Life Coaches—Helping Others Discover Their Path Towards Potential

By Yvonne Bustamante, Purdue Global Human Services Faculty

When I discovered life coaching I knew I had found my calling. Currently, I specialize in spiritually-based life coaching. As a life coach I work from within a strengths perspective. I help my clients discover their strengths and then guide them into unlocking their own potential using these strengths.

Coaching should not be confused with counseling. A counselor can be a coach, but a coach is not a counselor. While I am educated and trained as a counselor, I struggled with the profession’s dictate to “diagnose” clients. As soon as we need to assign a diagnosis, we have need to make a judgment and a diagnosis is too close to a label in my mind.  Instead, I believe we each need to walk our own path and, as a coach, I help people discover this path.

Skilled Questioning Guide Clients 

Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I work with clients in the box at the top of the pyramid: the self-actualization box. I am honored to journey with my clients on a quest to help them reach their potential, and discover their own purpose, missions, callings, and dreams. The main tool of the profession is “questioning.” Coaches need to be skilled in asking clients powerful questions—questions that will help clients find their own answers. Coaches are not advice givers, but guides. This can be compared to a trail guide who shows hikers the path, but lets the hikers form their own vision of the beauty around them.

A Collaborative Approach Help Clients Envision Achievements 

With this being said, it is important to make a distinction once again between counseling and coaching. Coaches work in collaboration with healthy clients who are searching for ways to meet goals, build their talents, and achieve their dreams. Clients can include individuals, couples, families, or businesses and organizations.

There are four main areas coaches can specialize in, these include:

  • Executive coaching 
  • Health and wellness coaching 
  • Career coaching 
  • Personal/life coaching 

Moreover, within each of these areas, coaches should find their own niche that sets them apart. In the end, coaches work side by side with clients, helping them build a vision and then become that vision.

Specialized Training and Education Are Required for Credentials in Specialty Areas  

In order to provide ethical services to clients, a coach should seek reputable credentialing. Presently, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) provides a credential as a Board Certified Coach (BCC). To earn this credential, a person must meet specific education, training, and experience requirements, along with passing an exam. In addition, most coaches will be self-employed and work independently. There are possibilities for working with firms as a coach; however, this requires some legwork to find these jobs.

In the end, I feel coaching, beyond just being a profession, is a calling. If you feel this might also be a profession and calling for you, I encourage you to do your homework and learn everything you can about the profession. Below are some reputable sources with information on coaching as a profession.

Mrs. Yvonne Bustamante, BCC, MS, is a proud full-time adjunct faculty in the human services program at Purdue Global. She has taught classes in human services, counseling, and psychology for the past 7 years and feels blessed that every day she can do something she loves. In addition to this, she is a Board Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education and provides spiritually-centered life coaching to individuals, couples, families and organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Keuka College and a master’s degree in counseling and applied behavioral analysis from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education in Counseling Psychology and just started her dissertation. 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.