The New York Journal of Books commenced operations at the start of 2010.  The site is currently running as a beta. Our planned permanent site will have substantially enhanced content and functionality.  Additionally, the volume of reviews will increase as will the portion of reviews published on a book's date of release.


Therapist as Life Coach: An Introduction for Counselors and Other Helping Professionals by Patrick Williams and Deborah Davis


(W. W. Norton & Company, 2007)

This book is an excellent reference tool for professionals in the “helping field” who are interested in making the transition to becoming a professional life coach, or for therapists interested in incorporating life coaching as part of their practice. The credentials and experience of both authors are worth noting as they lend credence to the authoritative knowledge presented to the reader.

Author Pat Williams became a psychologist after obtaining degrees in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, but later decided to make the transition into life coaching. After closing his therapy practice, he dedicated all of his energy to training therapists who expressed interest in becoming part of this burgeoning field. Co-author Deborah Davis, a career counselor and family therapist with a developing interest in life coaching, contacted Mr. Williams after reading an article he wrote about the subject in a Marriage and Family Therapy newsletter. This book is the result of a mutual commitment to facilitating the transition for other helping professionals.

This book presents a plethora of useful information beginning with a clear explanation of the skills and traits commonly developed by both therapists and life coaches that pave the way for therapists to make a smooth and successful transition to a new life coaching career. The differences between a life coach and therapy are also addressed clearly and concisely as well.

Life coaching and therapy differ in several important ways. Coaching was originally synonymous with mentoring, which began in the corporate environment. Executive coaching was a perk reserved for upper level management. Though the roots of life coaching have a basis in psychological theories, life coaches view the client as a creator of his/her own life and reject the model of therapy that views a client as having a diagnosed illness that needs to be treated. Thus, unlike most traditional therapy, life coaching focuses on the future (not the past), and the life coaching relationship is a partnership versus the therapy relationship that views the therapist as the expert and the client as a patient. Though many of the skills of a therapist and life coach are similar, such as empathic listening and a positive regard for the client, the focus of life coaching is primarily solution- and action-oriented. A life coach is a co-creator and partner with a client to set achievable, realistic goals.

The first thought for therapists who want to make the transition to life coaching is often a fear of making a monumental shift in their thinking and applied techniques, but the authors approach this concern in a direct fashion to assuage those fears. In a chapter entitled “Reclaiming Your Soul: The Joyfulness of Life Coaching,” the advantages and rewards (both intrinsic and financial) of a life coaching career are delineated in such an enticing manner that almost any helping professional might be persuaded to give this matter further contemplation.

A blueprint for actual coaching sessions that provides a clear methodology for empowering clients in the attainment of their goals is a key ingredient that makes this book a cut above other books of its ilk. Another critical piece toward the end of the book is the “Welcome Packet” for new coaches to use in their practice; it contains typical forms such as client procedures, a sample life coaching agreement, client data form, and other templates that can be adapted as needed. Lastly, one of the major concerns of anyone making this type of career transition is addressed in the chapter “Developing and Marketing Your Life Coaching Practice.” This section is a cornucopia of ideas for targeting suitable clients and building a positive professional reputation. The Marketing Checklist is an effective tool to hone key strategies for a successful plan in this arena.

Therapist as Life Coach: An Introduction for Counselors and Other Helping Professionals is more than an introductory tour of life coaching as a career and the steps required to be successful on this new path. It is a practical yet soulful approach to making a major life-changing decision that also provides encouragement, guidance, and critical tools for making a successful transition.

Reviewer Laura Schultz is a freelance writer and President of Counseling at Your Service in Los Angeles.  She has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 25 years and a life coach specializing in sexuality, addiction, and childhood trauma. She has published articles in several national magazines on sexuality, relationships, communication, spirituality, and health and wellness topics.