Your Ultimate Life Coaching Tools Library (+PDF & Exercises)

life coaching resource exercises courses

What is the role of a life coach?

While the title of ‘life coach’ may sound a little vague at face value, a talented life coach can empower clients to find new levels of fulfillment and achieve rewarding goals across both the personal and professional domains.

These goals can span many areas, including relationships, careers, and health, allowing life coaches to have a broad impact.

In this post, we’ll outline some key psychological theories on which the practice of life coaching is based, recommend ten exercises and assessment tools for your practice, and give you tips for finding a suitable life coaching accreditation course.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

What is Life Coaching (and What is it Not)?

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

Timothy Gallwey

A life coach is someone to whom you formally turn when seeking guidance or advice regarding challenges, decisions, or questions in your life.

The impetus for seeking a life coach often comes when a person reaches a crossroads or feels stuck. To resolve this, a life coach will draw on approaches from psychology, counseling, sociology, and sometimes business to help individuals set and pursue personally meaningful goals. These goals may center on several possible development areas, including relationships, career progression, creative pursuits, and more.

In contrast, life coaching is not therapy or counseling, which pairs a mental health professional with a client seeking guidance around mental wellness. Life coaching also differs from mentorship and training, whereby a professional is paired with a more experienced professional, often in a workplace or industry setting.


Life Coaching History: The Origin of Modern Coaching

Life coaching has grown out of decades of research in social psychology, clinical psychology, and professional coaching. The practice primarily has its roots in humanistic and transpersonal psychology (Williams, 2012).


The Influence of Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic psychology views human behavior from a whole-person perspective and attempts to understand and explain behavior from the individual’s perspective instead of the observer’s. In this practice, we place importance on the client’s perspective and emotions, rather than the psychologist’s opinions or directives.

The takeaway of this for life coaches is that advice given is not prescriptive. The emphasis of coaching is not on giving directives to the client as much as it is about understanding their goals.

Life coaching also draws from humanistic psychology to adopt a foundation of unconditional positive regard in the coaching relationship. Coaches always accept clients as they are, viewing and treating them as inherently worthy and deserving of love (Williams, 2012).

This attitude is intentional on the coach’s part and ensures that the coaching relationship functions as a safe and constructive space for the client to work on their goals.


Contributions of Transpersonal Psychology

Transpersonal psychology is a subfield of psychology that dares to tread (where few psychologists do) in the soul’s arena. This field of study includes theories and practices that explore self-actualization, and spirituality (Lajoie & Shapiro, 1992).

Transpersonal psychology is concerned with human wholeness and integration. Likewise, life coaching often draws from the transpersonal psychology perspective to help clients achieve wholeness across their different selves or levels of consciousness (Williams, 2012).


Life Coaching Philosophy: 5 Theories that Drive the Practice

Sigmund Freud and the Unconscious

There are many coaching philosophy theories about the mechanism through which life coaching delivers results (Williams, 2012).

You can learn more about these in our dedicated post on the benefits of life coaching, but here’s a quick summary of five dominant perspectives.


1. Transformational Learning

Transformative learning theory argues that humans hold a specific worldview informed by their experiences. This worldview acts like a frame of reference, which affects how we interpret events, assign meaning to the things that happen to us, and interact with our environment (Mezirow, 1997).

Importantly, these frames of reference are elicited and operate unconsciously. This means that if we do not explore our frames of reference and understand our ingrained thought patterns, we remain at a disadvantage when we attempt to learn how to grow and change our habits.

Indeed, developing an awareness of how we unconsciously process events is central to life coaching philosophy and is often critical for achieving transformative change.


2. Emotional Intelligence

The theory of emotional intelligence (or EQ) posits that there are multiple types of intelligence beyond the commonly held idea of intelligence as a cognitive resource.

Emotional intelligence refers to our “ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in the self and others’’ (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000, p. 396).

Those high in emotional intelligence are thought to be effective at managing their own emotions and are good at identifying and considering others’ emotions. Conversely, those low in emotional intelligence rarely stop to think about what they are feeling and are more likely to misread others’ motives and intentions.

Theories of emotional intelligence have permeated many psychological fields of inquiry and practice, including life coaching. Specifically, life coaches use their knowledge of emotional intelligence to help clients recognize emotions as valuable sources of information (e.g., to understand one’s own or others’ motivations, values, needs, etc.).

Coaches can also tailor their teachings about emotional intelligence to apply to a range of personal and professional spheres. These can include management and leadership coaching, intimate relationships, and friendships/social networks.


3. Cognitive-Behavioral Theory

Cognitive-behavioral theory is grounded in the combination of behavior theory and cognitive theory. The principles of the theory are widely used in therapeutic settings to help clients understand their thoughts and change their reactions and behaviors (Benjamin et al., 2011).

A key model stemming from cognitive behavioral theory often drawn upon by life coaches is the ABC model. The theory describes a process whereby activating events (A) trigger beliefs (B), which lead to consequences (C) pertaining to our emotions and subsequent behaviors.

Life coaches are skilled at helping clients identify how distorted or irrational beliefs stemming from activating events may have negative consequences. They are also skilled at intervening by helping clients to challenge and change problematic beliefs in order to facilitate more positive consequences, such as lessened anxiety or increased adaptivity (Williams, 2012).


4. Experiential Learning Theory

Experiential learning theory is a model of adult learning that essentially argues the benefits of learning by doing. The theory posits that individuals learn through a cyclical process of concrete learning, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation (Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis, 2001).

A life coach can facilitate all phases of this cyclical process by encouraging clients to reflect on their actions and their consequences. For instance, within the context of the ABC model, coaches can invite clients to experiment with adopting new, more adaptive, beliefs in response to challenging activating events.

The hands-on principles of experiential learning apply well to coaching relationships, wherein the client is positioned as the driver of the relationship and the focus is on his/her day-to-day behaviors that serve as opportunities for experimentation and learning.


5. Life Coaching as an Art and a Science

While each of these theories has had a significant influence on the practice of life coaching, not all coaches draw explicitly from the literature to inform their practice. Indeed, many practitioners view their field as more of an art than a science.

For an example of how life coaching may be viewed as an art form, check out this TED talk from Tony Robbins where he explores the lessons he’s learned about coaching and the drivers of human behavior.

In the talk, Robbins paints a complex picture of intrapersonal discovery by immersion, leading to great transformation with each of his clients. And he draws from his own experience as much as, if not even more than, life coaching theories and research.

It’s clear that there is more to being an effective life coach than applying theories in a cookie-cutter type fashion. Instead, a good life coach will draw on a certain amount of intuition and personal experience to tailor their services to a particular client.


Life Coaching Basics: The Essentials for Effective Life Coaching

life coaching life coach toolsNow that you understand the theories that underpin the practice of life coaching, let’s go over some more requirements for life coaching to have benefits.


Assumptions for effective life coaching

First, life coaching operates on a few assumptions that are necessary for a successful coaching endeavor (Jarosz, 2016):

  1. In general, clients are mentally healthy and do not suffer from mental health issues that obstruct their ability to achieve their goals.

  2. Clients are not empty receptacles for the coach’s knowledge and experience but are creative, resourceful, adaptive, and whole in and of themselves.

  3. Clients possess the ability to change their thinking, belief systems, and behaviors in pursuing growth.

These three basic assumptions are critical for coaching to have benefits, so there is value in discussing them at the beginning of any coaching relationship to help set expectations.


Desirable coach behaviors for effective life coaching

As mentioned earlier, unconditional positive regard is one of several critical practices in life coaching relationships. However, there are several others that life coaches should also aim to practice (Jarosz, 2016):

  • Make no judgments or assumptions about the client (aside from the three listed above).

  • Become skilled in active listening.

  • Motivate clients by being challenging and empowering.

  • Support clients by acknowledging their efforts and successes and holding them accountable for their actions.

  • Remember that the coaching relationship is dynamic and be ready to adapt to the client’s changing needs.

  • Center the coaching around well-defined and achievable goals.


Positive messages for life coaching

Beyond the assumptions and behaviors listed above, life coaches should reinforce several key messages throughout their relationships with clients. These will empower clients to develop self-belief in their ability to improve their lives for the better (Jarosz, 2016):

  • Coaches should acknowledge and encourage what is good in the client and empower them to reach their greatest potential through their greatest strengths.

  • Coaches should maintain a safe and open environment for the client; the coach must create a space where clients feel safe enough to grow.

  • The coach and client must be on equal footing in the relationship, sharing the responsibility for defining and maintaining the coaching relationship.

  • Life coaching must be undertaken with a client-centered approach that focuses on the client as an individual with unique needs, strengths, and experience.

  • The focus is on the client’s entire self, not just specific aspects of the client’s personality or certain spheres of the client’s life.


Benefits of effective life coaching

Researchers have found that life coaching can have many benefits for those who undertake it. Here are a few of the most common (Jarosz, 2016):

  • A stronger sense of identity and purpose for the client.

  • A strengthened sense that the client is living the life they have dreamed about.

  • Enhanced mental health and increased quality of life (Clark et al., 2014).

  • The achievement of wide-ranging goals, which can include starting a business, expanding one’s social life, finding love, or improving health. Levers to achieve such change include SMART goal setting and pursuit, self-regulation, communication, and problem-solving skills (Green, Oades, & Grant, 2006).

  • Positive change in behavior and beliefs, including improved self-confidence, self-acceptance, and insight into one’s self (Grant, 2008).

  • Greater wellbeing, increased hope, and decreased stress (Grant, 2003; Green, Grant, & Rynsaardt, 2020).

It is worth noting that life coaching is often a fulfilling and positive experience for the coaches, too. The profession offers autonomy and flexibility, and life coaches often report gaining fulfillment from the collaborative relationships they share with their clients (Newnham-Kanas, Morrow, & Irwin, 2012).

Most importantly, there is immense satisfaction in watching a client’s life change for the better and knowing you had a hand in making that change a reality.


The Ultimate Life Coaching Tool

Coaching ActivitiesA mechanic is only as good as his tools, and the same principle applies to a Life Coach.

To be the best life coach, you need the best tool to make a difference in your client’s life, daily.

What better way than to be with your client through scheduled exercises, checks and workflows, provided by a smart app? You will be in your client’s pocket, and also able to reach more clients digitally than face to face, building a growing customer base.

The ultimate life coaching tool that provides these benefits is Quenza, an online tool that maximizes client outcomes with automated, customizable care pathways. You can select popular science-based assessments and exercises and other pre-made activities, assign them to your client, and keep track in real-time.

An ultimate tool needs ultimate security, and this application has been built from the ground up to be GDPR and HIPAA compliant with industry-standard AES-256 encryption, keeping your client notes and conversations secure.

For more information, visit the Quenza website, and craft your care.


3 General Life Coaching Exercises

Life coaching can be an incredibly rewarding career path. It’s a path that allows you to put your skills to use helping others, facilitating personal and professional growth. However, the role can also be challenging, as clients’ problems, challenges, and goals can span a variety of areas.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of resources, ranging from exercises, tools, and tips, to support you as a life coach. We encourage you to browse through them and see whether any may aid you in your coaching practice.

While every life coach will have their own favorite resources and methods, you’ll find some back-to-basics tools would be at home in almost any coach’s practice, so we’ll start by looking at three of these.


1. The Wheel of Life

wheel of life life coach exercises One of the life coach’s most valuable and versatile tools is the Wheel of Life.

It’s a simple and easy-to-use exercise that can help clients find out which areas of their lives are most satisfying and where they would like to focus their development efforts.

Leading the exercise with your client is simple. First, explain to your client that the Wheel of Life is a tool for identifying their satisfaction across the various domains of their life. These domains are:

  • Health
  • Friends & Family
  • Romance
  • Personal Growth
  • Fun & Recreation
  • Physical Environment
  • Business/Career
  • Finances

Next, ask your client to reflect on the factors that contribute to satisfaction in each of these domains.

For instance, in the category of finances, your client may respond that they are enjoying financial independence and have a strong safety net, showing they are likely satisfied in the area of finance. However, they may report that they lack challenge and learning opportunities in their day-to-day activities, suggesting room for improvement under personal growth.

Using this information, your client can draw a line across each segment that best represents the current level of satisfaction. The wheel’s center equals 1 (suggesting little to no satisfaction), and the edge of the wheel equals 10 (suggesting complete satisfaction).

Once the lines are all connected, the result looks a bit like a spider web and can give your client a general idea of their overall life satisfaction. This visual can then facilitate a discussion about strategies to improve satisfaction in the domains with lower scores.

You can find the Wheel of Life exercise and download a copy for yourself from the Positive Psychology Toolkit.


2. The Action Brainstorming Worksheet

The action brainstorming worksheet can help clients identify behaviors that are (and aren’t) serving them in their pursuit of goals.

To begin, your client identifies a goal they would like to pursue and writes it at the top of the page.

Next, you will work with your client to help them identify current or possible behaviors that may or may not support them in pursuing this goal. These are then written into one of five columns:

  1. Stop Doing: Behaviors the client would like to stop doing. These are behaviors that are not helpful for meeting their goal or actively harmful.

  2. Do Less of: Behaviors the client would like to do less of, such as those that are sometimes helpful but time-consuming or behaviors on which the client has become over-reliant.

  3. Keep Doing: Behaviors the client wants to keep doing with the same frequency because they remain useful for achieving their goal.

  4. Do More of: Behaviors the client wants to do more frequently because by doing so, they will improve their odds of achieving their goal or achieving it faster.

  5. Start Doing: Behaviors the client would like to do because they will be helpful or critical for achieving their goal.

This easy-to-use, one-page tool can be downloaded from the Coaching Tools Company website.


3. Understanding Our Goals

understanding our goals life coach tools

The ‘Understanding Our Goals’ worksheet should help clients identify whether their goals are worth their time and energy and prioritize goals in terms of their utility.

This worksheet begins by inviting your client to identify their top three current goals. Then, for each goal, your client is asked why they want to pursue that goal and what they hope to gain from achieving it.

The questions then drill down to address the real why behind goal pursuit, rooted in sought-after emotional experiences.

As an example, take the goal of losing twenty pounds.

An answer to the first question about why they want to pursue this goal may be: “To look and feel stronger.”

The answer to the second, deeper-level ‘why’ could be something like: “Achieving this goal will allow me to take pride in how strong my body is.”

The third ‘why’ may elicit a response like: “Taking pride in my body will help me feel better about myself overall.”

The response to the fourth ‘why’ may then be: “Feeling better about myself overall will help me to tackle my other goals and improve my quality of life.”

Finally, the answer to the ultimate question, “What will this goal help you feel?” might be something like: “Confident, proud, healthy, and motivated to pursue my other goals.”

This simple but powerful tool can be downloaded from the Coaching Tools Company website.


7 Coaching Assessment Tools

To make a change in life, one must begin by understanding their current state and circumstances. Assessment tools are a great way to do this, and no matter the area of life that a client is committed to improving, there are hundreds of free and commercially available tools that can do the job.

Here, we will point you toward seven widely used assessment tools, covering four essential areas and skill sets:

  • Leadership
  • Personality
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Motivation

While these areas are often most applicable in leadership coaching, they are broadly relevant across more general life domains, too. For instance, one need not be in a formal position of leadership to benefit from developing leadership skills as leadership is something we all practice, such as when managing a household or organizing activities or events.


Leadership assessment tools

Leadership is a common area that coaches are called in to assess and improve. Whether it’s leadership in the boardroom, a work team, or one’s own personal life, most clients will benefit from developing their leadership in some capacity.c

Here are some of the most popular leadership assessment tools, all of which are available online.

1. Leadership Competency Inventory

The Leadership Competency Inventory (LCI) measures leadership skills as a function of four dimensions:

  • Information seeking
  • Conceptual thinking
  • Strategic orientation
  • Service orientation

This assessment is composed of 39 items, which gauge the degree to which the client has demonstrated certain behaviors. If your client is interested in gaining a holistic view of their leadership skills and abilities, they can have their colleagues, subordinates, or even friends respond to these items as well, serving as a kind of 360-degree feedback tool.

You can view a sample feedback report from the LCI and access a copy of the LCI.

2. Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD)

This 12-item assessment from developers Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard (1969) helps clients discover their leadership style and generates scores in four leadership areas:

  • Supports
  • Coaches
  • Delegates
  • Directs

The quadrant in which the client has the highest score is considered their dominant style, while the next highest score represents their fallback style or the style they use when their dominant style is not appropriate or effective.

This assessment is most useful for those who must practice active leadership in their work, but it can also help those preparing for a leadership role within a team or workgroup.

You can download the assessment and try it for yourself.


Personality Assessment Tools

Personality assessments are common in all types of coaching.

While no personality assessment can tell you exactly who you are and what is most important to you, the results from these assessments can serve as a guide to help you understand your goals, preferences, and priorities.

Here, we present two commonly used personality assessments in coaching: Seligman’s strengths inventory and the Valued Living Questionnaire.

1. VIA Inventory of Strengths (Seligman)

The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths, or VIA-IS, is an assessment tool examining a person’s values through the lens of their character strengths.

There are 24 character strengths which are divided into six categories:

via life coach tools

The VIA-IS will rank your client’s strengths from most dominant to least, emphasizing their top five dominant strengths. These top five strengths are where they draw the most energy and represent them at their personal best.

Identifying these top strengths will serve as a launchpad to discuss how best to put these to use in daily life.

You can take the free, 15-minute VIA-IS, and also read more about each of the 24 character strengths and access a scoring key via the Positive Psychology Toolkit.

2. The Valued Living Questionnaire

The Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ; Wilson, Sandoz, Kitchens & Roberts, 2010) is a useful tool for assessing a client’s values across ten key life domains. This tool, which was originally developed for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, will allow clients to understand the extent to which their enacted behaviors are consistent with their core values.

Importantly, if clients discover that their values and behavior are not in alignment, this assessment can help a coach start a dialog about improving this alignment.

The ten domains included in the assessment are:

  • Family (other than marriage or parenting)
  • Marriage/couples/intimate relations
  • Parenting
  • Friends/social life
  • Work
  • Education/training
  • Recreation/fun
  • Spirituality
  • Citizenship/community
  • Physical self-care (diet, exercise, sleep)

This simple assessment only takes between 8-10 minutes to complete and can be accessed via the Positive Psychology Toolkit.


Emotional Intelligence Assessment Tools

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a person’s ability to monitor their own and others’ emotions, distinguish between and label emotions correctly, and use emotional information to guide and influence thinking and behavior (Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1997)

The following assessments are some of the most popular ways to measure EI, but you can also find more EI assessments in our dedicated post.

1. Emotional and Social Competency Inventory

The Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) is a measure of emotional and social competence based on completed questionnaires from the individual and responses they receive from others. Clients can choose to nominate family members, friends, coworkers, direct reports, or others they interact with regularly to provide these responses. The assessment takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

This feedback is analyzed to produce a report that your client can use to learn more about themselves and how they are perceived across areas such as teamwork, empathy, and conflict management, just to name a few. These scores can then facilitate a discussion of strategies to better use one’s strengths or improve skills in areas with lower scores.

You can view a sample feedback report from the ESCI and purchase a license to use the tool via the Korn Ferry website.

2. Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test™

The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test™ (MSCEIT™) is a widely used tool for assessing a client’s ability to perceive, use, understand, and regulate emotions.

Rather than inviting clients to provide a subjective assessment of these skills, this tool directly tests a person’s emotional skills using scenario-based approaches and various creative tasks.

In sum, the assessment assesses four branches of emotional intelligence:

  • Perceiving Emotions
  • Use of Emotions
  • Understanding Emotions
  • Management of Emotions

This assessment takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete, and practitioners must be certified to administer it.

You can view a sample feedback report from the MSCEIT™ and learn more about purchasing a license and becoming certified to administer the assessment at the Multi-Health Systems website.


Motivation Assessment Tools

To conclude our list of coaching tools, we encourage you to look at the Individual Directions Inventory, which, like some tools presented earlier, taps into motivations underlying goal pursuit while being ideal for workplace settings.

1. Personal Directions Tool

The Individual Directions Inventory (IDI™) is a personal and professional development tool that provides feedback on 17 motivational dimensions. This assessment helps clients understand which areas of life they gain the most satisfaction from, thereby starting a dialog about how they may best direct their energy.

The 17 directions are split into six categories:

  • Affiliating
    • Giving
    • Receiving
    • Belonging
    • Expressing
  • Attracting
    • Gaining Stature
    • Entertaining
  • Perceiving
    • Creating
    • Interpreting
  • Mastering
    • Excelling
    • Enduring
    • Structuring
  • Challenging
    • Maneuvering
    • Winning
    • Controlling
  • Maintaining
    • Stability
    • Independence
    • Irreproachability

This tool provides results along these dimensions, helping the client understand what is important to them and focusing their attention on the areas they want to improve.

You can view a sample feedback report from the IDI™ and learn more about purchasing a license and becoming certified to administer the assessment at the Management Research Group website.


Life Coaching Accreditation with the International Coaching Federation

life coaching training life coach tools

Anyone with a desire to help others reach their goals and a commitment to effective coaching can become a life coach. However, to become a reputable life coach, you must obtain the appropriate certification.

There are many training and certification programs that an aspiring life coach can complete to acquire the necessary skills. As you are considering a certification, it is important to weigh up how a particular program aligns with your coaching style, so be sure to do your research before settling on an option.

When considering the quality of a training option a particular program is rigorous and professional if it has been positively evaluated by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

The ICF’s role is to evaluate coaching programs and provide accreditation and certification to life coaches and institutions that meet their standards. Indeed, in a line of work that is attempting to establish itself as a respectable and legitimate profession, organizations like the ICF provide a much-needed service, so keep an eye out for their stamp of approval on any training you may be considering.

For those looking to undergo training, the ICF offers three levels of accreditation: Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach.


Associate Certified Coach

An Associate Certified Coach (ACC) certification is the easiest of the three types to obtain. This certification is aimed towards individuals who have had some coaching experience but have not yet deeply explored the field.

An aspiring life coach looking to receive this certification can follow one of two paths:

1. The ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) Path

Requirements: Completion of an ICF accredited ACTP.

Hours: 100 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least eight clients.

Fee: $100 – $300

2. The ICF Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) Path

Requirements: At least 60 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program and 10 hours of Mentor Coaching with a credentialed ACC coach.

Hours: 100 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least eight clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Fee: $300-$500

3. The ICF Portfolio Path

Requirements: At least 60 hours of well-documented coaching training that is in accordance with the ICF’s definition of coaching, code of ethics, and core competencies.

Hours: 100 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least eight clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) and a performance evaluation (an audio recording and written transcript of a coaching session).

Fee: $400-600


Professional Certified Coach

The Professional Certified Coach (PCC) certification is the middle-tier level of certification, designed for individuals who have more extensive experience in life coaching. Similar to the ACC certification, there are three paths to gaining certification:

1. ICF ACTP Path

Requirements: Completion of an ICF accredited ACTP.

Hours: 500 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least 25 clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Fee: $300-$500

2. The ICF ACSTH Path

Requirements: At least 125 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program and 10 hours of Mentor Coaching with a credentialed ACC coach.

Hours: 500 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least eight clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) and two performance evaluations (audio recordings and written transcripts of two coaching sessions).

Fee: $575-$775

3. The ICF Portfolio Path

Requirements: At least 125 hours of well-documented coaching training that is under the ICF’s definition of coaching, code of ethics, and core competencies; 10 hours of Mentor Coaching.

Coaching with a credentialed PCC- or higher-level coach.

Hours: 500 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least eight clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) and two performance evaluations (audio recordings and written transcripts of two coaching sessions).

Fee: $675-$875


Master Certified Coach

A Master Certified Coach (MCC) certification is the highest level of certification that a life coach can obtain, and there is a single path to attaining this accreditation.

Requirements: 200 hours of coach-specific training; 10 hours of Mentor Coaching with a credentialed MCC; a current PCC accreditation.

Hours: 2500 or more hours of direct client coaching across at least 35 clients.

Examination: The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Fee: $575-$775


Additional Life Coaching Resources

As you step into the world of life coaching, you’ll realize there is always more to learn and that the field is continually evolving.

Here are some additional resources to help you keep abreast of the best coaching practices:

  • Our Positive Psychology Toolkit includes over 370 practical exercises, activities, assessments, and worksheets that are backed by research and will save you time preparing your own materials. These tools cover a broad range of topics, such as mindset, communication, and goal-setting, while also drawing on all the psychological theories explored above.

  • Check out the Life Coach School podcast series, hosted by Master Coach Brooke Castillo. Each week’s episode covers a different theme, ranging from common hurdles with clients to strategies for scaling up your coaching business.

  • For managers looking to coach their staff to new levels of performance, the University of California at Davis offers a four-course specialization via Coursera. Across the four courses, you’ll learn the basics of how to manage and address performance issues while also gaining skills in coaching practices and coaching conversations.

  • 17 Positive Psychology Exercises – If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, this signature collection contains 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.


A Take-Home Message

As a 2 billion dollar industry with 50,000 practitioners worldwide, life coaching is an exciting and booming industry (Jarosz, 2016). Importantly, you can feel good knowing the practice is built on well-established psychology principles, so if you’re looking to get started, there are many useful science-backed materials out there to help.

Life coaching is a noble pursuit, filled with generous and inspiring coaches and clients who are eager to transform their lives. It’s nearly impossible to be a life coach without learning something new about yourself along the way, so the personal growth goes both ways.

If even just one coaching relationship is enhanced by these tips, tools, and techniques, we’ll be glad to hear it, so let us know in the comments. Have you found any of these resources useful? As always, we’d love to hear from you.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

If you wish for more, our Positive Psychology Toolkit© contains over 370 science-based positive psychology exercises, interventions, questionnaires, and assessments for practitioners to use in their therapy, coaching, or workplace.

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  • Jarosz, J. (2016). What is life-coaching? An integrative review of the evidence-based literature. Internal Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring, 14, 34-56.
  • Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles, 1(8), 227-247.
  • Lajoie, D. H., & Shapiro, S. I. (1992). Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24(1), 79-98.
  • Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (pp. 3-31). New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2000). Models of emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of intelligence (2nd ed., pp. 396–420). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 1997(74), 5-12.
  • Newnham-Kanas, C., Morrow, D., & Irwin, J. D. (2012). Certified professional co-active coaches: Why they enjoy coaching. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 10(1), 48-56.
  • Williams, P. (2012). Looking back to see the future: The influence of humanistic and transpersonal psychology on coaching psychology today. International Coaching Psychology Review, 7, 223-236.
  • Wilson, K. G., Sandoz, E. K., Kitchens, J., & Roberts, M. (2010). The Valued Living Questionnaire: Defining and measuring valued action within a behavioral framework. The Psychological Record, 60(2), 249-272.

About the Author

Nicole is a behavioral scientist and writer based in Perth, Western Australia. Her research interests lie at the intersection between wellbeing, personal energy, and positive psychology, and her work appears in several top business journals, including the Journal of Organizational Behavior.



    I really enjoy your blog with full of useful tips and it will find useful for practitioners. Congratulations.

  2. Brandon Baker

    Awesome article, Nicole. Thanks for sharing these valuable resources for anyone looking to become a coach. Recently, I conducted an interview series with Life Coach Path featuring coaches and therapists across the country, asking them about their experience launching their careers and navigating challenges along the way. We recorded 89 episodes in total, with more coming shortly.

    You can check it out here:

    If you found it useful, we’d definitely appreciate a mention in your blog post. Thanks again for your great work!


  3. Gary Bradley

    A comprehensive overview. Some observations: Freud has little if any role here so the picture is irrelevant. Life coaches are rarely trained to adequately recognise or work with distorted thinking by using e.g. a cognitive behavioural approach. It is dangerous to give novices the idea that this is de facto for life coaching. There are too many coaches out there already who are naive, overconfident and lacking the competency to even recognize their ethical boundaries because their trainers either don’t understand it or are profiteering from trainees who believe their hype.

  4. João Catalão

    Very good!
    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best.

  5. Shardul Chirmule

    Thank You for the wonderful and comprehensive article!! It cleared some of my doubts about life coaching and confirmed my assumptions about process of life coaching and its certifications..

  6. kelly Lorck-Schierning

    I was looking for ways to begin a coaching session, and I stumbled upon this very insightful and helpful article, outlining and reminding me of the basics to go in with and stick by. Thank you for all the helpful links too!

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Kelly,
      Always good to do a refresh of the basics from time to time. Glad we were able to help!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  7. Eugene Moreau

    This is an outstanding resource within itself, even for an experienced and seasoned coach. Thank you!

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Eugene,
      That’s fantastic you found these resources helpful. We hope you enjoy using them with your clients!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  8. Raul Hernandez

    I’m a beginner in life coaching field and your article was like a treasure for me. I’m going to follow your recommendations in deeply manner because they are very practical. It was like a big picture of the field.I want to pursue. Many thanks for your post!
    Do you have any book related to this topic?

  9. Lulu Moraka

    excellent advice on life coaching all round! Enjoyed reading he article – very informative. Thanks.

  10. Carlos Costa Pinto

    Excellent article!
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Rahul

    content is really amazing and helpful. Thanks for sharing

  12. Siggi K

    Dear both,
    very impressive, very comprehensive, very practical. Even though I know and apply most of the tools in my daily work with leaders its great to get an overview in such an Elaborate and professional manner.
    Thanks a lot.
    Siggi from Germany

  13. Trace

    As always Seph and team, thank you.

  14. Glen

    Combining psychometric tests with coaching is a very powerful combination. Understanding the personality type of your client is key to finding the right approach and achieving breakthroughs.

  15. Sean

    I really like this post.
    Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man, Keep it up.

  16. Suzanne Benedetti

    Hi Seph,
    You continue to astound me with the invaluable information (informative education on positive psychology) you continue to forward to me. I am most grateful and you are most gracious “A big thank you from me” I am currently studying my second Masters Degree. This time in Social Work and hope to own my own practice. A picture of you will be hanging on the wall when I set up, as being the ‘most sharing and caring online mentor I have ever had”
    Sue Benedetti
    Master Public Health (OHS) BA Aboriginal & Intercultural Studies. Cert IV Workplace Training and Assessment

  17. Menza

    Thank you soo much for this, I am new to all of this and this page has all the information I need to get started. Many thanks again.

  18. Jonane J. Saguid

    Thank you for this very valuable information. I got it all. Ilove to read this and impart this to my clientele and students. Thanks

  19. Rhumy Amith

    This indeed is a must read which is very informative in keeping with the latest inform on Life Coaching. We need to sharpen our minds with efffective know-how and i am glad that you have published this very valuable piece of work empathically.

  20. Olanike Ofole

    Thanks for the free material and insightful ideas.

  21. Ramarwall

    Sign me up!

  22. Sonja W Williams

    Thank you, Very helpful!

  23. Alessandra MR D'Agostino

    Thanks truly for these wonderful insights!
    /Greetings from Italy!/

  24. Claire

    Extremely informative and well written article. References, as well as direct links to any pertinent reference materials (such as worksheets or questionaires) were readily available at the end of each particular subtopic section. My favorite aspect of your article was how you balanced a very nice clear cohesive flow, well organized, detailed and laid out in a thoughtful purposeful manner. All while still maintaining your balance with the sheer volume of information you provide the the reader. Impressively well rounded. I just happened upon this article during my search for information on another subject. And yet, I not only read the entire article immediately but I also find myself leaving a glowing and lengthy comment, doing so as if it were a requirement of mine! Absolutely, truly, the BEST article I have read in quite some time. Thank you so much for putting it together for us, and I hope that your extensive knowledge of the subject matter and talents as a writer continue to be acknowledged in all of your future endeavors.

  25. Stevey McGeown

    Thank you for the detail in your article. Life coaching is one of those things where you have to deliver. Talking is great but only results matter.

  26. life coach certification mumbai

    I like this nice post…

  27. Celso Sousa Costa

    I couldn’t agree more with Sue Miller. The blog describes an interesting variety of tips and tools. However, it concerns me that so much of “Psychology derived knowledge” is now being described and labelled as Life Coaching.
    Drawing from Sue’s words, Psychology as a scientific discipline and Psychotherapy as such a broad, complex and holistic set of guiding principles, options, tools, and background theories informing action (e.g. Constructivist Oriented), should not be compared at all in my perspective to this modality of coaching.
    As I read through “Life Coaching” all topics relate to some part of Psychology – there is not independent content generated by “Life Coaching Researchers” that doesn’t link back to Psychology. Most of current and contemporary psychotherapy is informed by positive psychology, CBT, narrative oriented, emotion-focused and solution focused principles, to name a few, that extend the lens of what psychologists do, way beyond dealing with “disorders” or any type of suffering.
    Insights from our science, Psychology, generated from decades and decades of research, should not in my perspective, be described or even related to “Life Coaching”. Psychologists, through their education, training, and extensive knowledge of different models, are the professionals with the tools to understand the complexity of human behaviour and should be the professionals of reference in any matters regarding human development, enhancing performance, increasing subjective wellbeing, making important decisions, elaborating life goals, or any other “typical description” now so often associated with “Life Coaching”.
    Helping someone recover from a disorder (i.e. major depressive disorder) or helping them build a fulfilling life, are all parts of the same continuum of human behaviour. These are not separate completely separate topics, but themes that interconnect, as knowing about disorders (through a CBT lens) and knowing about subjective wellbeing (applying positive psychology solution focused approach) both inform about the marvellous complexity that makes up the human mind. As Psychologists, I believe it is important to clarify and clearly distinguish our professional background from “coaches” that have no formal education as psychologists.
    I thank you for the very interesting article, with relevant insights and applicable tools.
    Celso Costa

    • David Jamieson

      Good response,
      But saying that only trained psychologists “are the professionals with the tools…to help” is a little disingenuous.
      I too have trained and qualified; coaching, teaching, management and more and feel qualified to support my clients, using the most relevant tools at my disposal including ‘psychology’ which is all around us.
      Methinks Celso is being just a tad protectionist…

      • Gary Bradley

        David, with respect, Celso is making a valid point. ‘Psychology is all around us’ only highlights the problem with the op some of us are trying to illuminate. There are those of us who professionally identify as a psychologist and coach and practice from a deep understanding of psychological theory and evidence. We are coaching psychologists. There are others like yourself who professionally identify as a coach and may use psychological methods and may have an understanding of certain theory and evidence. That’s fine as long as we all know where our ethical boundaries lie. But the op is presenting an image of life coaching as psychology which is inaccurate and misleading. There is a lot of nonsense, naive and downright irresponsible nonsense talked about ‘psychology’ around us too. I hope this clears it up… somewhat…

  28. Michael Tomoff

    What a great deal of work this piece must have been! Thanks a million for the time and effort you guys put into it!
    Greetings from Germany,

    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      Our pleasure Michael! Thank you for your support ?

  29. Kashonia Carnegie

    What a great and comprehensive article. Congratulations and thank you

    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      Glad you enjoy it Kashonia and thanks for leaving a comment! 🙂

  30. Sue Miller

    Hi I really enjoy your blog. This is a generous article full of useful tips which I’m sure practitioners will find useful. What a shame that such a broad ranging article in which the authors draw so heavily on particular psychological therapy, sets coaching apart from counselling with such a narrow (out-dated) definition of counselling and therapy. We know that language and narrative is everything, therefore (as counselling and clinical psychologist) I feel the need to ensure that people are not misled by such a restrictive definitions. Contemporary change theories ie the ‘current wave’ therapies and counselling framework involve positive psychology, solution-focused and narrative practice (to name a few). From this perspective, counsellors/therapists etc collaborate with clients to shape their personally defined pathway and vision. Constructivist thought forms the basis of much of this work and the client is the expert (the counsellor expert facilitator). A key principle involves using the client’s construct system in identifying points of leverage, constraints and opportunity. And yes, in this considered context, the bag of practitioner tools can be useful.
    thanks Sue M

    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      Thanks for your insightful comment Sue!

  31. Nader Faisal Dewan

    Dear all …..,
    Kindly to previous professional e-mail then I want to register with your programs to development my strategy .
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