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How to Choose a Life Coach

Updated on February 25, 2014

You have failed to reach a goal again. There is a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. “Why? Why can’t I get past these obstacles?” you ask yourself. Out of the pain and disappointment there is still a glimmer of hope. “Maybe I can do this,” you tell yourself, “Maybe if I just had a little help … someone to show me how … a coach.”

Life coaching is a growing professional field in which “coaches” guide individuals towards success in a wide range of fields. The field is growing so fast that finding a life coach is pretty easy. Finding the right life coach though can be a challenge. In this article we will examine 5 questions one should consider before hiring a life coach.

Coaches are great, if truly needed.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

1. Do I really need a life coach?

Life coaching is designed to assist emotionally healthy people who need guidance setting goals or need assistance completing goals. Life coaching covers a wide range of life issues. Coaches can be found who address relationships, finances, careers, physical health, spiritual growth, organization, time management, and much more.

Life coaching is not a substitution for counseling or therapy. Life coaches are not trained to treat mental health disorders. Coaching does not address past trauma or any problem based in one’s past. Coaching is instead focused on what is happening right now that can make an impact on the future.

Life coaching may not be necessary if a good accountability partner can do the job. Sometimes a person has clarity on their goals and their obstacles, they just need to someone to report to and to encourage them with things are difficult. If this is you, a good accountability partner may be more cost-effective than turning to a life coach. The life coach would be happy to take your money though.

Check out the coach's education before making an investment.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

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2. How was the life coach trained?

Life coaching is not regulated by government entities. Anyone can legally call themselves a life coach. There are a variety of privately own organizations who certify life coaches. Anyone can certify anyone else as a life coach.

One of the most respected organizations that certifies life coaches is the International Coach Foundation (ICF). This organization also provides accreditation for life coach certification programs. ICF is respected because it requires, even at its lowest levels of certification, experience actually coaching clients. Additionally certified coach must attend an approved training program. To be approved, the program at a minimum must provide training in eleven core competencies. Certified coaches must also agree to follow their Code of Ethics.

One can also find training programs that can be completed in a single day. The wanna-be life coach can decide at 9 AM that they want to be a life coach and be a life coach by 5 PM. When researching a life coach, check out where they obtained their certification. If a life coach does not have certification, be sure to find out what qualifies them to be a good coach.

Many coaches, including this writer, received their coaching training as part of a counseling degree. Counseling and coaching use many similar skills, but as we saw previously the purpose and direction of the interaction with the client is vastly different.

Options abound. Choose what fits your needs.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

3. What format of coaching works best for me?

Coaching is offered in a variety of formats. Most frequently, coaching is done by telephone, but more and more coaches are offering services face-to-face, through video conferencing, and through email. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages.

While most coaching is one-on-one, group coaching is also offered by some coaches. This tends to be a more affordable option.

Decide what format fits your lifestyle before you start your search. Take into account your comfort level with any technology that will be used. For example, if you are looking to be coached through a pay by the minute chat, you will want to be a fast typist. Also take into account how coaching will impact your schedule. If a coach is local, but driving to their office is inconvenient, it may make more sense to meet by phone.

Shop around. Prices vary significantly.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

4. How much am I willing to pay?

Life coaches are professionals. Often they have studied for years to perfect their craft. They have overhead costs. They can be expensive. Some of the most famous life coaches have bragged that their prices are high to weed out those who are not serious about meeting their goals.

Most life coaches will charge between $50 and $150 per session. For many coaches, a typical session is only 30 minutes. Coaches charging more per hour often offer unlimited email coaching between scheduled sessions. Many will require a commitment of one month or ten sessions with payment upfront. Again this is done to weed out those who are not truly committed to their goals. Be certain to check the details of contract so that you are well aware of what is included in your payment.

Many life coaches offer a free consultation. This is often not a normal session. Instead, this is an attempt by the coach to determine if they can assist you and when you will be starting. Some clients report the complementary session feels like a sales pitch more than a coaching session.

Great guidance that isn't used is worthless.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

5. Am I willing to follow the coach's guidance?

During my high school reunion, I was talking with a former life coach about why he left the field. “People love to listen,” he recalled, “but they hate to do any hard work.” He then rattled off example after example of people who said they wanted to reach certain goals, but did not want to get out of their comfort zones. He found the work had become exhausting when client after client failed to reach their goals. Now he may not have been the best life coach, but he does have a point. Many start coaching with a lot of enthusiasm, but with a false assumption that the life coach is going to make achieving the goal easier. This is not what effective coaching does.

Imagine a basketball coach lowering the basketball hoop during practice so that his players could score more frequently. The coach is not helping his team at all. In fact he is just getting them to aim lower. Likewise a life coach does not make things easier. A good life coach provides the motivation and accountability to turn hard tasks into manageable tasks. Coaching provides the context for identifying obstacles and finding ways around, over, or through them. A coach does not take the obstacles away.

Before hiring a coach, one must ask themselves, if they trust the coach enough to follow through with what the coach suggests, otherwise the coaching would be in vain.

Trust is built a variety of ways, but in the beginning, much of it is personal style. What makes you feel comfortable? Do you need someone who has already walked in your shoes? Is it important that the coach really listen to your desires and passions before they begin to prescribe a plan for moving forward? Do you want someone who will jump in and quickly guide you toward completing goals? Knowing more about what you want from the beginning will assist you in presenting your needs to the coach. The coach can then present a plan that is more likely to be followed, but the coach cannot force you to do the work.

Online videos can give you a sense of a coach's style.

This coach has a completely different style.

Life coaching can be a great investment and make a big difference in your life, if you get just the right coach. Preparation and careful researching can help you find just the right match.




(Please note I am not affiliated with the two coaches presented. Their videos are presented for educational purposes and not as an endorsement.)

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