25 Acronyms Life Coaches Should Know

Acronyms are a fact of everyday life. For the most part they are useful and can save time and effort.

I’m sure if I told you I had just bought a new Bavarian Motor Works vehicle you would look at me rather strangely and wonder why I didn’t simply say a BMW.

Similarly, if I asked you what your zone improvement plan number was you’d probably have no idea what I was talking about and quietly back away, when all I wanted was your Zip Code.

However, there are a lot of acronyms Life Coaches come across that they aren’t obvious and can be confusing.

This is exacerbated when people don’t like to ask for fear of looking stupid.

Today I’ll share a number that I use or hear on a regular basis that are in some way related to Life Coaching or the business element of building a successful practice.

25 Acronyms Life Coaches Should Know

1. NLP – Neurolinguistic Programming

A huge umbrella term used to describe many different techniques and processes co-developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder at Santa Cruz University in the mid 1970’s.

The linguistics element and some of the processes for effecting rapid change can be hugely helpful for Life Coaches in helping their clients.

You can read more by checking out ‘Should Life Coaches Learn NLP?’

2. EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique

This is also referred to as ‘Tapping’ and was developed by Gary Craig in the early 1990’s.

It works on the theory that tapping on certain parts of the body called meridians (also used by acupuncturists) can relieve conditions such as fears, anxiety and even phobias.

Thousands swear by it, thousands think it’s nonsense. I’m on the fence.

3. CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Aaron T Beck is largely credited with the growth of the highly popular CBT in the early 1960’s. However, Beck was heavily influenced by RET (Rational Emotive Therapy) and the work of Albert Ellis.

Even though it is commonly used in therapy and has been proven to be more successful in certain cases than traditional therapy, there are crossovers into coaching.

For example, CBT leans heavily on reframing (also called reappraisal and realignment)  as does coaching and NLP.

4. DSM V – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Not really something that coaches need to concern themselves with unless they wish to train in therapy at some stage, but it is the authoritative work for counselors and therapists.

But if you ever hear somebody refer to an explanation of a condition as listed in the DSM V (pronounced 5 not V), now you know why.

5. PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Again, not a condition a Life Coach should be dealing with unless it is managed and under control.

And even then I would strongly caution against working on the specific issue without a lot of experience.

Many people associate this with soldiers returning from war zones, but any serious traumatic event can cause PTSD.

It can also effect people in many different ways and contrary to popular belief only a fraction of people suffering from PTSD become violent or aggressive.

6. SMART Goals

I’m not keen on SMART goals because they miss out two crucial aspects and I expanded SMART to SMARTER.

Specific – The goal must be able to be read by another person and understood.

Measurable – If you cannot measure a goal, how do you know you are moving toward it?

Action Oriented – You need to take action to achieve it.

Realistic – Is it humanly possible for you to achieve it?

Time-bound – What is the end date for the goal to be achieved?

There’s a more in-depth look at SMARTER Goals in this post.

7. SWOT Analysis

It tends to be used more in business, but it is used by some coaches when working through issues with clients

Strengths – What are the advantages of this plan?

Weaknesses – What are the disadvantages compared to other approaches?

Opportunities – What areas can it open up that can be exploited for gain?

Threats – What are the risks, what could cause things to go awry?

8. Disc® Analysis

This is a personality profile that is used by some coaches to give them a greater insight into what makes their clients tick.

Quite honestly I prefer the values approach, but this is used the world over for psychometric testing

Dominance – Results focused person, quite possible type ‘A’.

Influence – Good relationship builder and collaborator.

Steadiness – Dependable, co-operative and usually sincere and honest.

Conscientious – Steady worker, good at looking at finer details and being accurate.

9. The GROW Model

Developed in the UK initially for coaching in the work environment there was no one person who completed the model although Sir John Whoitmore is often most associated with its introduction.

Goal – What is the desired end result?

Reality – Where is the person/business now?

Obstacles and Options – The former need to be identified and then options to deal with them.

Way Forward – What comes next? How can you achieve the desired result?

10. ICF – International Coach Federation

Although the ICF has no real teeth because coaching isn’t regulated, they are universally recognized as the authoritative body.

An ICF accreditation is not really necessary (I don’t have one) if you want to coach individuals, but it can be very useful if you want to work in the corporate sector.

It’s probably going to set you back between $5k and $10k though.

domain authority11. DA – Domain Authority

This is taking over from GPR (Google Page Rank) as the number one way to determine how much authority a website has.

It starts at 1 and goes up to 100. Any coach with a website above 20 is doing a pretty good job.

if you want to know site authorities which can be important for a guest posting strategy, you can download the Moz toolbar here.

Moz also allocates a PA (page authority) for each individual page on a site.

12. USP – Uniques Selling Proposition

Presuming you have a niche and an ideal client in your mind, what is it that you can offer them that may be your competitors cannot?

That is your USP and you should be metaphorically shouting it from the rooftops.

At Coach the Life Coach we have two USP’s. A money back guarantee and the fact that both myself and Karl have succeeded in doing what the people we teach want to do.

Note: I understand unique technically means that there is only one in the world. But try not to get too hung up on that and think of it more as being different to most.

Note 2: Check out Life Coaching Niches if you are struggling with yours.

13. ISP – Internet Service Provider

The company that amazingly enough, provides you with your Internet service. 

Not to be confused with IP address which means Internet Protocol and assigns a unique number to every router.

43. PPC – Pay Per Click

A term originally coined by Google.

Coaches wishing to advertise their services can pay a certain amount of money depending on the popularity of the keyword they are advertising for.

Then every time a person clicks on that advertisement they are billed the appropriate amount.

Also now used by Facebook with the option to also pay by how many times the ad has been seen (called impressions) rather than clicked on – this is usually called CPM or cost per thousand.

You may also see CPC, which is cost per click.

15. ROI – Return On investment

I once got told I was greedy using my newsletter as a tool to sell my services.

Well the fact is, Aweber costs me well over $1,000 per year and I probably spend another $5k of my time writing and offering free information to help people.

I need a return on that investment to maintain a sustainable business.

Always be aware of your ROI. if you are doing something that isn’t returning your investment either stop doing it or alter your approach.

You may also see KPI (key performance indicators) which are somewhat similar, but highlights which areas you are spending your time on that are delivering the best results so you can focus on them even more.

16. UX – User Experience

This is rapidly growing in importance as Google shifts away from traditional search methods to offer its users the best experience possible.

UX cover site load times, easy navigation, high quality content that offer solutions and a host of other things.

One of the main reasons I wanted Karl to join me is he is a UX expert.

17. SEO – Search Engine Optimization

18. SEM – Search Engine Marketing

19. SERP’s – Search Engine Ranking Pages

If you would like to know more about these you can read the blog post ‘SEO Made Simple For Life Coaches’

In essence the first is what you do to get your site found on Google through onsite and offsite optimization for words you want potential clients to find you under.

The second is what you do to market your content through Social Media and outreach programs to help build backlinks .

And the third is what you see when you do a search in Google.

You may also see SMO and SMM which are Social Media Optimization and Social Media Marketing.

RSS feed logo20. RSS – Really Simple Syndication

This is how people sign up for your blog posts and I’m sure you will have seen the logo on the right.

Originally most people signed up via a blog reader but after Google abandoned theirs some while ago most people use RSS to sign up via e-mail.

21. IBL – Inbound Link

This is a hyperlink from another website linking to you.

For the most part the more you have the better. However, you don’t want dubious websites like casino or porn sites linking to you otherwise Google may punish you.

22. API – Application Program Interface

Not something that most coaches need to concern themselves with unless they are fairly techie, but it refers to the way two applications talk to each other and the explosion in the mobile market is making them increasingly imperative.

23. B2B – Business to Business

24. B2C Business To Consumer

if you are wanting to work with corporations and help them internally with coaching then you are a B2B organization.

If like me you deal with individuals, then you are a B2C.

25. TMI – Too Much Information

This post may have been TMI for you to grasp in one go and some of it may be irrelevant to you.

I’d suggest you bookmark it for future reference, and please do tell me in the comments if I have missed any crucial ones or any you have found most useful.


  1. Michael Wecke

    My UX of CTLC (abbreviation not covered) is great. You probably use the “SMARTI” approach. The “I” stands for “Innovative”.

  2. There is also WTF. Often used regarding some of your headlines 🙂

    And my personal favourite, TLA (Three Letter Acronym)

    On a more serious note, I was surprised not to see AIDA, as you taught me what it was ( re marketing) 🙂

    Get their ATTENTION, Keep their INTEREST, Make them DESIRE more (and/or your product / service), Get them to take ACTION.

    • Tim Brownson

      I considered AIDA and only left it out as I have written a post on it and felt to do it justice it would have required too much space for an already lon g post.

      Also, outside of sales it’s not an acronym that coaches are very likely to see without and accompanying explanation, but it’s a fair point mate!