Choosing a Life Coach

“If you are frustrated with an aspect of your life, not sure how to stop making the same choices you keep making or just want to have more happiness, peace of mind and passion — life coaching can do that for you.” ~Rhonda Britten, founder of the Fearless Living Institute.

What is a Life coach?

Great question.  Life Coaches are  similar to counselors, or therapists yet there are fundamental differences. Coaching focuses on the quality of a clients personal life, relationships and overall physical life. Life coaching addresses these issues from a present time perspective with emphasis on client- centered evaluation and goal setting. From a Life Coaching  perspective the client holds the key to their own transformation. It is the coaches responsibility to highlight and illuminate the clients key strengths, gifts, teach new skills, and better manage life changes, health, and personal challenges. Life coaching is an evolving and engaging practice that is flexible, supportive, non-judgmental, and
compassionate.

From a coaching perspective, what is showing up in our lives, our bodies, and our relationships are direct reflections of the condition of our inner world; our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. To create real change in our lives it is necessary to excavate and undo often deeply buried, unconscious programs and habits.

What is the difference between a Life Coach and a Therapist?

A fundamental difference between a Life coach and other therapy professions is that coaching doesn’t claim to have the answers. A coach’s job is not to go over old ground, be past-orientated or to profess information, but to work with clients to help them find the answers themselves.

Therapists and counselors are recognized as experts who focus largely on cleaning up and/or completing old issues. Coaching takes a different approach, reaching into the magical realms of manifestation, designing one’s life, and forwarding action to realize one’s dreams. Coaches act as partners, helping clients to recognize their own abilities to find the right direction and to address challenges along the way.

Coaches are works in progress. They are in-the-making models of what it means to fully learn, be fully effective, and be on the path to creating a more and more joyful and fulfilling life. Staying on the journey and experiencing the joy and excitement of being in the process of realizing our own dreams and purpose is part of what we model for our clients.

Are you licensed?

Because there are no legal requirements for life-coach training or certification, anyone can call him or herself a life coach. Though anyone can use the title “life coach,” coaches can receive accreditation from authorities such as the International Coach Federation or the International Association of Coaching. These and other accrediting associations offer hands-on training and classroom courses in core competencies and coaching ethics, after which students must take a coaching exam to earn to earn their accreditation or certification. Though not legally necessary, this type of certification serves as a benchmark among professional coaches.

Are you certified?

 Not all life coaches are certified by an accredited professional school. Coaching is a self-regulated profession, which means anyone can call themselves a coach, regardless of training. Certification is very important because life coaching is a profession that requires very specific skills, ethical standard and a foundation of training, which is only taught in qualified schools. When looking for a coach, make sure to inquire about specific coach training and certification.

Aleka Thorvalson has advanced training and certification from one of the most highly acclaimed coach training institutions in the United States, the International Coaching Academy. This certification requires rigorous training and supervised practice. The ICA is fully accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), which is the organization that sets and monitors the international standards for professional coaching ethics, training and practices.

Additionally, Aleka has earned the prestigious Professional Certified Coaching (PCC) credentials from the ICF.  This means she has demonstrated advanced coaching skills, experience, theory, and practice, documenting more than750 hours of coaching.

What does Holistic Mean?

The basic principles of holism are not new, having been around at least since the time of Hippocrates in the West, 2500 years ago, and even earlier in the Eastern healing traditions of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Throughout history the healers and physicians who practiced the art and science of holistic medicine, all treated the whole person – body, mind and spirit.

Holistic means “holism”, which theoretically states that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in their relation to the whole. Imagine the body trying to function without the heart. The body cannot exist separately without the heart. But together as a whole they have a functional relationship. As such, all aspects of a person, the physical, mental, emotion and spiritual aspects of a person must be taken into account for positive change.

Holistic care means that you take into account the physical, mental, and emotional well-being and health when treating or preventing disease. What this looks like in practice is that you do not just try to fix individual symptoms; look at the individual trees but don’t lose sight of the forest.

What is a Holistic Life Coach?

We are so much more than blood, chemistry, bones and cellular tissue. We are beings of energy and spirit as well. We are complex, multi-systemic beings, and the symptoms of illness have meaning only within this larger context, not in isolation. Holistic Life Coaching then, focuses on all of the aspects of a client’s life. Holistic Life Coaches, engaged in the business of caring, typically guide their clients in a process of healing to include nurturing themselves physically, environmentally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially. A Holistic Life Coach has the ability to understand the details of the underlying causes for disease and stress, and view the body and person as a system within a system.

I believe that each client possesses an “inner healer” of sorts, which is something that is known to reside in our hearts. Holistic life coaching also seeks to connect clients with the miraculous nature of reality, where anything is possible and positive things are happening all around us.  Often times, clients will need to be coached to step outside of their comfort zones, which is most likely where they are now, and to do things differently – and thus create different results. Holistic Life Coaching tends to be very healing, unleashing new energy and clarity.

You mention spirituality, do you mean religious?

There is a tendency for some people to think of religion when they hear the words holism or holistic. This is not accurate and would be far too limited in trying to describe what holism means. Also confusing to some is the term spirituality; as part of a holistic approach, it is not necessarily a religious entity that is referenced. An individual with no religious affiliation could still view life from a holistic perspective, provided there is something of substance in their spirit. Spirituality is not necessarily a religious affiliation and is actually more secular in its meaning. While the terms spirituality and religion can both refer to the search for the Absolute or God, an increasing number of people have come to see the two as separate entities, religion being just one way in which humans can experience spirituality. Cultural historian and yogi William Irwin Thompson states, “Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization.”

 According to one poll, some 24(±4)% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious. One might say then, that a key difference is that religion is a type of formal external search, while spirituality is defined as a search within oneself. One might also say that spirituality is the path itself, rather than the goal: the attitude and the way a person chooses to live rather than a goal they must reach.

Since spirituality is understood as the search for (or the development of) inner peace or the foundations of happiness, then spiritual practice of some kind is essential for personal well-being. This includes any activity that one associates with cultivating spirituality. Seeking is an integral part of who we are. Whether we realize it or not, we are on a quest. Holistic coaching puts life into the context of this quest, where we connect with the divine wisdom of the soul as our guide. Thus,Holistic Life Coaching includes helping people to seek, discover, and embrace the magnificence of their true identities, or divine selves, and to bring spirit fully into form.

Do you have references? 

A competent coach will have satisfied clients who have made significant changes in their lives. Therefore, they should be willing to share quality references with potential clients.

References for Aleka’s work are available upon request. Also, there are many detailed testimonials on her website.

For more information you can visit the International Coaching Federation’s frequently asked questions page.

For more information about the ethics and regulations I adhere to please visit the International Coaching Federation’s ethics and regulation page.