Life coaches offer unconventional methods of help
DENVER – Keith Ward got his start as a life coach in Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s when the industry was in its infancy. Few had an idea what life coaching meant. Many confused it with other jobs.
“People would walk up to me and ask, ‘What do you do for a living?’ And I’d tell them ‘I’m a coach,’” Ward said. “Everyone asked me, ‘What sport do you coach?’ and I had to say, ‘No, I’m a life coach. It’s different.’”
The 72-year-old Beaver Falls, Pa. native has over 20 years of experience in life coaching. He no longer has to define his job to strangers because more people know what life coaching means. But Ward admitted he explains his duties to prospective clients with a simple metaphor.
“I use golf to explain it,” Ward said. “It’s a mental game. Sometimes you’re swinging away and things are great. But something can change and all of a sudden you’re not the same as you were hours before and you can’t overcome it.
“I work with people to fix those types of glitches but in the unconscious sense, not the golf sense.”
Ward, a Denver resident, said he’s had a keen interest in how the mind works since the late 1960s. He read Isaac Asimov’s “The Brain” and it prompted him to begin a lifelong career in psychology. He holds a Ph.D. in education and a minor in psychology from Michigan State University.
He’s one of many life coaches who make an impact on others’ lives. Nationally renowned coaches include Tony Robbins, Les Brown and Dr. Wayne Dyer.
Ward helps clients throughout the area with issues like insomnia, fears and phobias, and smoking. He uses a process called Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to work with a client’s unconscious mind to solve problems. Ward said he employs hypnotism to help his clients quit smoking if the practice is deemed necessary.
Over 90 percent of life coaches work with clients’ conscious minds. Ward is one of the few who specializes in unconscious work.
He works with as many as 12 clients or as few as three or four at any time. Ward’s coaching sessions usually last between two and four meetings. Results come quickly.
Ward said he thinks his work makes a difference on those who seek his assistance. That’s why he does it.
“I never wanted to be a therapist, and doing what I do helps people solve problems they thought they could never solve,” Ward said. “I call what I do ‘refining.’”
Ward pointed to two reasons why his industry is rapidly growing: more people are open to going to a life coach, and others are interested in becoming life coaches to make an impact.
“It’s a helpful tool for people,” Ward said.
Charlotte-based coach Pam Burton echoed Ward’s sentiment.
Burton defined life coaching as “the transportation to transformation.”
“I believe the coaching business is booming because people are realizing that coaching is about ‘creating a life,’” she said. “Coaches provide tools to help individuals overcome the paradigms that hold them back from the life of their dreams.”
Ward said the industry has developed a large following since he first began it. But his job’s message hasn’t changed.
“People sometimes think that some things that bother them can’t be fixed,” Ward said.
“I’m out to help show them that they can be fixed. And there are people out there ready to help them.”