Psychology in Life Coaching

Life Coaching versus Psychology

Life coaching differs from psychology in that it is less analytical, more future-oriented, and provides direct suggestions for solutions.

Unlike psychotherapy, the focus is therefore less on processing problems or looking back on the past.

Life Coaching helps to discover talents that lie dormant in every person. It wants to help people find the right way to discover themselves.


Psychology In Life Coaching

The basis of life coaching is the humanistic psychology of the American Carl Rogers. He placed listening, the experience of interpersonal interaction, and the pursuit of self-actualization at the center of his approach.

If you want to realize yourself, you first have to change existing thought patterns. This can be done using what is called reframing, in which a person seeks a new frame for a behavior or experience. This is sometimes true across cultures with expats or migrants. Here it is important to find a balance between one’s own values and those of others.

In addition to the mind, Life Coaching also focuses on one’s own intuition. Ideally, what is experienced consciously and unconsciously coincide, which promotes one’s creativity and brings about a state of happiness – flow. Children possess this gift through no fault of their own: they experience feelings of happiness without having to make an effort to do so, and they are always excited. Life Coaching wants to help adults to find this original state again.

Humanistic psychology – active listening

One of the most effective tools in life coaching is active listening. It should recognize important statements and feelings of the counterpart and (re)formulate them clearly in simple language.

This only succeeds if the coach generates trust, if his thinking, feeling and speaking are sincere. Thus, when there is congruence (congruence) between thinking, feeling, and speaking.

The coach’s goal is to reach a level of conversation at eye level.


Breaking patterns in thinking – Reframing

The term reframing comes from NLP, neuro-linguistic programming. This assumes that processes in the brain (neuro) can be changed (programmed) with the help of language (linguistic) and thus wants to break through existing thought patterns.

Reframing is a creative reinterpretation of old behavior patterns. The metaphor refers to the fact that a picture frame shows only a section of an overall picture, a part of reality and a subjective image. Those who understand this can change their perspective.

In context reframing, the complaint is preserved and presented as useful. ” I’m always so impatient -> “I would say impatience is often an advantage as an energetic manager”

In meaning reframing, the complaint is reinterpreted and the content is changed. ” I am unsure ” -> ” I would say you are more cautious “

Seen in a new light (context reframing), disruptive behaviors can thus be turned into positive ones or stopped.

Meaning reframing (content reframing), on the other hand, changes neither the context nor the situation as such, but only our thoughts in this regard.

Such reframings are known from fairy tales, fables and stories. They throw up new perspectives: Good becomes evil and vice versa.

The fable of the fox who cannot reach the grapes hanging unreachably high is considered exemplary here. By declaring them too sour, he comes to terms with the situation better.


Psychology - fable with fox and grapes - mountain in background

Cross-cultural: expats and migrants

Someone who decides to leave his fatherland (ex- patria) expands his horizons in a double sense. His environment is different from now on and the people who surround him have different values.

These changes can lead to adjustment problems. Homesickness, spatial separation from family, isolation and boredom can be possible consequences. In general, the feeling of being a foreign body in the new (German) culture can arise.

This is not about culture in the narrow sense – education, art and literature – but about culture in the anthropological sense. Indeed, it is about deeper values (consolidated in norms and laws) that are not immediately visible to outsiders. They are only apparently visible on the basis of clichés such as the German preference for tidiness, cleanliness, etc.


The following questions may arise

  • How do my norms and values relate to those of German culture? -> Understanding values and finding a balance
  • Do I have to give up the values of my own culture ? -> Do I want to integrate or assimilate?
  • Why can’t I find a connection? Are the Germans too closed/open for me?
  • What can I change about this situation? -> Feel more familiar with German culture

Creativity – Creative Phases

Creativity is flexible and original thinking, but also lateral thinking, which seeks spontaneous and intuitive solutions to tasks and problems. The model of the four phases of the creative process goes back to the observations of the French mathematician Henri Poincaré.

Poincaré identified certain elements that almost always appeared in a similar way during his thought work.

1st phase of preparation (recognizing the problem or challenge). This is about discovering and collecting information. The raw material can later be used to develop creative solutions.

2nd phase of incubation (maturation process) A phase of relaxation follows. In this, the problem sinks down into the subconscious, is even seemingly forgotten. In the subconscious, thoughts sort themselves out anew, new insights emerge without voluntary action.

3rd phase of illumination (The flash of inspiration) The long-awaited solution suddenly emerges from the subconscious. This is due to intuition, which unearths the subliminal and brings it to light.

4. phase of verification (verification of feasibility) The fourth phase, also called the design phase, systematically works out approaches to solutions, which the mind then dissects and analyzes.

Intuitive solutions often emerge when people do not think consciously and relieve their minds with other activities. The brain that has been unfocused in this way can now become creative. It’s no wonder that thoughts often rearrange themselves and become ideas while walking or just before falling asleep. If you don’t write them down, you usually forget them the next morning.

Not the much knowledge, not the doctrines learned by heart, not the many guidebooks and textbooks read, but the ideas, the inner convictions, the world and human images with which we walk around determine our thinking, feeling and acting. (Gerald Hüther Neurobiologist)


Happiness – flow experience

The flow experience is a mental state that occurs when a person is completely absorbed in their activity. A phase of forgetfulness of self and time develops. In short, something fascinates us enormously and captivates us completely. In this context, the American psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has developed a concept of flow and streaming. He emphasizes the importance of a playful element through which man becomes creative-formative.

The flow experience occurs when we pursue a clear goal, focus and concentrate on it, and lose track of time. By thus becoming absorbed in ourselves, action and consciousness merge. If we receive direct feedback at the same time, i.e. if success or failure becomes immediately visible, we can immediately adjust our actions. This gives us a sense of control over our actions. The activity rewards us because the existing balance between requirement and ability does not allow boredom to arise.

Boredom is considered the antithesis of flow, but it is not something negative per se. It comes over everyone now and then and can be used positively – according to the theory of reframing. In this way, boredom can be used as a (maturation) phase in the creative process and can even serve as a source of inspiration:

The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure, undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor. […] Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one’s mental equilibrium. It is your window on time’s infinity. Once this window opens, don’t try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.

-Joseph Brodsky writer


Personality analysis – psychology & nlp


Big 5 in psychology

The Big 5 theory is based on a collection of trait words that describes 5 dimensions of personality.

The result of this analysis is not judgmental, it only gives indications of behavioral tendencies. The evaluation is helpful when it comes to self-assessment and assessment by others, but also practical when it comes to study or career choice/change.

Roughly, the following main dimensions can be distinguished in personality psychology, each of which expresses:

  1. How sensitive we are → Emotional sensitivity (self-confident/vulnerable)
  2. where we direct our energy → Extraversion (reserved/sociable)
  3. how we think → openness to experience (constant/experimental)
  4. how we live → conscientiousness (spontaneous/ purposeful)
  5. how we interact → compatibility (competitive/ cooperative)

Sorts in NLP

NLP has similar categories, except that they are called metaprograms or sorts. They should help to better assess oneself and others and to achieve one’s own goals more easily by making one aware of which programs are running (un)consciously.

Sorts are situation- and relationship-specific: at home, at work, or with friends, we behave differently every time. They are practical in personal and professional application


  1. Sort on the topic of action/activity I like to wait and see how things develop. → proactive versus reactive/waiting (with Jung: active type versus passive type)
  2. Sort on the topic of relationships I think it’s important that I get along well with my colleagues, money is important to me too, but not crucial. → Closeness versus distance (with Jung: thinking type versus feeling type).
  3. Sort on the topic of thinking styles I think it’s nice to develop (personal) projects, but sometimes get lost in minutiae. → Overview versus detail (with Jung: intuitive type versus sensory type) Both theories have in common that they originate from C.G. Jung.