Today I talked with my massage therapist about life coaches. She initiated the conversation not knowing my background.
Her main issues were: now that it's become a popular and still unregulated field, the market is over saturated with life coaches. In that mix, you will find coaches from a to z. That means, you'll find coaches with various backgrounds, perspectives, and styles, so ferreting out what you really need becomes work.
Most offer a free get-to-know you conversation. Unfortunately, some coaches use the time to try to convince you to buy their services. Nevertheless, it's up to you to see "what language they speak." We all have a language. Mine is faith-based language. I can't coach from any new age type ideas. It's not my language. But I'm pretty good at coaching from a psychology and empathetic base too for those who aren't interested in including faith in the discussions.
My friend used the term "authentic" a fair amount. When a person uses a word often, that's a sign of something important to them. I didn't get her to define what that meant for her, but she gave a few examples of what it didn't look like.
I've both coached and used coaches. I know what's out there to a fair degree. I know what I've sensed and what works and doesn't work for me. That's another matter altogether--finding what works for me and my personality. Some of us have our own picture of how a session should go that our coach would never know about. One of my pet peeves is a coach should be careful of not dominating the call. She should let her client have the floor.
Another pet peeve is a coach should be careful about applying judgment labels. I may have done this myself. It happens easily, but one wrongly used judgment label can turn a client away.
In our conversation, my friend mentioned she'd been at a seminar and the life coach presenting asked a question and then mocked her answer.
Good coaching really does require skill.
If you use a coach, be fair when she doesn't coach exactly as you want her to.
Do spell out your expectations. Spell out what issues you think you want to delve into. I say "think" because sometimes what you first think is the issue ends up not being the real issue. For instance, I once used a coach for clarity on my business direction and in the hour-long discussion realized it was my social life that needed attention, and when that was fixed up I could function better in my business.
My friend and I agreed over many things we've seen in the coaching arena but at the end of the day, we both felt there is value in having a life coach whether for a few sessions or several.