The Power Of Belief In Life Coaching

Beliefs are powerful and they really matter. One of the most interesting (and somewhat puzzling) demonstrations of the power of belief is the placebo effect.

The word placebo (which means ‘I will please’ in Latin) originated in medicine from treatments that were given to “please” the patient rather than to benefit them medically. In other words, doctors started noticing that giving some patients a sugar pill (which did nothing for them medically) could provide comfort and calm the patient. Placebos were widespread in medicine until the 20th century.

Psyblog recently reported about amazing demonstration of the placebo effect in a study by Kirsch et al., (2008), that reviewed the results from 35 clinical trials of modern antidepressant medications like Prozac:

“The response to placebo in these trials was exceptionally large, duplicating more than 80% of the improvement observed in the drug groups. In contrast, the effect of placebo on pain is estimated to be about 50% of the response to pain medication.”

In other words, 80% of people’s improvement after taking anti-depression drugs like Prozac was exactly the same as people who took a sugar pill instead!

On the other hand, the medication in pain pills has a much more significant and noticeable effect than sugar pills (people can tell the difference between real pain medicine and a placebo much more easily).

The placebo effect is a remarkable demonstration of the power of belief. If you believe and expect that something will help you, there’s a greater chance that it actually will.

For life coaching, this means that it’s important that clients believe in the power, value and benefits of coaching. You may need to help them understand and develop this belief as part of the process. The more they believe and expect that coaching will work for them, the greater the chances that it actually will.




  1. That’s why I love coaching. Clients voluntarily seek services ready to learn about themselves and their life. They want to make changes and are ready to do whatever it takes. I believe we provide them the instruction and the encouragement to do what they already want to do – take them to a better place in their life.

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