Life Coaching

A manual for helping professionals

By: Dave Ellis


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 256
ISBN : 9781904424949
Format: Paperback
Published: March 2006

This manual is specifically designed for therapists, counsellors and other helping professionals who are looking to add life coaching techniques to their portfolio of skills.

Dave Ellis, author of Falling Awake, has produced a step-by-step practical guide to turning your natural people-helping skills into a profitable life coaching business. Life coaching is not therapy but many of the qualities that therapists possess, and the techniques they use, naturally lend themselves to a life coaching approach. Because Ellis advocates a more directive approach than most authors of life coaching books, this book will naturally appeal to therapists and counsellors used to conducting therapeutic interventions. Life coaching is a fast growing profession and many think it will replace therapy as the primary intervention to get people to live more positive, happy and goal-oriented lives.

Contents include:

  • The coaching continuum
  • Creating and using a life coaching agreement
  • Using the six types of conversation
  • Maintaining the appropriate balance in the relationship
  • Developing creativity and intuition
  • Handling emotions
  • Ending the coaching relationship
  • Questions and answers about life coaching

Picture for author Dave Ellis

Dave Ellis

Dave Ellis is a leadership and life coach, author, educator, and philanthropist. His first book Becoming a Master Student, currently in its thirteenth edition, continues to be the bestselling college textbook in America for over 20 years. In addition to this book, he has authored and co-authored seven others including Life Coaching, Falling Awake, and Creating Your Future. He also wrote a booklet titled - Becoming a Master Teacher.

Dave Ellis is a respected lecturer and workshop leader who has reached audiences worldwide since first sharing his principles in 1979. He has coached national and international nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, an NBA coach, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Through his workshops and books, he has helped over five million people create a more wonderful life.

Dave got started in education in 1976 when he taught junior high school maths. After getting a Masters Degree in Mathematics, he taught computer science for six years at National American University. He also served as Assistant Dean of Student Services and President of the college. In 1979 he designed a course to improve student retention and then travelled the country for a decade conducting workshops for teachers on ways to improve student retention and test scores. He began training coaches in 1983 and started a public course for coaches in 1993.

Dave has a bachelors degree in Computer Science and Psychology, a masters degree in Computer Science, work on a Ph.D. in Psychology, and an honorary Ph.D. in Naturopathic Philosophy.

Dave Ellis is president of Breakthrough Enterprises, a publishing and consulting company that gives away all of its profits. He is founder and president of The Brande Foundation, a nonprofit organization offering individual and group coaching to nonprofit organizations. Dave has contributed millions of dollars to the work of his foundation and to other organizations.

Dave Ellis resides near San Francisco, CA in the US with his wife Trisha. Together they have four daughters and two granddaughters, and one of the daughters and one granddaughter live in London.


  1. Dave Ellis's book -˜Life Coaching' is written for practising life coaches, to give a manual for assisting counsellors, social workers and ministers of religion in their profession. His vision of life-coaching is to -˜assist people to create their own solutions , arrive at their own answers, and discover options for themselves' The reviewer found this vision has limited application to mentoring children, and coaching colleagues in schools in UK, and is more closely related to counselling students in higher education. The writer explores the Power and Possibility of Life Coaching, lays out the mechanics, and skills of coaching, addresses frequently asked questions, discusses professional issues, and the marketing coaching services. For this reviewer the practical chapters were of most interest and relevance (Chapter Two, The Mechanics of Life Coaching, and Four, Enhancing Your Coaching Skills). For life coaches the book could become a well-thumbed bed-side volume.
  2. Dave Ellis' book is an excellent introduction to health professionals of the skills required to offer the type of life skills that can be helpful not just to clients and patients but also to colleagues. Life Coaching aims to help individuals make the most of what they have, develop new ways of acting in the world and reframe some of the more practical challenges the individual faces. Life Coaching - A Manual for Helping Professionals is certainly a book with much to commend it.
  3. Ellis sets out in this book to provide a framework for those wishing to embark upon a career as a life coach. He provides practical advice, such as how to approach marketing, a first coaching session and ending the coaching relationship. He presents his understanding of the purpose and mechanics of life coaching and offers many practical strategies for helping clients achieve their goals.
  4. In his newly published book, Life Coaching, author Dave Ellis defines coaching as "assisting people to create their own solutions, arrive at their own answers and discover options for themselves," while they are creating "the life of their dreams." I really can't think of a better definition of coaching than this, and Life Coaching is an excellent book for coaches who are already in the business, as well as people who want to enter the profession.

    A coach is the client's "full partner" in personal transformation, providing a professional, confidential, and life-changing relationship. Ellis, himself a highly success life coach, shares his enthusiasm for this work on every page of this book. He tells readers that coaching is a "celebration of life" that enlarges peoples' visions of themselves, their possibilities, and their creativity. He discusses the elements of the coaching relationship: These are listening and acceptance, aligned with the ability to promote personal change, improved relationships, freedom from suffering, and self-discipline.

    Ellis lists the qualities of life coaches and defines what makes coaching a distinct profession. For novices, he also discusses the "mechanics of coaching": How to schedule appointments, coaching formats (individual or group, face-to-face or by phone), getting started with a client, preparing for the session, how to behave during the session, and how to end the coaching relationship.

    Coaching is a conversation. Ellis presents a continuum of coaching communication tactics that accomplish various purposes such as helping clients explore possibilities, discover their passions, define what they want, and commit to taking action toward outcomes. He explores the variations on the conversation and how that conversation can be used for sharing, debriefing, and teaching. Readers can learn how to effectively ask questions, help clients create ceremonies and rituals, hold clients accountable, and encourage responsibility.

    While many other books on coaching seem to tell readers to simply encourage clients to find their own way, Ellis lists several life enhancement skills that coaches can teach to their clients. First, coaches can teach clients how to get the most from the relationship and from each session. In this respect, coaches can model and teach clients how to have positive expectations, communicate openly, take responsibility for outcomes, maintain a long-term vision, set goals, and create one's future.

    Coaches can also teach practical and valuable skills such as planning and prioritizing, problem solving, changing habits, handling emotions, taking responsibility, and improving relationships. Ellis tells how he teaches each of these skills, and this chapter alone is well worth the price of the book.

    Life Coaching offers guidance on how to be an effective coach as well as an effective individual. Ellis calls on coaches to continuously evaluate their effectiveness and pursue continuous professional development. He discusses the most common mistakes coaches make. He advises coaches on how to handle professional issues such as appropriate intimacy, dual relationships, making referrals, and responding to a client's unethical behavior or illegal activity.

    Ellis includes a chapter on how to market a coaching practice, how to set up a home office and how to set a fee. He also devotes a Q & A chapter to the questions coaches ask when feeling most perplexed; questions about professionalism and about moving beyond sticking points. He even gives coaches a method for finding answers to their own questions by drawing upon self-awareness, observation skills, curiosity and intuition.

    There is much to like about this book: It is filled with practical ideas and information, it is easy to read and comprehend, and it is evident that the author speaks from personal experience and credibility. There is a companion volume for clients"a client textbook"called Falling Awake, available through Ellis's web site: I went online and looked at Falling Awake. Ellis describes this book as "Twelve Success Strategies to get what you want and create the life of your dreams no matter what your circumstance." Readers can download the book, order the hardcopy, or read it online in Adobe. It has many excellent practical exercises in planning, visualizing and journaling for creating one's future.
  5. After initially struggling with the flow and Americanisation of this book I have to confess I found some little nuggets within the pages.

    Overall the manual is focused more toward the new or learning coach and doesn't tackle any particular issues or concerns in specific details that could be presented, but does however give the reader a defined outline of the boundaries and processes of the coaching journey.

    There are some aspects of Dave's approach to coaching such as; intense periods of coaching with a client or the emotional involvement he refers to throughout the pages that did not sit well with my own personal style of coaching or training, but if nothing else it helps define your individual approach and encourages you to explore what it is about those adversities that does not appeal.

    The key areas of focus amidst the pages are predominantly on the power, possibilities and the mechanics of coaching, whilst also giving, albeit brief, insights in to enhancing your skills, some professional issues and marketing your services.

    The book is easy to read with simple and unambiguous text and for any therapist who now wishes to explore the key benefits and solution focused, orientated approach that coaching encapsulates, will find it a comfortable and insightful first step.

    There are many books now written and available on coaching, some of which I feel integrate the processes and techniques more comprehensively than this one, but as the number of coaches and coaching resources flood the market and demand from clients sores, to get more action orientated and results specific, -˜A Manual for helping professionals' would be worth a read. This book will help you to decide whether this approach is for you and whether it would be worth pursuing more formal avenue's of training and development.

    Coaching as a whole has seen an incredible growth in the USA and now here in the UK over the past few years and shows no sign of slowing down. For this reason I would advise any 'talking therapist' not yet familiar with the concept or mechanics of this approach to take a lazy afternoon and have a read!
  6. Hardly a week goes by without us hearing something of the term ” Life Coaching “. Often we link it with rich celebrities to tend to confuse it with “Personal Training” when they mention it in glossy magazines.

    Life Coaching is something that we all go through , to some degree or other, during our lives. The thing is, though, many of us may have a vision of what it is all about which may contrast sharply with that of the professional Coach. We may not be a million miles apart BUT it helps if we both speak and understand the same language “In life coaching, my ( the author) aim is to assist people to create their own solutions, arrive at their own answers, and discover options for themselves”.

    The book is written primarily for practicing professional life coaches and those who feel that they would like to introduce a stronger element of life coaching into their own work. Basically, it is a truly comprehensive manual for assisting the reader to develop his/her knowledge of the whole life coaching business.

    It is a well written book which first of all shows us that life Coaching is NOT a therapy. However it does embrace many of the qualities and techniques that we use in our own practices. Life Coaching is a very fast growing and lucrative profession which the author himself feels may actually replace therapy as ” the primary intervention to get people to live more positive, happy and goal-orientated lives”.

    The book is well written in clear, concise English and is very agreeably jargon-free. It may embrace many techniques that we already use but I still feel we have much to learn from this book. I found it an intelligent and inspiring read and have certainly found that it has made me think far more effectively and dynamically when dealing with some patients.

    As well as excellent material dealing with approaches within working sessions themselves, it also includes an excellent section on the setting up and management of one's business. In this way it provides truly useful, across the board advice and explanation for all professionals.
  7. Life coaching is an established professional activity, which unlike psychotherapy or career counseling is not taught at many universities as an independent subject. Nevertheless, there are several organizations devoted to life coaching, such as the International Coach Federation, which has nearly 10,000 members in 80 countries (International
    Coach Federation, n.d., 1) and which is currently organizing its 11th annual conference.

    Although many life coaches are proud of their practical orientation, there is the necessary stock of publications in this discipline, including a handbook (Martin, 2001) and a series of programs among which Ellis's (2002) Falling Awake is a well-known contribution. Dave Ellis's Life Coaching: A Manual for Helping Professionals, reviewed here, is presented as a manual on life coaching.

    To make no mistakes about the value of life coaching, the author sets the standards early on: "If necessary, I'd give up my house, rent an apartment, or even live in a tent so that I could hire a life coach" (p. 1). And, indeed, on opening the book and reading any chapter of this text full of empowering optimism, a reassurance emerges that leaves the reader feeling well. Reading the book in the proper order, life coaching appears to have the maximum rating in statements such as these:
    • "Life coaches provide a service for people who are already happy and successful" (p. 2).
    • "Life coaches can offer unconditional love" (p.7).
    • "I tell clients that one of the benefits of having me as a life coach is that I'll spend time every day thinking about them."
    • "I will hold you in my consciousness more than anyone else does, except possibly your mother or your father" (pp. 7-8).
    • "A relationship with a life coach is one of the most personal and intimate relationships that a person can have" (p.14).

      "I know people who charge as little as $5 per hour to provide this amazing service [life coaching]" (p. 25).

    These statements and many others like them might be found extreme by a therapist or a counseling practitioner providing a regular service in a private practice or within an institution.

    The author, as is common in life coaching, attempts to provide a clear distinction between coaching and therapy. Although the criterion of not treating problems that could be classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994), or perhaps by the International Classification of Diseases (10th rev.; World Health Organization, 2006) in the case of Europe, seems to be plausible, many psychotherapists would agree that they also address issues that are not the core of a given diagnosis. Dealing with these issues often helps in changing some of the core dimensions of the diagnosis as they present the specific contexts in which the diagnosed disorder is influential.

    Nevertheless, it is less important to discuss what psychotherapists could also do (for that, see Williams & Davis, 2002) than to acknowledge what life coaching took over by means of a flexible conceptualization rooted in everyday-life interpersonal understanding. The consequent orientation of empowering, goal systems, planning, generating joint goals, and developing a goal hierarchy on the one hand and specifying it in plans and actions on the other gives life coaching a potential many psychotherapies lack. It could be argued that life coaching is rooted in an action-theoretical conceptualization. This is strongly stated in this manual dealing with the person image on which life coaching is based. The clients are seen as goal-directed agents capable of taking responsibility. The action-theoretical conceptualization can also be found in the care the author promotes taking in regard to establishing a relationship with the client. The practical assumption that goal-directed systems could be defined as short-term actions, mid-term projects, and also as a form identified with life goals indicates action-theoretical conceptualization equally well. Furthermore, the distinction between goal setting, control, and regulation processes suggests the underlying systemic conception of action, allowing the life coach to address and initiate construction processes at goal level, turn the client's attention to control processes, and help practicing those action parts that need repeated performance for habitualization, as often described in action theories (Valach, Young, & Lynam, 2002). Distinguishing between process and content not only helps life coaching in those areas in which the professional is a novice but also clearly outlines the field that life coaching should be about"not solving problems for clients but helping clients improve their problem-solving technique.

    Ellis stresses the role of language in this process, suggesting that our words create our lives"that is, our words create our actions, and our actions create our circumstances. This is a constructionist stance (Young & Collin, 2004), allowing the life coaching to engage with the client in the social construction of reality.

    The clients whose life coaching this book addresses might have been emotionally well balanced, but I wish that the chapter dealing with emotions and feelings had been more extensive, indicating a conceptualization of emotion processes that goes beyond the notion of necessity to release emotion. Action theories, although primarily dependent on the assumption of goal for defining their units of analysis, recognize the multiple and multilevel roles of emotion in action processes. Goal-directed processes of actions and projects as well as lifelong processes are dependent on good emotional functioning or integration at every level of the action organization. We cannot set priorities without accessing and mobilizing our emotions, we cannot process the goals set if unreflected emotions are operational, and we make many mistakes when habitual conflicting emotions are at work at the regulatory level of action organization.

    An action-theoretical stance is very helpful in appreciating this book, which was conceived of as a manual for life coaching. Once past the sometimes too-enthusiastic introductory part, the reader finds a clear, precise, competent, very informative, and sober outline of the practical procedure of life coaching. The author provides five chapters and 51 well-identified subchapters. For instance, chapter 2, "Mechanics of Life Coaching," contains the following subchapters: "Choosing Times and Ways to Meet,"Creating and Using a Life Coaching Agreement,"Getting Started With a Client,"Preparing for Session,"Staying Focused During Sessions,"Taking Notes,"Completing Sessions," and "Ending the Life Coaching Relationship." Each subchapter contains further detailed headings; for example, the subchapter "Getting Started With a Client" includes the following list: "Summarize the mechanics of coaching,"Ask what your client wants from the first session,"Survey your client's life,"Ask about conflicts between values and behaviors,"Ask for complaints and celebrations," and "Listen a lot and go longer." Some of these subheadings are treated in a very brief manner. "Listen a lot and go longer" is just restated as "Listen, listen and then listen some more" and "Allow some extra time for that." Listening is obviously a very important part of any professional activity based on interpersonal relationship and cannot be overstated. Other sections following subheadings are longer, consisting of a page or two, in which the author often introduces individual points to make the reading and readers' orientation to the text even easier. Ellis also engaged several life coaches, which helps him in presenting several topics from the point of view of both a life coach and a recipient. This raises the credibility of the provided information enormously, which is necessary as empirical literature is minimally quoted. The book cannot be called evidence-based, although relevant empirical literature for many of the statements could certainly be found. The strength of this manual is not in putting the empirical research results together into a procedure but in outlining a procedure in a coherent order for which conceptualization is, unfortunately, not explicated.

    This book offers easy and interesting reading for professionals and students of life coaching as well as of any other professional activity, which relies on interpersonal encounters. This revised paperback edition of the 1998 book would benefit not only helping professionals as indicated by the author and the publisher but also any shop assistant or businessperson dealing with customers.
  8. This is more than just a book about life coaching. It is a practical handbook in which Ellis shares his thoughts and ideas about how life coaching should be, work and help individuals.

    Each chapter builds, step by step, a solid basis enabling the reader to gain a clear understanding of the many aspects of life coaching. But this is more than just a how-to book. There are sections covering professional issues, ethics, CPD and marketing amongst others.

    This book is jargon-free and down to earth in its approach which is very refreshing.

    Whether you are already a life coach, are considering life coaching as a career, or are a therapist or counsellor who wants to understand life coaching and how it differs from their own work, this book is well worth reading.
  9. What an excellent book! Life-coaching has grown in popularity during the past few years because of its jargon-free and no-nonsense techniques - which are, nonetheless, easy to put into practice. I am positive that the contents of this book will prove to be a valuable resource for professionals as well as giving positive guidance to those seeking personal help.

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