Nowadays, it seems almost everyone is an expert or coach on something. With this, it can be quite difficult to separate the high-quality coaches and those simply out there riding the wave. It can be even more challenging to decide which life coach is the right one for you. How then can you identify who to work with and who will help you to achieve your goals?
The first and most important thing to consider is whether coaching is what you are really after. If you wish to access your full potential and hit all the milestones and goals you have set for yourself then coaching may serve you well.
Life coaches differ in many ways. Some of them have professional training and certification while others take up the title since they feel their experience and unique skills qualify them. Both are right. There are many clients who are least concerned about training as long as the coach can add value. You might be one of those clients who want to see the credentials. Personally, I have a life coaching certification, but I do not get hung up on that provided can guide the client to a better life and achieving their wildest dreams.
We will look at the whole process of finding a life coach and show you how to hire a life coach and a few things to consider so as to select the best life coach for you.
Get a Consultation from the Life Coach
Most life coaches offer a free consultation session, which can give you the chance to experience coaching before paying. The consultation also provides a wonderful window for you to learn about the coach, ask questions, and see if they are a good fit for you. The consultation session might last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
Every coach will do the first consultation differently. However, the similarity in all initial consultations is that the coach wants to get to know you as the client. They also wish to understand what you need and find out what the goals you’re trying to achieve. The session will also give you the experience and benefits of coaching from the onset depending on the coach. Use the consultation to clarify anything that you need to know in order to make a good decision.
If you are uncertain about the first coach you try, you may speak to more coaches to find your best match.
The Life Coach Specialties
Different coaches have different specialties. It is important to think critically about which areas of your life you want to change. The type of changes you wish to make and the life you want to create will determine the specialty of the coach you choose. Coaches may specialize in career growth, health and wellness, love and relationships, business growth and general life coaching, as well as many other specialties.
The coach should be able to tell you specifically what they do, how they do it and the methods they use. If they are hyping up their services as a guarantee that you’ll triple your income, marry a supermodel, and make all your dreams come true right away, run away fast. You want clear answers to your questions and realistic projections of the progress you can make. The coach should be clear that you have to do the hard work to change yourself, and that their job is to assist, facilitate, and guide.
You may want to make a list of the things that are important to you in a coach before beginning your search.
Some things to consider:
- Does it matter to you if your coach is male or female?
- Is their age important to you?
- What kind of experiences do they need to have?
- What approaches, methods and techniques do they need to use?
- What character traits, skills, and abilities should they have?
You may not know or be able to predict what your ideal coach will be like before you start looking, so you may want to ask yourself these questions as you find a few possibilities and narrow them down.
The synergy between you and the life coach
A coach should be non-judgmental, yet willing to gently confront you about ways that they see you holding yourself back. They should be a listener, but willing to ask you questions that will trigger insight and help you think of a different perspective. Often, you intuitively know the answer to your own problem, but sometimes it takes someone encouraging you to dig deeper to bring the answer into the light.
A life coach should be someone you can open up to like a dear friend, with whom you can share personal details like a partner, yet is professional and maintains clear boundaries. Look for a coach who communicates in the style that is best for you- whether you’re an auditory or visual learner, your coach should be able to present information in the best way for you to understand.
Look for a coach whose personality doesn’t clash with yours. The first encounter with your coach should make this apparent. Do you frequently interrupt each other or talk over each other because you just can’t seem to get on the same wavelength? Does the coach’s way of speaking make you feel twitchy? Maybe keep searching.
On the other hand, if your conversation feels like sitting with a good friend over a cup of hot chocolate, you may have found the one. At times during coaching sessions, you may feel raw and vulnerable as you confront the painful areas of your life and do the hard work of personal growth. Your relationship with your coach, however, should be a safe place to cast aside your former life and greet the world with a new perspective. So as you’re interviewing coaches, imagine which one of them makes you feel the safest, but who also seems like they will challenge you to grow. Try not to over-analyze this part, but focus on what your gut intuition says.
The Life Coach Certification and Qualifications
Unlike in other fields, the government has not created any legal restrictions on who can use the title Life Coach. To be licensed as a psychotherapist, for instance, you need to meet specific qualifications, but there are no such legal requirements for life coaches.
Numerous coach training programs, educational programs, and licensing organizations aim to regulate and certify coaches. This is done to ensure that life coaching is done both ethically and professionally. Different organizations offer life coach certifications for practicing coaches who meet their requirements, but the industry lacks uniformity in standards and requirements. According to a recent informal survey, less than 20% of listed life coaches actually have any credentials.
A few things to consider:
The majority of life coaches are people who truly love what they do, and they do it well. Most that have a higher education use what they learned in school to increase their ability to help others. And most who are less experienced coaches have educated themselves by reading books, attending conferences, and most importantly, listening to their clients and incorporating their feedback.
So, should you look for someone with lots of education? Someone with lots of experience? Both? The most important thing to look for in a coach is someone with whom you connect and who specializes in the area in which you want to improve. Take into consideration all of the factors we’ve discussed here: the synergy between you and the coach, their specialty, their experience, their character, and their qualifications.
Get a Referral from your network
You know when you get referred to a life coach from a friend, family member, colleague or acquaintance that the recommendation comes from a trusted source. If you were looking for a good plumber or a good restaurant, it would make complete sense to just ask your social network.
Finding a life coach may also follow this age-old model of finding whatever service one wants. Working with a coach referred by your local network may also build your confidence in working with them. You might, however not be very comfortable broadcasting to your network that you’re seeking a life coach. Since life coaching is a relatively new field, most of the people you know will have never used a life coach.
Locally listed Coaching Agencies (online search)
You can look locally for a life coach from registered local coaching agencies. The benefit of this is that you can read the reviews from past clients. You could then schedule a consultation session with the coaches and see who has the right specialty and fits with your personality.
You can also try using an online coaching directory, of which there are dozens to choose from. While these directories do offer a wide range of options (from family coaches to career coaches), the disadvantage is that you might have to sift through hundreds of coaches before you can narrow it down to just a few. This may be very time consuming given that a single directory may have more than 50 listed coaches.
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