Life Coach was a new term for me when Mark Tidsworth approached me about becoming one almost 8 years ago. Although Mark assured me that I already had the gifts to do this because it was what I had been doing in my ministry for years, I made the commitment to receive formal training and seek a certified coaching credential.
I eventually completed the necessary training, the hours of being coached by a mentor, and the required number of coaching hours—both paid and pro bono—and ended up with two coaching credentials. Part of the requirement to maintain one of those credentials is continuing education hours and on-going mentor coaching. In other words, I am committed to being a professional in my field of coaching.
Coaching is an unregulated industry at present. Anyone can set up a website and print up cards claiming to be a coach. This may change due to abuse on the part of some who have abused this freedom. A recent lawsuit in Colorado shows how the system is open to fraud. Legitimate coaches are not afraid of being examined because they have taken steps to act as professionals.
I have found coaching to be a very effective way to learn and grow in one’s personal, professional, and spiritual life. Anyone would benefit from working with a coach. If you are beginning the process of finding a coach, however, here are some things to consider.
First, what is the person’s level of training? The International Coach Federation is a globally recognized organization that credentials but does not train coaches. There are also Board Certified Coaches who have achieved specific standards of competence. Training is not mandatory for a person to be a coach but training makes a good coach better. It also attests to the person’s commitment to the profession.
Second, does the person subscribe to a code of ethics? This is part of the requirement for a coach to be in good standing with the International Coach Federation and the organization has just added additional requirements for ethical training as a requirement for renewing one’s certification. A code of ethics reminds one of boundaries and responsibilities.
Third, what is the person’s track record and experience? A person who has been coaching for any period of time will be glad to provide references to potential clients. Of course, they will only do this with the reference’s approval. If a coach has been effective with a previous client, the client is usually happy to provide a recommendation.
Fourth, does the person provide clear guidelines in writing about the coaching agreement including costs, termination, and referrals? A reputable coach wants clarity and makes every effort to head off potential misunderstandings about the relationship.
If you would like to learn more about coaching—either as a client or as a potential coach—please feel free to contact me.