What is a spiritual life coach?

Photo: my client workspace

What is a spiritual life coach?

(And, how to find the right one for you)

If you’ve found your way here, I’m guessing you already know at least a little about life coaching, and you care about spirituality too. Now you may be wondering: Just what is a spiritual life coach?

Maybe you’ve heard the term “spiritual life coach” somewhere and want to learn more. (Great, I’ve got you! In this article, I’ll be explaining what a spiritual life coach is, and why you might want to seek one out instead of a traditional life coach.)

Or maybe you’re not even sure “spiritual life coach” is a real thing, but you could really use a coach who is open to hearing about your spiritual life along with the rest of you. (If this is you, don’t worry—spiritual life coaches are out there, and I’ll be walking you through how to make sure you find a good fit.)

Introduction to Spiritual Life Coaching

Let’s start with the basics: What is a life coach, anyway?

A life coach is a trained professional whose role is to support you in finding fulfillment. Working with a coach, you can:

  • Discover what you really long for.
  • Move through even the biggest, messiest challenges with greater ease and resilience.
  • Create a life that is deeply, joyfully aligned with who you really are. 

This is profound, important work that happens simultaneously on the deepest levels of the soul and on the most practical, day-to-day levels.  

And it happens through structured coaching conversations that invite you to: 

  1. Get clearer on what you really want.
  2. Explore practical ways you could move closer to that vision—including navigating through the internal and external obstacles on your way.
  3. Decide on what steps you’re ready to take today to make it happen, based on your own sense of what’s right for you.

How is spiritual life coaching different?

So what’s the difference between a traditional life coach and a spiritual life coach? A spiritual life coach does everything a traditional life coach does, and supports you in drawing on your spirituality so you can:

  • Develop a deep, loving connection to your own soul and its longings.
  • Use spiritual practices to help you gain insight into your situation, including what’s holding you back and what will help you move forward.
  • Build a life that nourishes your deepest self.

How does it work? Let’s take a closer look at how each of the 3 coaching steps might play out in spiritual life coaching.

What is a spiritual life coach?

Step 1: Getting clearer on what you really want

The single most important question in all life coaching is very simple: What do you really want?

Simple enough on the surface, anyway. But how often do you allow yourself to ask, what do I really, really want? Not what you think you should want, or what other people expect you to want–but what do you really want?

That’s where your life coach comes in. They’ll encourage you to ask yourself what you really want, and then really listen to the answers that bubble up from inside you. As you explore with your coach, you’ll grow in clarity about who you are, what brings you joy, and what you were born to do with your life.

Now, all life coaches can do that. But a spiritual life coach can support you in going deeper, through silence and spiritual practices that help you get more deeply connected to your soul’s true longings.

Many of my clients, for example, find it tremendously helpful just to weave in some reflective silence during a coaching session. If you’re not sure of what you want or need around the situation you’ve brought to coaching that day, we can sit in silence, inviting your intuition to give you a nudge, an image, or an idea that can help you get clearer on what your heart and soul really want.

And we don’t do this in a vacuum, either. A good spiritual life coach understands that each of us is profoundly impacted by the larger realities and structures of the world.

Because of the entrenched social structures we live in, life is harder for some than for others. And there’s no such thing as an isolated individual. You and the longings of your soul are deeply connected with the rest of the world, with all its sorrows, challenges, and joys. Your actions matter, in ways that extend far beyond yourself.

The coaching relationship can hold all that. A spiritual life coach can support you as you explore your place and purpose in life, so you can find ways to make a positive difference not just for yourself, but for the larger world.

Now let’s look at the second phase of the coaching process:

What is a spiritual life coach?

Step 2: Exploring practical ways you could move closer to that vision—including navigating through the inner and outer obstacles on your way.

Once you’ve started to get some clarity about what you really long for, the coaching conversation may shift to a new question: How do you get there?

Any life coach can help you explore your options. But a spiritual life coach can support you in using spiritual practices so you can tap into your intuition, creativity, and spiritual resources on a deeper level.

Many spiritual practices can help you access your intuitive knowing: nonlinear, non-logic-based knowledge; images; seemingly random ideas; and creative leaps and hunches that broaden your thinking around what’s possible for you.

In my own spiritual coaching practice, for example, some of my clients are interested in shamanic journeying as a way of seeking guidance on life challenges. If they wish, I teach them how to journey so they can get direct advice and support from what my tradition calls compassionate helping spirits. The answers that come forth are often very simple and practical, and sometimes wildly unexpected!

Other clients have a practice of working with tarot or oracle cards. They might pull a card before or during a coaching session and explore how its meaning connects with the question or situation they’ve brought to coaching.

Or what if you’ve had a dream that feels connected to the situation you want to explore in coaching? A spiritual life coach with training in dreamwork can help you explore what practical guidance the dream might have for you.

But coaching doesn’t stop with gaining insight and exploring possibilities. In coaching, you’ll also be encouraged to decide for yourself what you’ll do as you move forward.

Step 3: Deciding on what steps you’re ready to take today to make it happen, based on your own sense of what’s right for you.

Each time you meet, your spiritual life coach will invite you to commit to taking some kind of concrete action to move forward on your goals and desires. But the specifics of what you commit to are entirely up to you.

For example, let’s say you’re contemplating looking for a new job. You might decide that before your next coaching session, you’ll:

  • Reflect more about yourself and your current work situation.
  • Or research what it would take to get qualified for a different position.
  • Or update your resume.
  • Or reach out to people you know who could help.
  • Or apply for a particular job, or 5, or 10 jobs.
  • Or whatever action or actions sit just right in your soul when you think about how you want to move forward.

When you meet with your coach next, they’ll invite you to share how it went. If you accomplished what you committed to, great! If you weren’t able to, that’s OK too. Your coach can help you explore whatever got in the way, so you can learn from the experience.

Bottom line: In coaching, we go at your pace. We celebrate not just your big wins and accomplishments, but also the seemingly small actions that reflect the deep shifts happening inside.

And over time, your spiritual life coach will be there to support you as you move closer and closer to the life you really long for—the life you create for yourself in partnership with your soul.

What is a spiritual life coach?

How to choose the right spiritual life coach for you

If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, you might be wondering, how do I choose a spiritual life coach?

Here are some tips:

How to find a spiritual life coach

If you don’t know any spiritual life coaches already, where do you even start?

First, decide if you want to work with someone in person or online.

Of course, it’s up to you. But if you’re open to working online, you’ll have a far wider selection of potential coaches to choose from.

In your geographic area, you may or may not be able to find a life coach you click with, especially if you don’t live in a large city. Try an online search for “spiritual life coach near me” and see what comes up.

But online, you can choose from many different coaches, each with their own specialty, style, and energy, so you’ll have the freedom to work with exactly the right coach for you. Plus, there’s no commute involved!

To search for spiritual life coaches online, try a directory like CoachCompare, using the keyword “spiritual.” From there, browse around and see whom you’re drawn to.

One thing: When working with a coach online, you’ll need to make sure you have access to a private space for your coaching calls, so you can talk about whatever comes up without fear of being overheard.

If home or work isn’t a good option, you might need to get creative. How about a quiet spot outdoors, or a room in your local public library? Sitting in your car is just fine too, as long as the weather isn’t too hot or cold. (Obviously, please don’t drive while you’re on a video call!)

What to look for in a spiritual life coach

Most coaches these days have a website, and that’s where I’d encourage you to start. Check out their homepage, their “About” page, and of course the services they offer. As you read, how does it all land with you? If you find yourself nodding in recognition as they describe what they do and who they work with, this is a good sign. Ideally, it will feel as if they already know you and what you’re struggling with!

This is because every coach has their own “niche”—the kinds of people and/or issues they’re best equipped to work with. No coach can help everyone in the world with every kind of issue.

And so, the more you resonate with how a coach describes themselves and their work, the more likely they are to be able to provide the kind of support that will be most effective for you.

That said, if your coach doesn’t have a website, that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. One of the best coaches I know works entirely on a word-of-mouth basis.

In that case, it’ll be even more important to pay attention to how you feel when you first talk with them.

What is a spiritual life coach?

Things to notice when you first meet a potential coach

Almost all spiritual life coaches will offer a free initial meeting or call, so you and they can get a sense of whether it feels like a good fit on both sides.

So, what should you be looking for during that initial conversation?

First and foremost, your spiritual life coach should be someone you feel safe with.

Your spiritual life coach is someone with whom you’ll likely be exploring some of the deepest questions of your life: Who am I? What would make me truly happy? And what am I supposed to be doing with my life? For you to be able to go to those deep places with a coach, it’s vital that you feel safe in their presence.

So, when you meet a potential coach for the first time, either online or in person, notice how you feel in their presence. How is your body feeling? Do you feel calm and at ease, or agitated and off-kilter?

It’s normal to feel some anxiety when you meet a potential coach. Maybe some jitters and nervousness. That’s only natural when you’re wondering if this person is going to be the right person to support you.

Hopefully that feeling of anxiety will dissipate as you start talking. Do you feel your shoulders starting to relax? Does it feel easy and natural? Is there some easy laughter along the way? Those are all good signs.

I also encourage you to look for signs of spiritual maturity in any coach you’re considering working with.

Spiritual maturity isn’t about perfection. No coach is perfect, spiritually or otherwise.

But a coach who is spiritually mature knows who they are, feels connected to spirit however they understand it, has compassion for themselves and others, and respects other people’s boundaries. They’re easy to be around because they’re not trying to use other people to fill a hole in themselves.

Questions to ask a potential coach

When you talk with a spiritual life coach, they’ll almost certainly be happy to answer any  questions you have about their background, style, and ways of working.

Here’s a short list of questions I recommend, along with what I’d be looking for if I were seeking a spiritual life coach:

  • What kind of training, certifications, and affiliations do you have, both in coaching and in your own spiritual tradition(s)?

Most reputable spiritual life coaches will have completed a professional coach training program of some kind. Many are also certified, though certification is not legally required to practice as a life coach. In the United States, the main certifying bodies are the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).

In addition, most spiritual life coaches will have received spiritual training from some sort of organized spiritual or religious community, and will maintain connections with that or some other community. If they don’t have any spiritual or religious affiliation, I would want to ask more about how they get support for their own spiritual journey, and how they hold themselves accountable to practicing in an ethical manner.

Which brings me to my next recommended question:   

  • What is your approach to ethics in working with clients?

Here, the two big things I’d be looking for are: 1) They hold their work with clients in strict confidence, and 2) They strive to be mindful of power differences between them and their clients, which includes refraining from any sexual or romantic involvement with clients.

If a coach won’t agree to those things, run away!

You might also want to ask a couple of questions about their coaching style, such as:

  • What would a typical coaching session be like?

In life coaching, a session typically begins with checking in on your progress since last time, then moves into setting the agenda for today’s session and exploring the topics you’ve chosen. Toward the end, the coach will invite you to reflect on what you’ve learned and decide on how you want to move forward.

Within that basic framework, each coach has their own style. It’s important for you to understand and feel comfortable with their approach to coaching clients.

  • How would you help me stay on track with my goals and commitments?

Part of a spiritual life coach’s job is to invite you to set goals and decide on how to move toward them, then check back each time you meet about the progress you’ve made. This kind of gentle accountability is an essential part of the coaching process.

Different coaches have different styles, systems, and processes around accountability. Again, the important thing is for you to feel comfortable with what you’re hearing.

I also encourage you to talk with a prospective coach directly about spirituality, theirs and yours, to make sure there’s a good fit in this vital and tender area of life. You might ask them:

  • How do you bring spirituality into your coaching work?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, except that a spiritual life coach should never force their own spiritual beliefs or practices on you. They should never tell you what to think, or what to believe, or what to do, when it comes to spirituality or any other area of life.

And, it’s really important that you and your spiritual life coach can accept and appreciate each other’s spirituality. You don’t have to have the same spiritual beliefs and experience as your coach for it to be a great fit. Mutual respect and appreciation is what I encourage you to look for.

For this reason, whatever you feel safe sharing about your spirituality will help you and a prospective coach discern whether you’re a good fit for each other. You deserve to work with someone who can support you wholeheartedly!

What if it doesn’t feel like a fit?

What is a spiritual life coach?

As you talk with a potential coach, it might be that what they have to offer isn’t exactly what you need. 

Sometimes that happens. It’s part of the process of figuring out what you do need.

So don’t worry about the coach being offended if you don’t choose to work with them. Any reputable coach will understand they’re not the right fit for everybody.

And if you feel uneasy around this person, like something’s off, or something’s not right, please trust that feeling and move on. You don’t have to be able to articulate exactly what’s wrong. You don’t owe them an explanation or justification for your decision. You can just say “no, thanks,” end of story.

Then, try another coach! Reach out to another spiritual life coach, set up a conversation with them, and see where it goes. There are so many gifted, compassionate coaches out there who would love to support you. Though it might take a few tries, I believe you can find the one who’s just right for you.

In conclusion…

Thanks so much for staying with me on this journey to learn about spiritual life coaching and how to find the right coach for you. I’m wishing you all the best. And if you have any questions, please reach out to me. I’d be glad to connect!


Ask me anything.

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