What is a life coach? William Singer of the Varsity Blues scandal titled himself as a life coach. Is that a recognized or accredited title?


Tell me about your mother…

I understand the confusion. People have a pretty good grasp on what a therapist is, what a counselor is, and what a psychiatrist is. But… “life coach”? Come on now… LOL Let’s see if I can help – it’s what I do. I’m a life coach! Or at least, I was. I’m flirting with retirement now. 😉

This is the stereotypical idea of a therapist …

So if that’s what most people think would happen in therapy, here’s my take of what a life coach would do…

Never give up, never surrender!

I’m the one standing with you on the sidelines, in the mud, in the rain, getting my hands dirty.

A therapist etc. typically keeps themselves at a professional distance. They’ve gone to school for years. They’ve got the perspective of a very specific type of training, and they’re seeing your issue(s) through the lens of a very specific school of thought. Typically you’d seek out their help for an extremely complicated, long-term issue.

By comparison, a life coach is a single-serving problem solver. You, the client, don’t really need long-term therapy. For the most part you’ve got things more or less sorted out. But there’s an issue in your life that you keep stumbling over. You’re fine, you’re fine, and then BAM! It hits again and knocks the wind out of your sails. Or you’ve got a massive decision to make and you just need another perspective. Or something came out of the blue and you simply do not have the life experience to cope with it constructively. That’s where the life coach comes in. They use their own life experiences to augment yours. They’ve walked the path you’re about to tread and can guide you through the worst of it.

To offer a specific example, I specialize in kink. I’ve been in the fetish scene since 1984. As I gained experience I began to mentor those who were just starting out. It started with answering basic questions, then letting Doms who had no experience practice on me. But as time went on I discovered something. A lot of people would reach out to me because I seemed nice. They’d tell me things like they really wanted to join the scene, but they were ashamed to do so. They were ashamed of their desire to be submissive, or to dominate people. They had a fetish that really turned them on, but they were so embarrassed by it that they simply couldn’t cope. But a friend heard I was a good person to talk to and…

… and six years ago I went pro. And let me tell you, I love my job. LOVE it. Helping someone go from hating a part of themselves to openly accepting that same part of themselves is wonderful. I’d still be doing it full time, except that I just moved from a very large metro area with a thriving kinky scene to a somewhat smaller metro area. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. But even if I never see another client it was great while it lasted. 🙂

And that’s what a life coach does! I hope that answers your question. If not, please feel free to drop me a line!

Is there a link between autism and BDSM?

Wow, what a cool question! Please understand that my answer is purely observational. I’ve been in scene for decades, and I’ve talked to so, so many people who have made it a lifestyle choice.

Here’s what I’ve seen. There’s something that people who do not have degrees call “artistic temperament.” I’d describe this as someone who is very passionate about their creative process. If they’re disturbed during that creative process the results can be quite volatile. But these same volatile individuals usually (though not always) create the best stuff, be that sculpture, painting, music, writing etc.

For the longest time these individuals have been associated with Bipolar. But I’ve read a few articles lately that have started to speculate about the diagnostic process, especially when it comes to women, but really all across the board. The more we examine the workings of the human mind, the more we are forced to admit… we really don’t know what we’re talking about.

Yes, I’m getting to your question – Promise!

My clients are / were people involved in the BDSM scene, but who feel guilty about it. They want to relax into it and enjoy themselves, but usually they’re too busy beating themselves up first. And more often than not there’s a diagnosis involved. Usually more than one, because once you start down that path it tends to change. It might start as Major Depressive, then go to Bipolar, add on PTSD, subtract Bipolar, add personality disorders… it’s a continually evolving process.

But just lately, say within the last 2 years, I started hearing the word “autism” pop up quite frequently. Either it was in addition to all the others, or sometimes all the other labels were tossed out in favor of this brand new one. Call it “On the spectrum” or “Asperger’s” or “Autism” – I heard all of them with various levels of acceptance.

So is there a link? Clinically I can’t answer that. But if sheer observation is useful to you, I’d say definitely.

I think I might be addicted to moving. Every time we get moved and settled into a place (usually around year 3) I want to move again. The mundane bothers me. Has anyone else felt like this?

You’re not alone! Many people get itchy feet, just as you do. And I’ve noticed it’s usually around the three-year mark when it starts to really set in.

While many jobs require travel, people in the military are the most obvious modern example. This nomadic culture is actually built around a feeling of near constant transition. Family A moves to a base and settles in for three years. Families B, C and D live near them. The kids from family A meet all the other kids in the neighborhood, but family B just got their orders – they left within a few months of family A moving in. Family C left within a year and family D was gone in 2. By the time a new family moved into Family D’s house, Family A is getting ready to move again…

So it’s a constant ebb and flow, and endless series of meetings and departures. What I’ve noticed is that the adults who live like this tend to make long-term friends. They grab on to anyone they have anything in common with and hold tight, working hard to actively maintain the relationships even across distances. But the kids who grow up like this have a tendency to sort of drift along, identifying more with the places they live and their teachers – two things that won’t change right away – rather than their classmates. If you ask someone like that “Where are you from” you’ll get an answer like “When?”. They’re not being a smart ass. They just don’t know how to answer.

When those kids grow up… those are the types I’ve seen living out of suitcases, usually. Moving not because an external force makes them, but because something inside them simply says it’s time. To them transition is normal. Buying a house is strange – they have to keep it up perfectly in anticipation of selling it again in just a few years. And while they can talk to people easily, they don’t have a lot in common with those who haven’t traveled beyond the border of their own little town or village or… They’re active, they’re alert, but they don’t put down roots. It’s a pretty amazing way to live!

I don’t know if this describes you, but at the very least you should know that no, you’re definitely not alone!

I’ve always heard becoming a successful life coach costs a ton of money and loads of travel. Is there another way?

What an interesting question! Officially I’ve been a Life Coach since 2013, though unofficially I’ve been doing it much longer than that. I’ve never heard it described in these specific terms. But now that you’ve put it like this, I must agree that money and travel certainly helps.

One of the most frequent questions asked is what a Life Coach does, how are they different from someone like a therapist, and why someone should take them seriously. These are all wonderful questions. As we all know, a therapist needs a degree. A counselor needs a certificate. A psychiatrist needs an MD!

But with a Life Coach, the emphasis must be placed on “COACH”. We’re the ones who work with others based on our own life experience, not because we went through a program or got a certificate. I like to describe a good Life Coach as a “single-serving” problem solver. We’re able to guide people through a specific crisis because we’ve been there. We have the perspective because we’ve walked the path at least once already.

Which takes me back to travel. Do you need money to do it? Yes. The amount varies. You can take the shoestring approach or sail the world, but an investment is required, not to mention the time it takes. It’s also the finest education possible. Usually a really good Life Coach has been around the block more than once, and has been around LOTS of blocks.

So a TON of money and LOADS of travel? I wouldn’t go that far. A good Life Coach needs experience, or else no one will take them seriously. One of the best ways to get that experience is via travel, and travel does cost money. How much you invest is up to you.

Incidentally, one of the best ways I know to cut down travel expense while increasing travel experience is to teach English while traveling. And that might be a good litmus test for Life Coaching as well, because the two utilize many of the same skill sets. Are you the kind of person that would find such an adventure appealing? Do you speak well in front of others? Can you think on your feet? Not afraid to get your hands dirty? Then you too might make a great Life Coach! 😉 It just takes a bit of experience.

Why do life coaches charge so much money?

Is it more awkward to talk about sex or money?

That’s a really interesting question – I’m glad you asked! When I first started out I didn’t charge a penny. That was when I was talking to people 1-on-1 at a 24 hour coffee shop as they cried their eyes out, wondering what was wrong with them. Why they couldn’t accept themselves. When they’d ever be happy. Why they couldn’t get over this one fear they had and just love themselves. Over and over again. That was the work I put in to learn how to be a life coach. I did this for years.

When I finally decided to “go pro” I charged a very timid rate of $20 / hr. And I learned another lesson – no one takes a life coach seriously if they don’t take themselves seriously. Even if someone booked a session they rarely showed up. They didn’t respect me or my time. I raised my rates to $50 / hr and saw slightly better results. After six months it went up to $100 / hr and then to $150 / hr after the first year. Other life coaches in the city charged twice that, but I decided to fix my prices there, and to cater to a specific clientele. Bingo! Not only did my clients show up, but because significant cash was on the line THEY took it seriously. You’d think if they took the trouble to look me up, then book the appointment they’d be serious from the start, but the human mind doesn’t work that way. When fear and shame are involved sometimes you also have to work in something of consequence, like money, to get them to calm down enough to focus on the issue.

Is life coaching just a form of unregulated counseling or psychotherapy?

This is a great question! As a Life Coach myself, I specialize in a very particular type of insecurity experienced in the fetish scene. So many people feel guilty even thinking about being kinky, much less enjoying it, that I found myself pulling total strangers aside in clubs when they started having anxiety attacks. I’ve been there myself, I made the mistake of walking away from the scene, I have a unique perspective now, and I have the ability to both empathize and communicate with others. It became such a regular thing that it became an unexpected, but extremely rewarding business.

That’s what Life Coaching is all about – that unique perspective that you’re not going to get out of either a textbook or a classroom. I never advertised myself as a “doctor” and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. But I have walked the walk. Maybe that’s what makes the difference between the “coach” and the “counselor”.

Are life coaches overrated?

At the risk of hearing a net-groan… some are, yes. Some are not. It really depends. The title says it all – a coach is a person who is in the field. They’ve been where you are. A good life coach can offer the perspective needed to help you overcome the challenge you’re facing. Some, like myself, specialize only in a specific type of coaching, so you need to find a good fit.

What are the daily frustrations of a life coach?

That’s a really good question! But it’s a tough one to answer. My biggest frustration is when a client lies.

I’ll make up a silly example, and to be perfectly, 100% clear, this never happened. Nothing like this happened. It is fiction. But let’s say that Bob came to me and said he was ashamed because he became aroused when he saw the color green. He’s very frustrated because he doesn’t know if he should act on it or not, and it’s having a negative impact on his life. As a life coach it’s not my job to discover the origins of the trauma that caused his fixation on green. I’m here to get Bob to a happier place in his life. By the end of our time together our stated objective is for Bob to 1. become more accepting of himself and back down the shame or, 2. become more accepting of green and back down the shame or 3. whatever was behind door #3 which we’d work it out together.

The point is that we’d do some background work, the two of us would settle on a game plan and mutually agree on a goal. As you can see I take the “coach” part of the job seriously. And usually my clients and I would figure out why they were having such a hard time with acceptance and they leave a lot happier.

But every once in a while I’d get someone who would end up even more wound up at the end of our sessions than when we started. And ALWAYS there was only one reason. They hadn’t been completely honest during our initial strategy meeting. I understand why. We were just starting out, we didn’t know each other all that well. But without that initial candor it’s not possible to plan out a successful strategy. They end up frustrated, I end up frustrated, no one gets what they want. So if I may offer a word of advice – if you’re thinking of contacting a life coach, please. Do everyone a favor. BE HONEST. If you’re not comfortable with the person you’ve contacted and don’t feel you can be honest with them, find someone else. There’s lots of us out there! You’ll find a better fit. But you’ve got to be honest or this won’t work.

That’s my only frustration. Otherwise being a life coach is a fantastic job!