On this episode of The Soul Expansion Soundboard, Roz, Jordii, and I talked about the factors you should consider when deciding how to choose a life coach. All three of us are spiritual life coaches and we've all had experience with other coaches, so this should be a topic that we have a lot to say about. You can find the replay below.
What is coaching?
Before diving into the various factors to consider in determining how to choose a life coach, it might be helpful to get clear on what coaching is. Also, it's usually a good idea to clarify what coaching isn't, and how coaching compares to other modalities.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as a collaboration and creative process in which the coach and the client partner to discover previously untapped potential. What that means is that coaching is a partnership. I think that's important particularly in spiritual life coaching. People tend to look for spiritual gurus but in the coaching relationship, the coach and the client are peers.
By being curious, asking questions, and guiding the client through various tools, the coach partners with the client to find the answers that the client didn't know they had. It's a collaborative partnership of the coach and client working together. The coach helps support the client in achieving goals that felt out of reach.
Sometimes clients have the misconception that the coach is there to hold them accountable. If a client is struggling to follow through on things, they may believe that it is the coach's job to make sure they do them. Ideally, a coach helps the client find ways to hold themselves accountable. Sometimes just having to tell the coach whether something was completed is enough motivation for the client to see a task through.
Coaching vs. therapy
It might be helpful to point out the difference between coaching and therapy. Coaching may look similar because the session is often spent talking but coaching is very different from therapy. First, coaches are not licensed or trained to diagnose or treat any type of mental illness.
The second difference is that the coach is generally looking forward. Sometimes a client may be experiencing anxiety as a result of negative experience. The coach will focus on how the client wants to move forward from that experience. Therapy is often more focused on exploring the past to discover why the client is experiencing their present issues. Coaching tends to be more present to future focused.
Coaching vs. Consulting
Another modality that is sometimes confused with coaching is consulting. If the goal is to advise someone on what to do or teach them a way to do, it is consulting. The consultant relationship is often more hierarchical with the consultant being seen as more knowledgeable or experienced than the client. Because of that, the client is looking to the consultant to tell them what they need. Coaching, on the other hand, is a peer relationship in which the client knows what they need and works with the coach to achieve it.
Factors for deciding how to choose a life coach
Let's now turn our attention to what factors differentiate a coach from other coaches. These should provide you the most use in deciding how to choose a life coach for yourself.
Training is one area that can vary a great deal. Coaching is largely an unregulated industry with no set training or licensing requirements. However, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is a body that sets both competency and ethical standards for coaches. Coach training programs that meet these standards are ICF accredited training programs.
There are many training programs for coaches. Some are as simple as a self-guided $9 course on Udemy while others are 125-hour ICF accredited coach training programs. You may want to ask a coach that you are interested in working with about the training that they've taken. It can also be helpful to ask a potential coach about any continuing education they've done. ICF certified coaches must complete continuing education to renew their credentials.
Most life coaching schools provide a certification upon completion of their program. You can often tell a life coach who has completed a more rigorous training program because they may mention or display their certifications. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) also issues certifications to coaches.
The ICF certifications are professional certifications that require a number of hours of paid experience to attain. As a result, life coaches often work towards an ICF certification after completing their training and starting to practice coaching professionally. The ICF issues 3 certifications - Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). Each certification requires that the coach be mentored by another coach, complete training, and professionally coach clients for a certain number of hours. The ACC level, for example, requires that they've completed 100 hours of coaching.
The coach's niche or specialty
Another factor to consider in deciding how to choose a life coach is the coach's specialty or niche. Most coaches work with specific issues rather than coaching anyone for anything. You'll want to find a life coach that works with the kinds of problems or goals that you want to achieve through coaching. You wouldn't go to a relationship coach for help with your career!
Resonance with the coach's perspectives
During our conversation on the livestream, Roz raised a great point about checking out a coach through their blog, podcast, or social media. If you want to know how to choose a life coach that you will enjoy working with, Roz suggests reading their blog, listening to their podcast, and following their social media to see if their perspective resonates with you.
I couldn't agree more with this. Many life coaches offer free tools through their websites, speak on podcasts, blog, or show up on social media. Check out the things that they're offering and see if you think they will actually be able to help you. You can also get an idea of the coach's personality this way. A personality that is compatible with your own will be a crucial part of how to choose a life coach.
The coach's pricing
Pricing is another factor to consider in how to choose a life coach. You obviously need to feel good about the price the coach is charging and comfortable with your ability to pay it.
Unfortunately, a lot of coaches do not list their prices upfront. This often prevents people from working with a life coach. No one wants to get on an intro call with a coach and then feel embarrassed when the price is more than they can afford. Some coaches (like myself) are listing their prices on their websites. Pricing for a coach may often be a range of prices based on how often you and your life coach will meet.
When considering affordability of a coach, keep in mind that you're unlikely to reach your goals or breakthrough your blocks in a single session. On average, most clients work with a life coach for 3-6 months although it can be more or less as needed.
Is coaching worthwhile?
To round out our discussion on how to choose a life coach, we discussed the value of coaching. Each of us have worked with our own coaches over the course of starting our coaching businesses. I, personally, have gained a great deal of value from working with a coach.
Often, when I was mired down in some personal block, my coach would ask me a question that might seem obvious to an outside observer. But often, the questions my coach asked had never occurred to me. They often unlocked tremendous insights that I was missing and allowed me to move forward towards my goals.
Coaching can do the same for you. Having someone in your corner cheering you on, supporting you, and asking those obvious questions we often miss is invaluable.