A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology compared professional life coaching to peer coaching and revealed that life coaching performed by skilled professionals was more effective in increasing environmental mastery, as well as goal commitment and progression.
The right life coach can help you create the life you want, closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Some of the most common reasons people seek the help of a life coach include wanting to:
- Stop ruminating about the past and worrying about the future
- Gain greater self-confidence
- Find and build healthier, stronger relationships
- Stop drifting and find greater focus
But how do you chose a coach when, according to a 2012 study conducted by the International Coach Federation (ICF), there are nearly 16,000 coaches in North America?* With such a large pool of candidates to choose from, finding the right coach can seem overwhelming.
The process of finding the best person for your needs, goals and personality takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth the investment. To narrow down the list and identify the right life coach for you, be sure to ask a few key questions, including:
- What Coaching Credentials, Education and Training Does the Coach Have?
Coaching is currently an unregulated industry, so just about anyone can call themselves a coach. Inquire about their coaching certifications, as these indicate what level of formal, professional training a coach has undergone. But it’s important to note that not all certifications are equal; some require no more than a few weekend workshops, whereas others are much more intensive. And instead of simply asking how many years they have been coaching (they may have coached for 15 years, but only worked with 50 clients during that time), ask about the number of one-on-one coaching hours they have completed.
One of the most respected coaching organizations is the International Coach Federation (ICF), mentioned above, which offers coach training and certification. Anyone credentialed by ICF has completed stringent education and experience requirements and has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence in coaching. The highest credential that can be earned through ICF is Master Certified Coach (MCC), which requires at least 2,500 hours of coaching experience.
- What Coaching Methodology Does the Coach Use?
Skilled coaches will be able to walk you through their process, which should include helping you define your core challenges, take stock of where you’re starting from, and determine where you want to go.
Ask what methodology the coach employs and determine if it is proprietary and robust — in other words, if the coach has taken the time to craft a process based on best practices and techniques versus utilizing off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all coaching methods. Also, inquire about what informed their decision to choose that methodology.
Next, ask about the coach’s philosophy and approach. How will the coach honor your individual needs? What is the coach’s commitment to ethical practices? Listen for what’s important to you — what aligns with your personal values, needs and goals. The coach’s beliefs, principles, objectives and frameworks will lend clues as to what to expect and whether the coach is a good fit for you.
- Does the Coach Have a Background in Human Behavior?
A coach with a background in human behavior — for example, psychology, social work or neuroscience — will be able to delve deeper to identify and help you shift the underlying beliefs, attitudes and perspectives that are limiting your view of what’s possible and not possible in your life.
If you are struggling with deeper issues, such as depression or anxiety, a coach with this training can help you address these core challenges and make much greater progress toward your goals.
- Do I Feel Comfortable?
The most important factor in choosing a coach is a feeling of connection. You will be spending a lot of time with this person and you will likely be discussing intimate details of your life, so finding someone you resonate with and feel comfortable with is paramount.
Consider the following when evaluating your level of comfort with the coach:
- Does the coach understand my concerns?
- Do I feel inspired and motivated after our conversation?
- Do I feel like I have a good rapport with this person?
Hiring a great coach is an investment in yourself. Finding the right life coach takes time and effort, but the rewards can be both transformative and lasting.
*Including coaches specializing in a range of areas such as life and business
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