Can a Life Coach Teach Self-Efficacy?

Firstly, what is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own capacity to successfully execute performance-specific behaviours to attain their goal which has a proactive effect on their performance. Albert Bandura, the father of self-efficacious philosophy said it best when he claimed, “perceived self-efficacy is concerned not with the number of skills you have, but with what you believe you can do with what you have under a variety of circumstances” (Bandura, 1997 :37 as cited in Palmer & Whybrow, 2019). Bandura saw people as ready agents of change that could contribute to the well-being of their lives and influence their circumstances with positive action to guide and motivate their efforts (Bandura 1982, 2005 as cited in Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).

One of the main roles of a life coach is to encourage their client to enhance their beliefs about what they think they can achieve. One’s belief will have a direct effect on their motivation and how they feel, which will then influence how they approach, tackle, and perform a task. Bandura, like many life coaches, attributes a positive belief in one’s abilities to enhanced human accomplishments and personal well-being.  Life coaches strive to encourage their client’s achievement motivation which then assists them to accomplish tasks, even if they are challenging.  This has a positive effect on the individual’s self-esteem, and they begin to improve their abilities and develop mastery orientation (Louw & Louw, 2014).

An individual’s beliefs about their efficacy can be developed by four main sources: 1) mastery experiences/successful past performance (which serve as capacity indicators); 2) vicarious experiences provided by social models; 3) verbal persuasion (and other social influences that inform the individual about the perception that others have of their abilities); and 4) psycho-physiological and emotional states (from which one infers his/her ability, strength and vulnerability to failure) (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019). Mastery experiences tend to provide the individual with the most benefits as they provide authentic evidence of the individual’s ability to perform, which becomes the basis for future success (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).

One must learn to face challenging tasks with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and an appreciation for their own inner motivation and perseverance to see them through the assigned task. Setting goals and self-efficacy go together as the goal provides the vision and guideline for the future, while self-efficacy directs one’s focus and behaviour over long periods of time to achieve the desired outcome, even in the absence of external incentives along the way (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).


Louw, D. A., & Louw, A. E. (2014). Early childhood. Child and adolescent development (2nd ed., pp. 152-222). Bloemfontein: Psychology publications.

Palmer, S., & Whybrow, A. (2019). Self-efficacy within coaching and coaching psychology. In S. Palmer (Eds),
Handbook of Coaching Psychology : A Guide for Practitioners (2nd ed.). Routledge.