That was my initial response when I first heard about life coaching, over fifteen years ago. Back then it was probably less prevalent than it is today, where we now have a bewildering array of coaches to choose from – executive coaches, spiritual coaches, relationship coaches – and so on!

Anyway, back to my first impressions when I heard that there is such a thing as a “life coach”, who you would pay hefty fees to, for essentially telling you how to live your life. No thanks, I thought, let someone else pay for the ‘privilege’! At the same time though, my curiosity was piqued. A little part of me remained curious, and wondered, could it be possible that I needed some direction in my own life? That I might benefit from coaching? Looking back, I am glad I remained curious. Eventually I succumbed (albeit, 10 or so years later) and saw a life coach – and was hooked!

Fast forward to today, and I am a life coach myself. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a frivolous decision – I had always been passionate about psychology and psychotherapy, and it was just a matter of time until I would have entered this field, or something related, as a second career. But there was a reason I chose life coaching over psychotherapy – and that reason is to do with human potential.

You see, although I loved relating to others, finding out what made them tick, and helping them to move forward in any way I could – I always found psychotherapy too focused on what could be wrong with somebody. I also found the dynamic between “therapist” and “patient” too hierarchical. Of course, I understand that some conditions are better dealt with through psychotherapy, and there are professional boundaries that circumscribe both practises, but there is also some overlap.

If I am feeling “stuck” in my life, who do I go to? If I know I have this amazing potential, as I believe we all do – but somehow am finding it hard to move forward, and make those changes – who do I need to see? A therapist, who I might see weekly for years, as I explore my past in detail, and how that might be impacting my present? Or a life coach, who will arm me with some very sophisticated techniques, will work with me, to propel me on my path of transformation?

(Bear in mind that looking at how the past may impact your present is also part of life coaching, and examining how your culture and upbringing fit into this can also be addressed. I am seeing a rise of Asian clients in my practice today, and such issues do come up. Of course, I can use my own experiences as a British Asian woman here to address some of these issues – which is one of the things I offer that differentiates me from other coaches).

It was a life coach I settled on – and I’m glad I did, or I probably wouldn’t be enjoying my work so much today or be working in an area that inspires me with new possibilities – otherwise I’d be stuck in a job that I wasn’t so excited about.

I must admit, I did wonder before I saw my first life coach, how an “ordinary” person could somehow coach me to be better, to achieve my dreams. I soon realised that not only could the powerful blend of techniques such as hypnotherapy, NLP and even emotional freedom therapies be used to help clients tap into their own potential in amazing ways; and that both past issues and future dreams could be dealt with through powerful present based techniques; but also, that most coaches practice these techniques on themselves. And that makes them a little “less ordinary”. After all, what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t practice what I preached?

It may seem new-fangled, a modern invention – but coaching, in one form or another, has been around for centuries. People helping other people to achieve their potential is not a new thing. It took off in the 70s, in the area of sports coaching, and then made its way into the corporate world. Now it has diversified, which is a good thing.

Whatever its context, coaching is a forward-looking, enjoyable and collaborative process between coach and client. There may be some difficult bumps along the way (but that is inevitable on the road to self-empowerment!) Since my own coaching I haven’t looked back, and my passion for helping other people get to where they want to be, drives me forward on mine.

It is now accepted wisdom within the coaching and self-help field that many excellent performers and successful people have had a coach or mentor. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Serena Williams are just a few examples. It is a choice – either remain stuck where you are, muddle along feeling, at best, vaguely enthusiastic about life – or consider whether you too, may benefit from the kick-start that good coaching can provide.


Sobia Quazi is a life coach and hypnotherapist at Gold Circle Therapy and Coaching. She provides integrated, holistic coaching.