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Coach Certification: Should the ICF and IAC Change How They Certify Coaches?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Certification

Coach Certification: The Great Debate

The ongoing debate about coach certification, coaching qualifications, and the profession of coaching was raised again today by Kerryn Griffiths, who runs ReciproCoach (an organization that has formalized the old laissez faire practice of buddy coaching, as a method of gaining practice for coaches) in an article called, "Where is coaching regulation headed?" Her article, which is only available to members of ReciproCoach, offers the rather alarming proposal that currently certified coaches might not be allowed to coach, anymore. While I disagree that this is a legitimate worry, I share some of the questions raised by Kerryn, as well as by the authors of a research paper liberally quoted by her: "From Competencies to Capabilities in the Assessment and Accreditation of Coaches (Bachkirova and Smith, 2015).

The process of certifying coaches based on competencies dates back about 20 years and it has been challenged many times. Does it really measure quality coaching? Do certified coaches really coach any more effectively than those who aren't certified? Which certification process is best? What does the research say?

I've been grading coaching sessions using coaching models invented by me, or by Thomas Leonard, or by the ICF, or IAC for over twelve years. What I can tell you is that none of the models I've used is perfect. They all miss possible approaches to coaching, because coaching is a process created in the moment by coaches and their clients and coaching models are all based on past experience.

Also, the coaching models currently in use by the ICF and IAC are not based on research, mainly because they were created before much research had been done on coaching. However, some recent research supports the skills the IAC and ICF advocate. For instance, asking is indeed usually more useful than telling and asking, "how?" tends to be more useful than asking, "why?".

My main complaints with both ICF and IAC certification models is that they really are both styles of coaching; they do not represent all good coaching. If you sent me two recordings of coaching sessions, one that passed ICF certification and the other that passed the IAC, I'm pretty certain I could tell you which was which. (Come to think of it, please don't send me any coach recordings. I'm busy enough, thanks.)

Also, competency-based coaching (the IAC calls their IP, "masteries", but the certification is still competency-based) has a way of limiting options and it encourages a tendency toward perfectionism in both coaches and certifiers. Perfectionism is fear-based (fear of being found flawed) and leads to constriction, limitation and less innovation; hardly good qualities for coaching.

In my opinion, there are at least a thousand styles of coaching that could be effective with the right clients in the right circumstances and most haven't been invented, yet.

A few years ago, I started telling my students who sat for certification, "Surprise me. I'd love to learn something new from you." And a few of them have, indeed, opened my eyes to new possibilities. Most coach certifications aren't like that.

But research has its limitations, too. Findings are sometimes only valid within a very narrow set of conditions and sometimes researchers miss or confuse what's really going on. In the end, all we ever have is our best guess. That doesn't mean we shouldn't investigate, only that we need to hold our findings lightly.

So is it worthwhile getting certified? I think it is. For one thing, most coaches want to be certified for some great reasons. Plus, if you can shoe-horn yourself into one of these coaching styles, you probably have many coaching tools in your tool belt and you know how to use them. Don't worry if every session you do wouldn't pass. Do remember that these coaching styles represent less than 1% of what may be effective. A few years ago, I suggested Tony Robbins couldn't pass ICF or IAC certification. What's the difference? Here's a brief comparison of ICF and IAC certifications.

New certifications and certifying organizations may come along. They might be better. Bachkirova and Smith offer an interesting model based on capabilities. I'll need to hear it in action before I jump on board. Presumably, they will research it, first.

My personal opinion is that most certifications focus too much on the coach and not enough on the client, where the evidence of success can be observed. Does the client open up to more possibilities, have insights and increased clarity that lead to enthusiasm, growth and solutions, plus action plans, supportive infrastructures and next steps? If clients are revisited days or weeks after the coaching, will certifiers find that they followed through on plans made during coaching and their lives are indeed transformed? If so, who cares how the coach got them there? The ICF and IAC do look at these, but I'm suggesting they mostly look at client outcomes, rather than coaching behaviors. I'm guessing researchers will be looking at both.

When enough research has been done, maybe - this is a BIG maybe - coach certification will be perfected.

In the meantime, the ICF is the main game in town. The IAC offers an alternative, but needs to certify a lot more coaches to stay competitive. I've heard a suggestion that they let their licensees start certifying coaches for them and that may be a great solution. In any case, if coaching is ever regulated in your country, being certified by the ICF or IAC will likely grandfather you in.

Coaching schools, such as School of Coaching Mastery, often offer their own coach certifications.

Are you interested in getting coach certification?

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, IAC, Masteries

Best Life Coach Certifications

Posted by Julia Stewart

Best Life Coach CertificationsWritten by Julia Stewart

If you want to become a life coach (or business coach, executive coach, career coach, etc.), then you need one of the following best life coach certifications (See table, below). They are all "general" coach certifications, meaning they measure the knowledge and skills required for professional coaching, regardless whether you are a life coach, business coach, executive coach, or some other type of coach. Because, as we say in coaching, "All coaching is really life coaching, because everyone has a life." If you have expertise in business, for instance, you can combine that with your coaching skills to become a business coach.

There are hundreds of life coach certifications to choose from. I created the following table to compare and contrast some of the leading coach certifications, and their requirements, to help you avoid getting caught up with the wrong organizations. Watch out for organizations with similar-sounding names that may be disreputable. Some of them are scams. 

You need at least an entry-level (competent) certification, because surveys show that prospective coaching clients prefer coaches with credentials, when given the choice, even if they don't ask about certification. On average, most certified coaches achieve proficient-level certifications. Certified master coaches are relatively few and are considered the "elite". Yes, you can often attract more clients (those who are looking for the best) and charge more for your coaching when you have master-level certifications.

What makes these the best life coach certifications? All the following organizations are highly respected. Some basic differences include:

Best Life Coach Certifications Table resized 600

 

If the above table is too small for you to see, or if you just want to have a copy of it for future reference (recommended), click the button below:

Get the Best Life Coach Certifications PDF

Topics: become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, Become a Master Coach, becoming a certified coach, Become a Certified Coach, life coach certification, Become a Masterful Coach, Certified Coach Training, certified life coach, certified business coach

Life Coach: Why It Doesn't Mean Anything Anymore

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified Life Coach

It's almost impossible to the miss the story about the two 'life coaches' in Brooklyn who committed suicide this week. That story is everywhere, because it's so ironic. The two actually co-hosted a radio show called, The Pursuit of Happiness!

Apparently, they failed to find it.

This post isn't about them. They clearly were in a lot of pain and their passing is tragic.

This post is rather about the subtext of the media frenzy (okay, it's a small frenzy; let's just call it media attention) surrounding this story.

The subtext asks...

  1. How could these life coaches help anyone find happiness, when they were clearly miserable, themselves?
  2. Were these life coaches hypocrites?
  3. Would you want a life coach who is suicidal?
  4. Aren't there any requirements to calling yourself a life coach?
  5. How can you trust anyone who calls him/herself a life coach, when they might be depressed, mentally ill, suicidal, or who knows what?

In answer to number 4: No. There are no legal requirements to calling yourself a life coach. Yet.

That means my dog could be a life coach. She may be more qualified than some human life coaches.

And I'm not just singling out life coaches. Business coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, health coaches. None of these titles means anything. In today's world, everyone, including bill collectors, can and do call themselves coaches.

The guy selling vitamins at the health-food store is a nutrition coach. The woman who works  at the dress shop is a retail coach. The manager at a telemarketing company is a sales coach.

None of these phrases means anything, because they have come to mean whatever anyone wants.

Right now, there is maximum freedom in the coaching industry, because there are no real legal requirements. That allows massive creativity and growth and that's great for coaches. Although the situation appears to be changing and the suicide story may speed up that change.

The real problem these days is for the consumer who doesn't know whom to trust.

The answer, of course, is credentialing and industry oversight, but a lot of 'coaches' are fighting it.

  • They say it's an evil plot by established coaches to keep out the competition
  • They say a piece of paper won't help them coach any better
  • They say it's an effort to control coaches, or to sell them training and certifications

Really?

That first argument is just paranoid. The second is true. Although, I've seen hundreds of coaches learn to coach much better, while on the way to qualifying for a piece of paper. And the last may, or may not be true, but it's not a good enough reason to not get certified.

Life coaches get certified because they want to be the best they can be. Because they are committed to their profession. Because they feel it is the right thing to do. Because they are proud to be certified. They also get certified to distinguish themselves from the worst of the worst.

Consumers look for assurances that they can trust the life coaches they hire. And they deserve some assurance. That assurance often takes the form of a certification.

I got my first coach certification a decade ago and have qualified for several more, since. I've learned something new with each one. I'm not finished.

Although I believe more in learning than I do in credentials, I've noticed that the goal of credentialing is an effective way to stay focused on learning. It has worked for me and for thousands of other good coaches.

I sell training and certifications to coaches mostly because I want to help good coaches distinquish themselves from ineffective or dishonest coaches. It's an honor to work with people who are committed to being their best. Whether you get certified by my organization or some other, get certified.

Certified Life Coach means something. SCM, IAC or ICF Certified Life Coach really means something.

It's time to stop calling yourself just a life coach.

If you want to explore the path to our entry-level certification, click below:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coaching, ICF, Life Coaches, Become a Certified Coach, life coach certification, certified life coach, sales and marketing coaches, Life Coaching, life coach training, IAC

Seven Amazing Life Coach Lessons Learned From Oprah's Lifeclass

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life CoachI became a Life Coach because of Oprah.

Yup, that's how much an influence she's been on my life. I first got fired up to become a coach, while watching Oprah do a series with Life Coach, Cheryl Richardson, twelve years ago. Now I'm training other folks who are equally fired up, to become coaches, themselves. Thank you, Oprah!

Last Monday, I saw Oprah live at the premiere of her Lifeclass Tour. You might wonder why I waited 'til now to go see Oprah live. All I can say is, I won the ticket lottery for the world premiere of her Lifeclass Tour here in St. Louis and boy was I excited! Here's what I took away from this amazing adventure...

LESSON 1: Know When to Break the Rules. Moments before leaving my house in Washington County, I called my friend, Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC, for some last-minute directions to her house, more than an hour away. Joanne, who was accompanying me to Lifeclass, mentioned that the rules said we were supposed to bring small handbags, not gigant-o bags, like the one I was planning to bring (Oprah likes her audience to look great on camera, so wear bright colors and keep your little bag under your seat).

No problem! I have a huge collection of cute little bags and I quickly found one just big enough for my wallet and cell phone. I got to Joanne's house right on time, despite some crazy road construction and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We were psyched to be seeing Oprah in just two more hours and were about to get some lunch on the way when...

Holy Crap! I left our Lifeclass tickets in my big bag at home! (That's life with ADD.) If only...oh God! But it was too late. No tickets, no admission. I called the theater. No dice...

LESSON 2: Set Your Intentions and Act Like Your Hair's On Fire. I called my sister, Becky, and asked her to bring my big bag with the tix and meet us halfway. It was crazy. There was no way we'd get there before the theater closed its doors for the taping, but we went for it.

God bless Becky, she drives like a 5-Alarm Fire Chief even when there's no rush. She met us with the tix. I handed them to Joanne for good keeping and took off to make the hour-and-a-half drive with only an hour and ten minutes left 'til doors closed. Like good coaches, Joanne and I visualized walking through those theater doors with big smiles on our faces and handing our tickets to the ushers. And we made it. With fifteen minutes to spare! Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC(Okay, there was some speeding involved.)

My friend, Career Coach, Joanne Waldman, PCC, in-line with a big smile on her face, just before walking through the front doors of the Peabody Opera House for Oprah's Lifeclass, feeling really relieved to be there on time (and in one piece). =====>

 

And you guessed it! Half the audience was carrying gigant-o handbags (see above pic) and nobody cared. So respect your limitations (mine is distractibility) and adjust the rules to fit you. And if you screw up (which you will), set strong intentions and act on them like your hair's on fire.

Life Coach, Julia Stewart, MCC

 

 

<===== Here's me in the lobby, just before the ushers threw us out, insisting we get to our seats. Yeah, we broke their rule to 'keep moving', so we could nab a couple of pics. After all, we were feeling pretty special for getting there faster than humanly possible.

 

 

 

LESSON 3: Take a Chance on the Unknown. I had the option to enter the lottery for 4 different Lifeclass tapings, each with a different guest. Two were Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins, heroes of mine. One for Iyanla Vanzant, who's great. And one for a guy I never heard of, Bishop T. D. Jakes. I really just wanted to see Oprah, so I took a chance on the new guy and he was absolutely awesome. I won't even try to tell you what he said; you have to SEE him. The show airs Monday, April 9th, 8ET/7CT. Bishop Jakes is all about Finding Your Purpose.

LESSON 4: You're Here for a Reason. That was the key message of the show. You're here at this show for a reason (Joanne and I knew that. We were MEANT to be there, so we had to get there on time). Your life has a purpose and Oprah and Jakes taught us how to find it. Adversity doesn't stop you from achieving your purpose. In fact, Jakes' metaphor for purpose and adversity is an archer: If you're the arrow, and your life is the bow, then the farther the archer (adversity) pulls the arrow (you) back, the farther and stronger you'll go to reach your purpose (Joanne and I had just proven that on the way to the show).

LESSON 5: Your life is a class. I was already familiar with most of the lessons they taught that day. After all, I've been a life-long personal development junkie. Oprah and Jakes just have an incredibly intense and wonderful way of teaching it all. They connect to the audience more profoundly and reach more people, as a result. They are more animated (that's why you have to SEE them). They're more entertaining. After all, they are masters of television. They are stars. But aren't you are star, also? Oprah thinks so.

LESSON 6: It's what happens off-the-record that really inspires. At the end of the show, as we were about to leave our seats, Oprah came back out, not for the television cameras, but just for us. She talked about how her purpose was to use television to help people have better lives. That she was always asking God to use her. And she had focused on how to use the Oprah show to serve her purpose, not have the show use her. And that's her big vision for OWN TV. That she has made mistakes with the network and was digging out of a hole (the papers say she just laid off 20% of her staff). She asked for our help to spread the word, so our culture has at least one television channel that uplifts, instead of just pandering to our lowest common interests.

It was her candidness and vulnerability that spoke most clearly. Here is the biggest star in the world (according to one poll), a profoundly spiritual being who just happens to be a billionaire in kickass diamond earrings. It seems like she has the Midas Touch, but even she can make mistakes...

Hmmm, could it be that adversity will help her arrow soar even farther and stronger?Oprah's Lifeclass Tour

Yep, that little speck center stage is Oprah, from my iPhone in row Z of the orchestra. That's okay, I saw her with my own eyes and heard her message with my own ears. =====>

LESSON 7: Be a Servant Star. Oprah's Lifeclass made me realize that I'd lost track of my purpose, so I can't use School of Coaching Mastery to reach it. I started the school to help carry out Thomas Leonard's purpose to improve coaching worldwide with IAC coach certification. He infected me with his vision ten years ago, but then he passed away, the IAC changed, its certification has changed, the ICF has also changed in some good ways. Now I'm mired in certification requirements...

School of Coaching Mastery has never really been about life coach certification. It's about the mastery coaches achieve on the way to coach certification. But what's the purpose of coaching mastery?

Coaching mastery is about helping people (coaching clients) learn the life lessons they need faster and more deeply, so they can create better lives and reach the highest, fullest expression of their beings. Period.

I've talked for years about the importance for coaches, of becoming Servant Entrepreneurs and I just had the honor of seeing the Ultimate Servant Entrepreneur.

Oprah is a Servant Star. Not because she's about being a star, it's because she's about revealing the star in you and asking you to use it to serve.

How inspiring is that?

In what ways might you already be a Servant Star? How do other Servant Stars light you up? How do you light people up? What do you need in order to use your life to serve your purpose? Do you know what your purpose is? How is adversity sending you even farther and stronger toward your purpose?

Are you ready to step up to Being a Star Who Serves? Please share your thoughts below...

Watch Oprah's Lifeclass Tour on Monday nights at 8PM ET/7PM CT. Watch two hours and call your life coach in the morning...

Topics: life coach, School of Coaching Mastery, become a coach, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Servant Entrepreneurs, IAC Certification, iPhone, OPRAH, life purpose, Cheryl Richardson, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, Julia Stewart, personal development

7 Concerns About the New Board Certified Coach (BCC) Credential

Posted by Julia Stewart

BCC - Board Certified CoachYesterday, I received a letter in the mail congratulating me on my new BCC (Board Certified Coach) credential from CCE (Center for Credentialing and Education).

 

It was nice to get, but no surprise.

CCE, a non-profit which has been certifying a variety of counselors for years, recently stepped into the realm of business, executive and life coach certification, with this very impressive-sounding new credential. But any executive, business or life coach who was previously certified by the ICF or IAC and who could demonstrate that they already have coach-specific training, got grandfathered into the BCC for $100. The only catch was that we had to take a norming exam to help CCE establish appropriate exam questions for future coaches who test for the BCC.

Even though I have reservations about the new BCC life coach certification, I decided to take the plunge and get it for the following reasons:

  • Life coach certifications from independant not-for-profit certifiers are generally the most respected in coaching, because with no regulation, coach training schools (at least the ones that are disreputable) sometimes have very low coach certification requirements (or no requirements other than a fee). 
  • I think competition between not-for-profit certifiers is good for coaches, their clients and the coaching industry, because it forces the certifiers to listen to us and upgrade their services in order to stay relevant. So a new not-for-profit coach certifier may be positive for the profession.
  • At this stage of the game, no single life coach certification organization is the recognized leader, worldwide. The ICF claims this distinction, but most coaches do not agree, especially in fast-growth markets, like Asia. So it may be a good idea to be certified by more than one not-for-profit life-coach certification organization.

That said, I have plenty of reservations about the new Board Certified Coach credential and don't plan to use 'BCC' after my name in most situations - at least not yet. Here's why:

  1. As one of my colleagues, who is certified by both the IAC and ICF, recently commented, a certification from an organization that mainly certifies counselors may further confuse the public about the difference between coaching, therapy and counseling. Appearances to the contrary, business and life coaching are completely different from either counseling or psychotherapy. Coaching is based on different paradigms and does not target clients who are mentally ill or in crisis. A decade or so ago, when I became a coach, the profession of coaching was under attack by psychology professionals, who claimed we were practicing therapy without a license. Then a landmark lawsuit in the state of Colorado established life coaching as a separate profession from psychotherapy.  Furthermore, the reason coaching is still not legally regulated anywhere is because coaches don't work with vulnerable populations. Since that landmark case, therapists and counselors have jumped on the coaching bandwagon in large numbers, because they aren't hamstrung by regulations, they've seen how effective coaching can be and because they can charge more for it. As another coaching colleague commented: The confusion between coaching and therapy isn't because coaches are practicing bad therapy; it's because too many therapists are practicing bad coaching. One of the reasons I decided to get the BCC anyway, is so I can watch from the inside how CCE's influence plays out and can speak up as needed. If CCE does its job well, it could actually cut down on the confusion and erroneous assumptions that counselors and therapists sometimes make when they hang out their Life Coach shingles.
  2. CCE bases the BCC credential solely on college degrees, coach-specific training and passage of a multiple-choice test. Reputable life coach certifications always require demonstration of coaching skills. Why? Because unlike virtually any other profession, including counseling and psychotherapy, efficacy in business and life coaching is not based on expert knowledge, but on the skill of assisting coaching clients to leverage their own knowledge, thoughts, actions, gifts, etc. In other words, coaching is a skill set, not a knowledge base. A degree has little or nothing to do with competency in coaching. Coach training is a very good thing, but doesn't automatically ensure a skilled coach.  And multiple-choice tests measure knowledge, not coaching skills. To get my stamp of approval, CCE needs to add an oral test to their certification requirements.
  3. CCE claims its multiple-choice test is the first scientifically-based measurement of coaching knowledge, but is it really? The 'science' is based on the answers to test questions that coaches who are certified by the 'less scientific' IAC and ICF gave on BCC norming tests. In other words, it's piggy-backing on knowledge collected by thousands of non-science-based coaches and calling that scientific. In any case, one of the reasons coaching has rocketed to the forefront of human development is because coaches have been free to mix findings from neuroscience and positive psychology with ancient wisdom traditions, plus their own insights and intuition, to create new approaches to human growth. Science is good, but results are what matter.
  4. CCE claims to be the first certifier of coaches that is itself 'accredited'. That's good, but it may not mean what you think. Usually, when we talk of accreditation in education, what we're referring to is the 'gold standard' in accreditation, which in the United States (which influences education around the world), means that your educational institution is accredited by a not-for-profit regional accrediting agency that is in turn, approved by the U.S. Department of Education. CCE is not accredited by such an agency. I tried to trace its accreditation back to the USDE, but only got as far back as an agency that accredits engineers (not exactly related to coaching). To my knowledge, no not-for-profit coach certifier, nor educator of coaches, possesses the gold standard in accreditation. That doesn't mean they aren't good, it just means they don't have the ultimate stamp of approval in education. (Beware though, of phony 'associations' that are invented by un-scrupulous 'coaching schools' or more-aptly, certification mills, just so they can claim to be 'accredited' by somebody.) CCE's accreditation doesn't make it a better source of life coach certification. In fact, they may not understand the profession of coaching as well as either the ICF or IAC.
  5. There has been some suggestion (unconfirmed) that the CCE may require its Board Certified Coaches to administer a psychological profile that measures the mental health of new coaching clients, in order to refer them out to psychotherapists. This would be no more appropriate than requiring Certified Financial Planners to test the mental health of their clients (after all, behavioral economics is the latest hot specialty for therapists), or requiring bartenders to test their customers for alcoholism (shouldn't some of those barflies be in rehab?). I know many psychologists believe 90 - 100% of all people are at least neurotic and could benefit from therapy, but coaches aren't in the mental health business, are untrained in the area of diagnosis and in many locations it would actually be illegal for an untrained professional to try to diagnose a mental illness. What coaches are responsible for is helping their clients reach the clients' desired results. If coaching isn't effective in reaching those results and the coach suspects psychotherapy could help, they can best serve their clients by sharing that observation and declining to waste the clients' money by continuing the coaching. But coaches testing for psychopathology? That won't serve coaching clients (but might serve counselors and therapists), because the real test of whether coaching will 'work' for a client is not the client's diagnosis, but whether or not the client is ready to take full responsibility for his/her own life. If it comes between keeping my BCC or succumbing to a requirement to administer  psychological tests, I may give up the credential and I'm sure I'm not alone. But I am so far taking a 'wait and see' attitude towards this.
  6. CCE's ethical standards for BCCs are more appropriate for counselors and therapists than for life coaches. That's not automatically bad, but suggests that CCE itself, is confused about the differences between counseling and coaching. For well-written and appropriate ethical standards for coaches, view the ICF's ethical standards.
  7. The BCC hasn't yet stood the test of time. Thus far, the Board Certified Coach credential is not widely recognized, nor is it the the gold standard in coaching. At this writing, Master Certified Coach credentials from the ICF and IAC share that distinction. For the time being, I would recommend the BCC only as a provisional certification, on the level of the ICF's ACC (Associate Credentialed Coach), that a new coach might want, while they work toward a more recognized coach certification.

What do you think? Share your comments and concerns about the new Board Certified Coach credential in the comments area below.

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Topics: Coaching, executive coaching, certification requirements, Coaches, coaching clients, ICF, coach, Become a Certified Coach, CCE, life coach certification, certified life coach, certified business coach, future of coaching, coach training schools, coaching vs. therapy, Master Certified Coach, BCC, IAC

Life Coach Certification vs. Coaching Certificate: The Difference

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach Certification

[UPDATE 2012: The Free Coach Training program no longer includes a Coaching Certificate.]Coaches often ask me if SCM's Free Coach Training program comes with a life coach certification or if they can use letters after their names when they qualify for the free Coaching Certificate.

The short answer to both questions is: No.

The Free Coach Training program comes with a free exam and if you pass it, we'll award you with a free Coaching Certificate. I'm pretty certain we're the only coaching school that does that, but it's not the same as getting a business or life coach certification from us.

What's the difference between life coach certification and a coaching certificate? Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Life Coach Certification

Coaching Certificate

A stamp of approval of you as a coach, by the organization that certified you

Think of it as an automatic recommendation of you and your coaching skills from a trusted source

You can add appropriate letters after your name

In coaching, certification is THE credential to have; not graduation, not a degree, not a diploma, not a certificate

Respectable life coach certifications all require evidence of coaching skill, not just knowledge

Often difficult to get - that's why they mean so much

You'll received a frameable certificate, plus a mini-certificate for your website to prove your credential to the world

Evidence that you completed some training or passed a test

It's not a recommendation, since the organization doesn't really know you

No letters after your name

Evidence that you're not just self-taught

Evidence that you're working toward becoming a skilled coach

Challenging, but not difficult to get

You'll receive a frameable certificate, plus a generic badge for your website to prove your accomplishment

 

I based the above specifically on School of Coaching Mastery's policies concerning business and life coach certification and coaching certificates.

By the way, today we awarded eight coaches with our new Certified Competent Coach credential. They received it either by passing the requirements of Coaching Groundwork Advanced (Next session starts Tuesday, March 6) or by demonstrating competence in one of our Master Coach Training Levels (Next Master Coach Training startes Wednesday, March 7).

School of Coaching Mastery now has three levels of skill-based business and life coach certification, which are the Certified Competent Coach (CCC), Certified Proficient Coach (CPC) and Certified Master Coach (CMC). They are roughly analogous to the ICF's Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC), Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach (MCC).

Just so you know, 'credentialed' and 'certified' mean the same thing. 'Credential' is used more in Europe, where 'certification' is used in the USA. 'Certificate', however is different. I know, these words all sound alike.

Coincidentally, today the IAC announced in their members-only blog that they will be retroactively awarding  their new Certified Coach (CC) credential to coaches who previously did not pass their old certification, which is now called the Master Certified Coach (MCC), but who did demonstrate a skilled level of coaching (66% or higher score). The new IAC CC credential will be approximately analogous to our CCC and PCC, while the IAC's MCC is roughly analogous to our CMC.

No wonder coaches are confused about life coach certifications with all of these different letters and similar-sounding names! The important thing to remember is that coaching is becoming more professional and that it's a good idea to have a credible life coach certification. A Coaching Certificate is a good start, but keep going.

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Topics: certification requirements, School of Coaching Mastery, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, IAC Certified Coach, Become a Certified Coach, life coach certification, certified life coach, certified business coach, IAC, Coaching Certificate, certified coach

Why Tony Robbins Can't Pass ICF or IAC Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

Tony Robbins Life Coach CertificationThe other day I had a conversation with one of my coaching students about why Anthony Robbins wouldn't pass IAC life coach certification.

On further reflection I realized that he wouldn't pass ICF coach credentialing, either. Why is that? Because he engages in some huge life coaching no-no's. I'll explain in a moment...

Maybe it isn't fair to measure what Tony Robbins does by standardized life-coaching models. After all, he calls himself a 'Strategic Interventionist', not a life coach.

Then again, he does have a coaching page on his website that claims he is the "Father of the Coaching Industry". Hmm, that flies in the face of what tens of thousands of coaches say, that Thomas Leonard is the 'Founder of Professional Coaching'.

For instance, Thomas Leonard founded both the ICF and the IAC. But...

And I'm just guessing here, but this is a really BIG BUT: There are quite a few overlaps between Thomas Leonard's approach to coaching (I studied at both his schools, where I received several coach certifications and I was Lead Certifier for the Thomas Leonard Coaching School) and Tony Robbins' approach, which I've studied informally.

I'm a huge Thomas Leonard fan, BUT...It times out that Leonard may have stolen (ahem, borrowed) many of his ideas from Robbins. I'm just speculating, but Tony Robbins' most popular book, Awaken the Giant Within, in which Robbins calls himself a coach, was based on his work with thousands of people over twenty years and was published in 1991. Thomas Leonard founded his first coaching school (the first life coaching school in the world), Coach University, in 1992, with an awful lot of the very same ideas (though there are some key differences).

Not that I think Tony Robbins invented all of his own ideas. Like many entrepreneurs, he seems to have repackaged, renamed and reorganized ideas that were already out there; some new; some ancient.

A few folks trace these ideas back to Jim Rohn, EST, or Landmark. Others trace their early development to the 19th Century American Transcendentalists. But you can find their roots in the words of Jesus Christ and the Buddha, and in even earlier writings and oral traditions from around the world. (This is one of the many reasons why a degree in psychology or social work, even a PhD, won't make you a life coach.)

But back to Tony Robbins and why he can't pass life coach certification...

REASON #1: Robbins often coaches people who are suicidal. One of the biggest no-no's in coaching is that coaches don't coach people who are mentally ill. And you'd have to be mentally ill to consider suicide, right?

Both the IAC and ICF warn against using coaching as a therapeutic tool. The main reason for this rule is that an unskilled coach could actually harm the client. An additional reason is that the coach may expose him/herself to a lawsuit for practicing psychotherapy without a license.

I would not encourage a coach to coach anyone who is in tremendous psychic pain, but I personally have coached clients who had some big issues. In many cases I required them to see a therapist while they worked with me. But they often told me that coaching helped them more than therapy. For some clients, those who are willing to take responsibility for their issues, the tools of coaching are far more empowering than psychotherapy.

Robbins claims he's never lost anyone. If that's true then maybe his strategic interventions aren't as fool hearty as they would be for some coaches. And maybe he's actually saved thousands of lives. In that case, what he does is courageous and extremely valuable.

REASON #2: Sometimes Robbins does most of the talking. This is one of the basic rules of life coaching: Let the client do most of the talking. But Robbins frequently doesn't follow this rule.

I've seen him coach people when he did almost all of the talking. And it appears to work. Why? He reads body language extraordinarily well and he has a keen understanding of human nature. Isn't that true of other coaches, as well? I think it is, but Robbins has decades more experience than most coaches and he's worked with thousands of people. Most coaches can't scratch the surface of what Robbins  has already accomplished and their skill levels reflect that.

Still, talk too much in a coaching session and both the IAC and ICF will fail you. In most coaching sessions, I think they are right. But there may be exceptions...

REASON #3: Robbins makes rude jokes about his clients, often when they are deeply suffering. As one of my colleagues said, 'I just thought he did that because he was an a**hole!' Apparently he does it because it jolts the client out of a stuck brain state just long enough for him to shift them into a more empowering thought pattern. And it seems to work!

The IAC and ICF both recognize that shifting the client's thinking is an important part of good coaching, but using a sledge hammer to do it? That's a great way to lose the client's trust. In most cases, it's better to respect and empathize with the client, especially when they're struggling. Then again, if you have only a short time to coach someone who is in deep trouble, maybe the gloves need to come off...

REASON #4: Robbins doesn't have any coach-specific training. Actually, this is only a problem for the ICF. The IAC recognizes that there are good coaches who, like Robbins, have thousands of hours of experience and have been learning for decades everything they can about how to facilitate enormous personal growth and development in others, but who may not have attended an ICF approved coach training school.

The ICF on the other hand, recognizes that quality coach training speeds up the coach's development, so s/he can coach competently within a year or so, instead of within ten years, which is what it often takes, for the self-taught. The ICF believes so strongly in coach-specific training that they recently announced that they won't even accept untrained coaches for membership in their organization.

Robbins started his journey as a coach while he was still in high school - long before coach training existed. He not only coached his classmates, he claims he read 750 books and attended every seminar on personal growth that he could afford (sometimes attending the best ones several times, so he could master the material). Then he went on to coach thousands of people for decades.

Tony Robbins exemplifies what Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Outliers: That extreme mastery is the result of about 10,000 hours of experience, rather than the result of extreme talent. Talent is nice, but an obsessive commitment to 'take massive action', as Robbins would say, matters more.

Let's face it, Anthony Robbins really doesn't need life coach certification.

He is famous and his results speak for themselves. He gets away with an awful lot, because his clients already know his reputation and trust him, immensely.

So does life coach certification even matter, when it doesn't recognize the skills that such a well-known master coach uses so successfully? It does, but maybe not for the reasons you would think...

Both IAC and ICF certification processes are more rigorous to achieve than most coaches realize. They virtually force coaches to get thousands of hours of coach training and practice in order to pass. They won't turn you into Tony Robbins, but they will make you a much better coach.

Think of life coach certification as a supportive structure that helps you become the kind of professional coach you'd want to work with.

But take everything certifiers say about coaching with a touch of humor. Because both of these highly-respected certifying organizations miss a wide range of possible master coaching techniques, regardless of what they say about inter-rater reliability. That just means the certifiers agree with each other; it doesn't mean that their criteria include every form of master coaching.

If they fail you, remember, they'd fail Tony, too.

Don't use either passing or failing life coach certification as an excuse to quit your coaching development. Use it as a challenge to keep going and become the kind of coach who can turn around a client's life in minutes.

By the way, Tony Robbins probably is the Father of the Coaching Industry. But Thomas Leonard is the coach who began turning coaching into a profession. Both have made enormously important contributions.

Thomas started the IAC because he was frustrated that ICF life coach certification was leaving out some great coaches. I later started School of Coaching Mastery's coach certification, because I became frustrated that IAC life coach certification is also leaving out some great coaches.

At SCM, we're upfront about life and business coach certification. We don't pretend that we know everything. We don't even pretend to be objective. Life coach certification is never objective. We use three certifiers to grade each session and only two out of the three have to agree that a session passes.

We use a simple numerical grading system, but every certifier is allowed to overturn her own grading and recommend a coach for certification, even if the coach didn't demonstrate all of our master coaching skills. Why?

  • Research shows that when people who are highly knowledgeable in a field (such as coach certifiers), get sufficient information (by listening closely to a coaching session), their 'gut' (a.k.a. intuition) is more reliably accurate than their analytical evaluations.

  • This approach allows certifiers to use the whole brain, just like coaches do, instead of just half the brain, the left side, to quantitatively measure something that is essentially not quantifiable. In short, the certifiers can grade from a coaching brain state, instead of a judgmental brain state. In other words, they think like coaches while they are evaluating coaching.

  • The biggest reason: Because we can override our own grading, this certification allows for coaches who use techniques we're unfamiliar with and who may not use the techniques we're looking for. In short, we most want to certify coaches who can teach us something new.

I'd certify Anthony Robbins.

I've definitely learned some new things from him. And I've seen evidence that what he does is highly effective. I've even learned how to use techniques that Thomas Leonard cautioned against.

What do you think? Do you agree that Tony Robbins wouldn't pass ICF or IAC life coach certification? Or am I totally full of cr*p?

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, certified life coach, Life coaching school accreditation, IAC, certified coach, Coach Certification Bootcamp

How to Keep Your Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach CertificationYesterday my IAC Chapter hosted a call on how to keep IAC Life Coach Certification.

Some coaches are dismayed to find that their life coach certification isn't a 'set it and forget it' deal. But if you read last week's How to Get Life Coach Certification, you know that the two respected certifying organizations are the ICF and the IAC. Both have requirements that you must fulfill in order to keep your credential.

This is typical in any profession and like it or not, life coaching is on the path to professionalism. Major research initiatives are under way to establish a body of knowledge behind the considerable anecdotal evidence that coaching really works.

Professionalism happens in every service offering that succeeds, from medicine, to psychotherapy, to personal training and it's inevitable in coaching.

You can resist, or you can be more curious. The latter is more fun.

Here are the basic requirements by the ICF and IAC in order to keep keep your life coach credentials.

1. Both organizations require you to maintain your memberships. For the ICF, annual membership is $195USD. For the IAC it is $129USD. A professional life coach can easily earn their annual membership fee with one hour of coaching.

2. The ICF requires 40 Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEUs) every three years. A CCEU is defined as 1 hour of direct coach-specific training. Go here to see how you can earn CCEUs.

3. The IAC requires a Learning Agreement (LA) every five years. The LA is flexible. You simply plan your own learning path around the 9 IAC Coaching Masteries(tm). Examples of acceptable LAs:

In short, you can expect to pay fees and do some extra work in order to be perceived as a professional, but you can also attract more clients and higher fees as a credentialed coach.

With some creativity, you can leverage either IAC or ICF requirements to boost your effectiveness and profitability as a coach, while maintaining your life coach certification.

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Topics: certification requirements, ICF, life coach certification, Certified Coach Training, certified coaches, certified life coach, certified business coach, IAC, certified coach

How to Get Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

Tested and Certified

If you’re like most new life coaches, you’ve researched the life coach profession wondering what training and life coach certification you need. You’re smart to wonder about both from the start, to make choices and take action, for critical reasons.

The choices you make at the beginning of your coaching career are analogous to the windup and follow-through of a baseball pitcher. Everything the pitcher does in those short moments determines the direction and velocity of the ball - and whether or not s/he strikes out her opponents.

Professional ball players get extensive training, coaching and practice, since childhood, before they make it to the majors. Life coaching isn’t nearly that structured. As a result, most coaches are inadequately prepared when they try to enter the ‘big leagues’.

Many life coaches think they’ve been coaching for years, but it’s extremely rare for an amateur coach to coach at a professional level. How do I know? I’ve been listening to amateurs and professionals coach for over a decade. The difference is huge. Moreover, it takes time to develop genuine professional skills, usually years.

But there are choices you can make early on that will help you coach like a pro much sooner. The simplest choice, one that will pull you towards success for years, as opposed to getting stuck by trying to figure it all out as you go along, is to decide to get a major life coach certification.

Which life coach certifications are considered best?

The most widely recognized life coach certifications, or credentials, are offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Sixteen years after being founded by Thomas Leonard, the ICF claims, on their LinkedIn Group, nearly 7,000 credentialed coaches in over 70 nations. There are three ICF credentials, ACC, PCC and MCC. All are based on coach-specific training at approved or accredited schools, the number of professional coaching hours, an ethics pledge and perhaps a test; or something called the ‘Portfolio’ approach, for coaches who don’t have coach training.

Another highly-respected life coach certification, which is the one that I have, is the International Association of Coaching’s (IAC) Certified Coach credential. Eight years after being founded by Thomas Leonard (yes, the same man founded both), the IAC lists less than 50 Certified Coaches (correct me, if I’m wrong) on their site. I belief this number was at least double a few years ago. The IAC-CC life coach certification is based on an online test, an ethics pledge and demonstration of what the IAC calls ‘Coaching Mastery’. I’m not sure whether the lack of IAC-CC’s represents the degree of difficulty, a lack of popularity, both, or something else, but this is a highly credible life coach certification.

Why you need to decide on life coach certification now:

Kids who decide they want to be Big League pitchers devote way more of their time to training and practice than those who are just playing for fun. Preparing for a major life coach certification works the same way. It compels you to:

  • Get a substantial amount of life coach training

  • Study what you’re learning and pass all the tests

  • Get a mentor coach for customized assistance

  • Coach a lot of clients

  • Understand and commit to professional coaching ethics

  • Practice, practice, practice

In other words, choosing to become a certified life coach now, puts you on a path similar to the kid who dreams of becoming a professional ball player - and succeeds. It demands much more from you and also offers far more.
Just as baseball players who play in the majors make many times what players in the minors are paid, so too, successful professional coaches make ten times or more what their competitors make.

Several years ago, the ICF published the results of a world-wide coaching study which showed that 10% of coaches who responded to the study reportedly made $100,000 per year or more, while 50% of respondents reported that they made $10,000 or less. In other words, the top 10% made 10 times more than the bottom 50%. In my opinion, that’s like the difference between the majors and the minors.

Why do you need to decide on life coach certification early?

You don’t have to, but it can help you save time and make more money. Most master coaches that I’ve talked to say that the decision to be a high-quality coach put them head and shoulders above the competition early and helped them stay there. Virtually all of them have ICF or IAC coach certification, or both. Working toward a major certification is a framework that simplifies choices and accelerates your progress.

Additionally, demands on your time increase as you establish your business, so trying to go for life coach certification later means you’ll have to take time away from your business, which could cost you clients and money. You may make more money after you’re certified, but you could make less until then.

So how do you get life coach certification?

Visit both the ICF and IAC web sites and read the steps to becoming certified. Choose which coach certification you want and put yourself on the path to getting there. This will include a coaching school that prepares you for the certification of your choice and you’ll probably want a mentor coach who holds that certification, as well.

Can I get a life coach certification from my coaching school?

Yes, but it won’t carry as much weight. Certifications from schools vary widely. Some have rigorous standards; others have no standards at all. Life coach certifications from the ICF and IAC are the industry standard.

What’s the difference between life coach certification or business coach certification?

Neither the ICF nor IAC makes a distinctions between life coach certification and business coach certification. The skills are basically the same. It’s often said that ‘All coaching is life coaching.’ It’s your experience with business that sets you apart as a business coach. Any niche or specialty you choose will likely be based on experience.

To increase School of Coaching Mastery’s students’ options and pathways to the majors, we’re currently working toward ICF accreditation, in addition to our IAC License. We’re already using both the ICF’s Core Coaching Competencies and IAC Coaching Masteries within our Master Coach Training Program. We believe we are the first coaching training school to actively use both.

Click the button below to find out more about life coach certification at School of Coaching Mastery:

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Topics: certification requirements, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Thomas Leonard, Become a Certified Coach, life coach certification, Certified Coach Training, certified coaches, certified life coach, certified business coach, IAC, certified coach

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