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Why Tony Robbins Can't Pass ICF Coaching 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 suicidal thoughts are a symptom of some mental illnesses.

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 foolhardy 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 program.

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.

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?

Want to learn more about becoming a coach?

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

 

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

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

IAC Master Coach Interview with Kristi Arndt and Julia Stewart

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAC International Association of Coaching

On June 20th, 2013, Kristi Arndt, MMC, former Vice President of the International Association of Coaching, interviewed me for the IAC's Master Coach Interview Series. You need to be a member of the IAC to access their copy of the interview, but you can listen via the online player here for free, to the resulting 49-minute audio. I've listed the topics covered in the time line below, so you can choose the parts you're curious about.

Or, join the IAC virtual chapter for free to get a copy of the interview download link and listen at your convenience. By the way, Kristi will co-host an upcoming IAC chapter meeting with me, in which you'll get a taste of the power of virtual triads to strengthen your coaching and pass IAC Coach Certification.

IAC Master Coach Interview Topics Time Line:

1:00 What I did before becoming a coach

2:00 The Oprah Connection

5:30 The IAC/School of Coaching Mastery Connection

7:15 What does "master coach" mean?

12:00 Coach 100

14:00 What "master coach" means to Kristi

16:30 Why you need to love your coaching clients

17:30 How to get into "master coaching mode"

19:00 How to integrate your shadow

21:00 Master coach certification, as a benchmark

22:30 Tony Robbins' coaching

25:00 ICF vs. IAC coaching

26:00 School of Coaching Mastery coach certification

29:00 How NOT to prepare for coach certification

30:00 What DOES work in passing coach certification

31:30 Live, in person, coach certification

33:30 Coaching pioneers

38:00 How SCM fosters coaching mastery

42:00 How the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm) show up in life

44:30 What's new and exciting

48:00 How to contact me

48:30 Best Coaching Blogs 2013

 

Listen to the full interview below, or use the slider to find the parts you most want to hear:

 More great coaching resources:

Join the IAC North American Virtual Chapter

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, Coach 100, Become a Master Coach, ICF, Coach Certification, IAC Certified Coach, Kristi Arndt, IAC Coaching Masteries, IAC Certification, Coaching Triads, Become a Certified Coach, OPRAH, Tony Robbins, Become a Masterful Coach, Certified Coach Training, certified life coach, IAC

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

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

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.

Get free tools that will help you get life coach certification from the IAC:

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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

Why We're Licensing Our Curriculum for Free to Our Certified Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified CoachSchool of Coaching Mastery has been making lots of upgrades to its programs and this is one more in a series of blog posts so coaches know what we're all about going forward.

We started by announcing the Free Coach Training Program, then we announced why we aren't renewing our IAC License and that we're changing our coach certification.

Part of the whole package of change involves our 'ultimate' students and how they fit into the overall coaching picture. The focus here has always been on training the coach who is destined to become a coaching leader. It's a whole different process than training to just be 'good enough' to coach. 

That might sound a little snooty if you don't know us. Actually, great coaches are simultaneously both confident and pretty  humble.

Anyhow, the point isn't to be 'great' or 'masterful' or 'certified'. The whole point is for every coach and every coaching client to have the life and career they really want. A less idealistic way to say this is we help coaches build coaching businesses that aren't crappy. ;-)

Let's face it, traditionally coaching schools have done a lousy job of preparing new coaches for success in the coaching business. In my own research, I've found that 80% of coaches wish they were more successful. While dissatisfaction is a universal human condition, I think coaches who are prepared best, fare best. And I think coaching schools can prepare coaches better.

Mastering yourself, your skills and your business are the steps that breed coaching success. Then there is what you actually do with all of that mastery.

But I digress...

So why are we giving a license to teach our curriculum to our paid students who become certified by us?

  1. The market has been flooded with coaching schools in the past few years. Some of them are a bit dubious. By empowering Certified Coaches to go out and teach quality coach training to whomever they want, we hope to discourage those who are in it merely for profit. 
  2. Coaching skills aren't just for professional coaches, anymore. Everyone from parents to corporate CEO's are coaching their people and getting great results. Coaches who can teach coaching skills are in high demand.
  3. The days of big for-profit coach training schools are numbered. In the future, coach training will be highly niched or offered by universities and employers. Our Certified Coaches will be among those teaching it.
  4. I won't be teaching forever. I'm looking forward to my students picking up the coaching mantle and taking it places I've never dreamed of.

So there you have it. In addition to good coach training, our students are getting a free license to teach our curriculum, once they pass our certification. Those who need it and want it will also get the Certified Coach Trainer program, which we believe is the first of its kind in the world. And it's no extra cost for our 'ultimate' students.

Oh, by the way, we're also working out a way for coaches to join the Ultimate Coach Training Program without paying us thousands of dollars upfront or going into debt. And no, I'm not talking about 'work-study'.

Stay tuned for more announcements!

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, coaching clients, certified coaches, certified life coach, certified business coach, coach training program, life coach training, certified coach, coach training instructors

Why We're Changing Our Certified Coach Process

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified CoachSchool of Coaching Mastery is undergoing several exciting changes at once, including our Coach Certification process.

It's all to streamline our coach training and certification options, so they are as meaningful and valuable as possible to the coaches we serve.  

One of our biggest concerns is our Coach Certification. It's a dauntingly high hurdle that potentially shuts out thousands of great coaches. That doesn't serve coaches or their clients.


This came to my attention when I was considering whether to renew our IAC Coaching Masteries(tm) license this December. One of the many reasons I'm choosing to not renew our IAC license is that fewer coaches than ever are seeking IAC Coach Certification. Even most of my own students aren't applying for it when we offer to reimburse their fees! SCM's old certification is at approximately the same level as IAC Certification.

Does this mean we're going to lower our standards? No. I think high coaching standards are more important than ever. What School of Coaching Mastery is going to do is offer a 2-step process that recognizes the outstanding value of proficient coaches who get results, while actually raising the bar for master coaches.

Let's bring the fun back into coach certification!

I think there are two main reasons why more coaches aren't pursuing IAC Certification. One is that Thomas Leonard is no longer out there evangelizing it. Thousands of coaches were already fired up to get certified when Thomas passed away. Without him, the excitment has just melted.

The other reason is that IAC certification is harder to achieve. Over the years, especially after the advent of the Coaching Masteries, I noticed that coaching sessions that I would have passed back in 2004-2005, weren't passing any more.

Harder can be better, except when it's not.

Back when we were using the proficiencies, we passed about half of the coaches who applied. Now only 1/4 of all coaches pass IAC Certification on the first try, which suggests that it is now twice as hard to pass. (SCM students pass at the rate of 2/3.)  

As any great coach knows, the perfect goal is one that is difficult, but doable. If we set the bar too high, the client gets overwhelmed and gives up.

It take courage to let other coaches grade your coaching ability. When there is a only pass out of every 4 applications, it's just easier for coaches not to bother - or to opt for rubber-stamp certifications. That doesn't encourage growth in coaching. On the contrary, it discourages it.

I'm not blaming the IAC. I took their lead, but I'm the one who set up the Certified Mastery Coach designation as one huge leap, with no intermediate steps along the way.

Thomas had it right: Inspire coaches with a certification that recognizes great coaching, but don't make it so hard that they don't even apply for it. Otherwise, there's just no point.

I do, however think there's a place for a more advanced certification, because as the coaching profession continues to mature, it's becoming more competitive. As Thomas used to say, the best way to be successful is to master your craft.

 In addition, I think coaching skills, alone, are really not enough of a basis for certification, any more than coach training and coaching hours guarantee effective coaching. We need evidence of great coaching results. That's what clients want and deserve for the high fees that they pay us.

So going forward, SCM will have two certifications available. First, the SCM Certified Coach, who has demonstrated a proficient level of coaching, along with recommendations that speak to the coach's effectiveness. SCM-CC level coaching is  significantly more effective than most coaching and deserves recognition.

And we'll have the Certified Master Coach who has demonstrated masterful skills and results. Our old Certified Mastery Coach designation will be phased out by December, when we drop the IAC license, but coaches who are currently working on it will be able to achieve it by then.

What excited me about the old proficiency-level certification is that it inspired coaches to reach their full potential, rather than settle for what they previously thought was possible.

That's what coaching is all about, right? Helping clients be, do and have much more? Why not a certification process that does that for coaches? That's my intention for our 2 new levels of certification.

As for IAC Certification, I believe our student/coaches will continue to pass it at a reletively high rate even after we stop teaching the IAC Masteries. At least if they apply for it. [UPDATE: SCM DID renew its license to teach the IAC Masteries, afterall. Then we decided to also go for ICF accreditation.]


Applications for the two new SCM Coach Certifications will be available in September. In the meantime, if you're curious, you can

see the basic requirements here.

 

" target="_self">see the requirements for our new certifications here.

Certified Coach

 

If you'd like to be kept updated about upcoming opportunities to get certified by us, go here. And scroll down to the right to fill out a short form.

Topics: certification requirements, IAC Certified Coach, IAC Coaching Masteries, IAC Certification, certified coaches, certified life coach, certified business coach, certified coach

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