If you’re looking for support, it’s important that your investment of time, effort and of course money is going to help you as much as possible! Here’s a quick guide to making sure it does.
Despite there being millions of life coaches, and people looking to work with them, the coaching industry remains unregulated at the moment.
This means it’s hard to know what training and experience coaches actually have. This can range from no training at all, all based on teaching themselves to coach, to an online “become a life coach in 7 days for £7” style course all the way through to coaches who have invested years into becoming the most effective coach they can.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that a brand new coach with very little training can’t be great (we all start somewhere!) but there are so many instances of coaches charging a heck of a lot of money for coaching without the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience needed to best support clients.
So here’s what you can do!
1) A good place to start is a verified directory of Life Coaches (such as Life Coach Directory in the UK or the International Coaching Federation website)
To be included on these directories, coaches are verified before being accepted, so you can be sure that the coach has demonstrated a minimum level of experience and training. On these directories you can find a huge range of specialist areas, skills and price ranges to fit your needs
2) Don’t be afraid to book free consultations and ask questions!
It’s important that the coach you choose to work with communicates in a way which makes you feel heard, understood and supported in a judgement free environment. It should be important to a coach that you both believe it’s the right match.
While in theory I can help “anyone” who is truly ready to be coached, the coaching magic happens when a coach and client really click with each other, so this is the focus for me, rather than working with everyone, so that I know a coachee is getting the best possible coaching experience.
You may wish to speak to several coaches and many offer a free “discovery” or “chemistry” call to help you find the right fit. Using directories as mentioned above can make this much simpler as you can filter!
3) Understand the difference between “certified” and “accredited”
We live in a world where being certified is celebrated, but it’s surprisingly easy to become a certified almost anything! For example, I could set up a course on my website to give you a certificate of completion to be a certified dog petter – whether that would actually give you the skills and experience you need for this is another matter entirely! (I hope you see what I’m getting at, anyone can certify, including individuals so it doesn’t always mean what you expect it to!) If you’re seeing people calling themselves certified coaches, it’s worth checking out where the certification came from eg. an ICF certified coach (International Coaching Federation) is very different from someone who has done a self led online videos course on a platform such as Udemy. It is also a good idea to find an accredited coach (eg. ICF or Association for Coaching (AC)) as this means they work to guidelines and ethics which are set by an external body and they have demonstrated a minimum required level of training and competency including submitting recordings which are assessed against markers for efficacy, safety and ethics.
4) If you want to work with a coach in a particular area eg. Menopause, Nutrition, (or ADHD like me!)
Check out whether their experience is based on “lived experience” alone or also topic specific training on top of coach training.
Although lived experience is hugely relevant and can lead to brilliant coaches, having gone through something personally does not automatically mean that someone will be able to to coach someone else effectively in this area.
I see this a lot in business coaching where there’s a big shiny promise to make £1000s if you follow their method (which isn’t actually coaching, it’s teaching and replicating what they did, which can lead to you feeling rubbish if it doesn’t work for you!)
A lot of these coaches aren’t actually trained in coaching, they are mentoring and teaching, rather than able to adapt to a particular clients needs.
Now this isn’t a business coach bashing – it’s just an easy example to give which makes sense in a context but it happens in all industries… Lived experience is important and can be incredibly helpful, but just check what other training and experience your potential coach has because it will help you make an informed decision.
5) PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT! Take your time…
Although it can seem as though getting started with a coach as quickly as possible is the answer, this is a long term investment you’re making to help you shape the whole of your future.
Give yourself time and space to chat to a few people, consider what option is right for yourself (I know that can be hard if things feel confusing) perhaps even booking a one off taster session with a couple of coaches to get a feel for their style as this is very different from a discovery call where no coaching takes place. I know it can feel so exciting to connect with a particular coach on social media (for example) immediately feel that they are the answer for you and try and sign up as quickly as possible, but do try to remember that you have time, space and options to make sure it’s the right choice for you.
And PLEASE be wary of scarcity and urgency tactics – not necessarily a wrong thing to go with but just keep in mind that often this isn’t real
PHEW – I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you here, but there is a lot to consider when you’re looking to work with a life coach
Overall, the connection you feel with a coach and a demonstration that they have the skills needed to help you with your particular situation is the top thing to focus on but I hope I’ve given you a few pointers to help you in the right direction in making your decision. If you’d like to talk to me about how I could support you or book a taster session with me to give it a trial run then please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll take care of the rest! GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR SEARCH! And Congratulations on making this decision for yourself, it’s a brave step to take!