t

Coaching isn’t counselling. I absolutely loved this definition that Emily gave me: “Counselling helps you to process your past and take that into your present. Coaching takes you, as you are today, and helps you to shape your future.”Emily Hodge logo what is a life coach and how can they help you in your life

Let’s pause for a second. How powerful is this?

What Emily told me, and every other coach I’ve spoken to since, is that a good coach will understand (and quite honestly tell you) if what you need or could benefit from is counselling, rather than coaching.

So how exactly does a coach help you to move forward?

Emily explained that people will approach a Life Coach with different needs – some may want some value testing, while others may need someone who’s good at listening and understanding what they’re going through. Or it could be that people just need someone to keep them accountable and stay on track with the changes they want to make.

The bottom line is that a Life Coach’s job isn’t to tell you what to do. As friendly and approachable as they are, they are there to challenge you. To help you look at your own life and make the changes that YOU want to make. Whatever they are.

Do we have a problem with the term ‘Life Coach’?

I’ll be honest. I was sceptical. Why would I need a coach? I’m not a football player or a musician! What does a LIFE Coach focus on anyway? Are they just someone to talk you? Why would I pay someone to talk to me? Surely you have your partner or your friends that you can talk to?

But of course, we’ve established now that a coach isn’t just someone to talk to. Not like a friend. For me, a coach is someone who can help you get ‘unstuck’. And maybe you don’t call it being ‘stuck’, but do you ever have moments where you feel you’re going round and round in circles in your head and not coming to any sort of logical or useful conclusion? It happened to me when I was going through the process of leaving my job.

Whatever you call the feeling, isn’t it just amazing to know there are people who can help you to move forward? Isn’t it great to know that you and I could have a coach? Someone who helps when life gets a bit more complicated and convoluted than we’d like it to be?

I think so.

And if we don’t want to call them Life Coaches because that’s a bit confusing and doesn’t really tell you what they do, let’s not call them that.

But let’s make sure we do call one when we could do with the help!

Have you come across or worked with a Life Coach before? How did they help you? Or would you now consider working with a Coach? 

If you would like to get in touch with Emily Hodge, you can find her on her website or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She also runs the Facebook group Moving Forward from Cancer. Not only is she friendly – she certainly tells it like it is too.



  1. Moira
    15th June 2017 / 7:50 am

    Great interview. You have given valuable insight into the benefits of a life coach; a ‘title/role’ often little understood. You also said what it is not, which is equally as valuable.

    • Sara
      15th June 2017 / 2:01 pm

      Thank you Moira – glad you like it! You’re right – not many people who haven’t worked with one know what they do!

  2. LNweaver
    18th August 2017 / 12:39 am

    That’s interesting that coaching focuses on shaping your future. I can see how that’s different from counseling. I haven’t been able to progress very far in my work and may be I’ve been getting into destructive patterns. I bet a coach might be able to help with that.

    • Sara
      18th August 2017 / 10:59 am

      Hi Larry, sorry to hear you feel you haven’t been able to progress in your work. But yes, a coach may be able to help if you’re willing to work with one. Good luck with everything!

  3. 2nd November 2017 / 1:35 pm

    I liked Emily’s explanation of the difference between counseling and coaching, and as I’ve already processed my past and ready for the future, I need a life coach. I liked that you pointed out that a coaching is a process, and I am fine with this as my life is not as it was earlier as I’ve just lost my beloved. I have gone through denial and acceptance, and now I just want to shape my future. I hope that a life coach can help me.

    • Sara
      2nd November 2017 / 3:59 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. A coach can definitely help you with moving on and shaping your life. If you’re reading this, I think Emily would be perfect. Feel free to contact her if you see fit. Wishing you the best of luck with the future.

  4. 21st April 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Thank you for this terrific article focusing on life coaching. Life coaching is definitely gaining recognition and popularity, as mentioned in your article, because it works! I appreciate your explanation of what it is and what it can do and how it can move people forward. I also appreciate your detailed explanation of exactly what a life coach does and doesn’t do.

    • Sara
      22nd April 2018 / 6:34 pm

      Glad you liked it James!

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