Can a life coach help you?

Vowing to transform the way you approach everything, life coaching promises much. But does it deliver?


Vowing to transform the way you approach everything, life coaching promises much. Jenny Hewett chats to a local expert to find out more.

Halfway between a counsellor and an unnervingly motivated friend, a life coach is someone who helps you reach personal and professional goals. Not to be sniffed at, life coaching also happens to be one of the fastest- growing professions in the world right now. Here, we chat to Venezualan-Lebanese life coach Karla Moutran, who has been based in Dubai for 12 years and specialises in cognitive and Co-Active coaching.

How does life coaching work?
The client is ultimately the expert on his or her life, and the coach aims to create or facilitate means that will lead the client to create fulfilling transformation and change in their life.

What happens in a session?
Normally a client will first come to what we call a discovery session and there, among many things, the coach and client will discuss and explore a few topics and set the times and terms for when and where and how often they will meet. A session will normally last no more than an hour. Some people meet at a coffee shop, park, beach, office, or it might even be done through Skype.

What are the different types and what type do you specialise in?
‘Coaching’ can encompass a number of methodologies and focal points. Some focus strictly on health and creating healthy lifestyle habits with diets and exercise. Others focus on business and career and its impact on a person’s life with the goal of finding life balance and fulfilment while achieving professional success. Others focus on relationships and family. What they all have in common is that at some point or another they will all explore the different aspects of a client’s life by looking at many factors, such as relationships, career, health, finances, and life purpose into a client’s overall lifestyle. I have personally been trained as a cognitive coach and as a Co-Active coach.

In what areas can life coaching be particularly useful?
Anybody looking for a change in his or her life will benefit from a coach. People come because they want something different, they may want more from life – more simplicity, balance, joy or sometimes they want less stress, guilt, confusion or financial pressure.

How does one become certified as a life coach?
Normally you will follow a programme, be it with Coach Training Faculty (CTI), Organisation and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) or any other institute, which involves completing all the modules over a certain period of time. After that you are advised to continue your accreditation by the ICF (International Coaching Federation). You can always keep your accreditation by enrolling in leadership programmes and attending international conferences.

Why are some companies now starting life coaching initiatives in the workplace?
Happier and more fulfilled employees will achieve better results than those under a lot of stress and who feel very unsatisfied. So companies tend to offer it in one way or another, be it in one-on-one sessions, or workshops, or even by enrolling them in leadership programmes (specially those in higher positions). Some local companies, such as Du, employ coaches for permanent staff members.

How is life coaching different from counselling?
A therapist or counsellor helps by healing old wounds, focusing on past issues and dealing with personal problems that need to be analysed and solved. Therapy is about the past and present and all about focusing the client towards healing. Coaching, on the other hand, is about helping a client look forward so they can expand their options and take action.

What tools does it teach?
How to be aware of an issue or a feeling and look at it with a different perspective. How to honour who they are and what they stand for.

What happens when you see someone who obviously has psychological problems?
I know there are some coaches who are quite capable of handling clients with deeper problems or addictions. Normally they have had extensive experience and studies complementing their coaching certifications. I feel a great sense of responsibility, so in the true interest of holding the client’s needs as top priority, I recommend further assistance when necessary.
To contact Karla Moutran, Co-Active coach, Pilates instructor and co-founder of The Retreat Collection, email

What the psychologist says

Clinical psychologist Dr Saliha Alfridi from The Lighthouse Arabia on whether life coaching is right for you.

‘Coaching can be useful for healthy individuals who are symptom-free and have life direction concerns These could include, ‘What is my career? What is my passion? What do I want in life?’. The past is really not considered a topic of discussion or of concern in coaching sessions, it is very much solution-focused and future oriented. For individuals who are more distressed and need to explore deeper motivations or traumas, psychotherapy is a better solution. Coaching can be done alongside therapy to perhaps set a behavioural plan for the client. However what is dangerous is when clients are unstable who go to a coach for ‘life advice’ – they need more intervention.
The LightHouse Arabia, Villa 2, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 2 (04 380 9298).

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