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Here are the Brand New ICF Core Coaching Competencies

Posted by Julia Stewart

New ICF Core Coaching Competencies

 

After over twenty years, the International Coach Federation (ICF) has released a brand-new version of its famous eleven Core Coaching Competencies and now there are only eight!

What did they leave out? Nothing. They actually added! Read on...

Today, the ICF publicly released it's new Core Coaching Competencies after two years of research, from an industrial psychology perspective, into what 1,300 coaches actually do with their clients.

The Competencies, on which the world's most recognized certifications are based (ICF ACC, PCC, and MCC) have guided the coaching of thousands of professional coaches for two decades. Now they have been streamlined and integrated with new material resulting in a shorter list that's packed with information.

When will the ICF begin certifying with the new Competencies?

Not before 2021 when ICF accredited coaching schools are required to include the new Competencies in their curricula instead of the old.

What do the ICF's new Competencies mean for coaches who want to get certified?

  • If you expect to apply for ICF certification by the end of 2020, you may want to stick with the old Competencies, although you may learn some useful nuances from the new Competencies that may assist you in passing ICF's rigorous certification process.
  • If you're planning to apply for ICF certification in 2021 or later, begin learning about the new ICF Competencies now. When you join an ICF accredited training program, be sure to ask whether they are teaching the new or old Competencies. This coach training program will begin translating the old Competencies into the new starting today for our current students and will begin training exclusively with the new Competencies in 2020.

Here's a handy table that will help you start translating the old Competencies into the new.

New ICF Core Coaching Competencies Old ICF Core Coaching Competencies
1.Demonstrates Ethical Practice - Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching 1. Ethics and Standards
2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset - Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered BRAND NEW
3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements - Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching
engagement as well as those for each coaching session
2. Establishes the Coaching Agreement
4. Cultivates Trust and Safety - Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust 3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client
5. Maintains Presence - Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded
and confident
4. Coaching Presence
6. Listens Actively - Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being
communicated in the context of the client systems and to support client self-expression
5. Active Listening
7. Evokes Awareness - Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful
questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy

6. Powerful Questioning

7. Direct Communication

8. Creating Awareness

8. Facilitates Client Growth - Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.

9. Designing Actions

10. Planning and Goal Setting

11. Managing Progress and Accountability

 

Download this competency table for free here.

 

Learn much more about the new Competencies...

 

Get instant access to the FREE webinar video here:

 

Watch this ICF Coaching Competency Webinar Video

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Competencies

How Much Does Life Coach Training Cost?

Posted by Julia Stewart

How much does life coach training costTo become a credible life coach requires training and certification. But how much will all that cost you?

It depends. Answer a few quick questions to get an accurate answer:

  • Is coaching just a hobby or do you want a successful career with it?
  • Do you want to work for yourself or for someone else?
  • How soon do you want to start your coaching career?
  • Are you willing to travel for your training or does it need to fit your current lifestyle?
  • Are you more interested in a degree or a career?
  • Do you want to get certified? (Hint: certification can help your coaching career)

Coach training costs depend on several factors:

  • You'll probably need more training if you want a successful career than if you're just coaching for a hobby.
  • Likewise, if you work for yourself, you may need more training than if you are employed by an organization.
  • Some trainings take years; others take a few weeks. Many encourage you to coach while you train.
  • Travel costs add up quickly. Online training is usually more convenient and cost effective. Consider travel, lodging, and meals if you need to travel for your training.
  • Coach training schools will help you start your career, while graduate programs will earn you a degree.
  • Certification is the preferred credential in coaching, and certification from an independent organization is preferred over certifications issued by your school. Look for schools that are accredited/approved by independent certifiers.

Here's what you can expect to pay for life coach training:

  • You can get short trainings for under $1000.
  • Professional coach training runs between $3000 and $10000, depending on how many hours are involved.
  • Accredited/approved training programs often cost more. If you want a particular certification, such as ICF, IAC, or IAPPC, be sure your training hours qualify. The above organizations each have three levels of certification and may require more training for higher certifications.
  • Graduate programs usually cost more than $10000, sometimes a lot more.

How can you pay for life coach training?

  • Many coach training programs have payment plans.
  • Some coaches apply for a credit card with zero interest for the first year and pay with that credit card.
  • Some coaches get a part-time job and pay with the income they earn.
  • Some coaches keep their full-time job while they train.
  • Some coaches dip into savings.
  • Some coaches pay off their training with their income from coaching.
  • Some coaches downsize their expenses until their coaching careers take off.
  • Some employers will pay for coach training.
  • Many coaches use a combination of strategies to pay for coach training.

 

Learn the secrets of becoming a coach, how to choose the right coach training for you, and getting certification with this free eBook:

 

Get Your Free 'Become a Coach' eBook Now

Topics: life coach, ICF, Coach Certification, life coach certification, life coach training, IAC, online coach training, questions, free ebook, IAPPC

Establishing the Coaching Agreement: Here's How to Do It Well

Posted by Julia Stewart

Establishing the Coaching Agreement - two men

According to the ICF, one of the most important, if not THE most important Coaching Competency is #2: Establishing the Coaching Agreement.

The ICF is very particular about how to coach with this one perhaps because it sets the structure for the entire session. Most coaches can do it well at the ACC level, but stumble over PCC requirements, which are multifaceted and quite explicit. At the MCC level, it is far deeper and more subtle. Why is this hard? Most coaches just don't know how to do it.

[UPDATE, 10-10-19: The ICF just announced a new coaching competency model to owners of ICF-accredited coach training programs like the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. They have asked us not to share the new module until they have released it to their entire membership in November. It appears the following skills will still be appropriate under the new model. If I discover otherwise, I will update this again.]

What follows are Do's and Don't's on how to Establish the Coaching Agreement at the ACC, PPC, and MCC levels.

ACC: At the ACC level, Establishing the Coaching Agreement is easy and straightforward, but you might be surprised how many coaches miss it. Do: Ask the client, at the beginning of the session, what they want to achieve with the session. Don't: Choose the goal for the client, or neglect to ask the client what their goal is, or ask but coach on something else.

PCC: At the PCC level, you need to go considerably further with Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Do: At the start of the session, ask what the goal for the session is, then explore a bit what makes that goal important to the client. Also ask how they will know they have achieved the goal. This is sometimes referred to as the "measure of success", which can be a feeling, such as confidence, a mind state, such as clarity, or something tangible, like a ten-point plan. Then begin coaching the client to reach that goal. Later in the session, check to make sure you're on track to reach the goal, or if you notice the conversation is heading in a new direction, ask if the goal has changed. If it has changed, fully establish the new goal. Finally, near the end of your coaching session, ask the client if they've reached their measure of success. If they reply strongly in the affirmative, the coaching was successful. Don't: Forget to ask how the client will know they've succeeded or fail to explore the importance of the goal, or fail to check that the session is reaching or has reached the goal; nor should you make any mistakes from the ACC level, above.

MCC: Do: The MCC level coach does everything the PCC level coach does, and then some, but may do it in a far more subtle fashion, knowing that competency #3: Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client, #4: Coaching Presence, as well as every other competency, will enhance Establishing the Coaching Agreement, by creating trust, easing the client, and providing an environment in which the client shares honestly and completely. Without that level of openness and receptivity, the client is unlikely to share information that feels vulnerable (sharing our most cherished dreams tends to bring up vulnerabilities) and therefore they may not receive full value from the coaching. In addition, the master coach will help the client expand their thinking about the goal by helping the client connect it with their larger goals and/or integrate their understanding of it within the context of their entire life and even beyond, as needed (#8: Creating Awareness). What makes this difficult is, in addition to having mastered all the competencies, having heightened perceptiveness, and knowing how to communicate a lot with few words, the master coach must also be able to hold a holistic and intuitive mind state simultaneously with linear step-wise consciousness. This is easy if they have an advanced contemplative practice. Otherwise, it tends to take years of coaching to develop. Don't: Make assumptions, or lead, direct, or teach the client in any way. Without a fully connected partnership that honors the client's expertise in their own life, coach and client are unlikely to achieve the client's most desired dreams.

So now you know how, at all three levels, to coach with one of the most important ICF Coaching Competencies. This understanding. especially at the PCC and MCC levels, can help you become a far more effective coach. You still need to learn how this tool applies uniquely to each coaching session. Plus you need hours of practice and expert feedback to learn to do it well. Our Master Coach Training series of modules will help you develop masterful coaching skills, and get you ready to apply for ICF certification, if that is your goal. These modules are all included in our Certified Positive Psychology Coach program and our Certified Neuroscience Coach program. Plus, two more modules, included in the Certified Neuroscience Coach program, will help: NP1: The Science of Goals and Achievement and NP2: Neuroscience Tools and Practices.

 

Download the Certified Neuroscience Coach program Fact Sheet:

Visit the Certified Neuroscience Coach Page Here

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, coach credential, certified neuroscience coach, PCC

Top Ten Myths About Life Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

dragons and castle

Myths are stories we tell that help us understand our world.

That's why we love them so much. Epic stories like Game or Thrones and Lord of the Ring capture our minds during our adolescence but never quite let us go. At their best, myths can for instance, make sense of the destructive behavior of a  leader who feels betrayed and alone (I'm thinking of you, Daenerys) and they may also help us understand real-life situations.

But there is another type of myth that makes us feel like we understand something new when we really don't and those myths spread like viruses to others who also don't get it. They become "truth-y" even when they truly are false. This is particularly true as our culture evolves because some folks evolve faster than others. Myths can keep those others stuck on the outside of something truly great, believing cynically that it's just a sham, or a fad, or the same old thing wearing a fancy new dress.

There are plenty of myths about life coaching because honestly, if you haven't experienced truly great coaching, you won't get it. You just won't. See below for examples. 

 

Here are Top Ten Life Coaching Myths:

 

  1. Coaching is a new form of therapy or counseling. When I first became a coach about a billion years ago, one of my relatives, who was studying to become a psychotherapist, told me I was practicing therapy without a license. Um, no. In fact, a landmark case was won at about that time which established coaching as a separate profession from therapy. After that, therapists seemed to take an, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," attitude toward coaching and today, many coaches are former therapists who love helping clients go from good to great and are thrilled to not have to deal with insurance companies to get paid. Even my relative eventually commended me on getting into coaching after it became the fastest growing job description worldwide. Good thing I didn't listen to her earlier criticisms!
  2. Coaching isn't a real profession. This was probably true thirty years ago, just as it was of every profession in its earliest days. Remember when your doctor used to "bleed" you with leeches? No? Probably that's because they stopped doing that more than a century ago. Thank God! My point is that all professions develop over time. They begin with a few talented practitioners. Then someone defines what they do and begins teaching it to others. Eventually professional organizations standardize ethical practices and identify credentials. Researchers begin studying the field's efficacy (that finally doomed the use of leeches by physicians). Then universities start developing educational programs. All of this has occurred within the field of coaching. It is now a profession.
  3. Coaching is New Age mumbo-jumbo. As coaching progresses as a profession, research is establishing many coaching practices (some of which were originally dismissed by "experts") as valid. In fact, the practice of focusing mostly on the positive (not 100% positive, just 75 - 95% positive), as well as focusing mostly on the present and desired future, have been well-established as important tools for transforming problems into opportunities and suffering into wisdom. Many therapists have also adopted these tools. Meanwhile, whatever may have been mumbo-jumbo (the coaching equivalent of bloodletting with leeches) is quietly being jettisoned.
  4. Anything goes in coaching. Coaching is a profession that is not regulated by governments. This confuses some people. They think they can do anything and call it coaching. Fortunately, there are reputable organizations that have established ethical guidelines and best practices in coaching. Work with coaches who are aligned with one of these organizations to avoid getting schnookered by people who call themselves coaches but whose practices may not always be effective, fair, or ethical.
  5. You don't need training to become a coach. This depends on whether you want to succeed as a coach. The ICF has been surveying thousands of coaches for years. Their findings are that coaches who've had coach-specific training are more successful more quickly and are less likely to drop out of the profession. So while you could call yourself a coach, even if you have no training, if you want to be a successful coach, get quality training early. It's an excellent investment.
  6. If you have a degree in psychology you're qualified to coach. Oh would that this were true! I know your university degree cost you a fortune so it must be good for something, right? I was like you once. I had two degrees in dance, of all things, from two of the most expensive universities in America. That got me a career as an adjunct professor at a variety of colleges until my back gave out. Luckily, I discovered my true calling was coaching. There were no degrees in coaching, at the time, so I spent a few thousand dollars at a good coach-training school (two, actually) and I've been using what I learned there ever since. Best investment I ever made. If you have a degree from an ICF-accredited coach-training university program, you may not need further training, but most degrees in psychology or social work won't qualify.
  7. Clients don't care if you're certified. Mine do! And apparently most other clients do, too. The ICF surveyed actual coaching clients and asked, all else being equal, would they prefer to work with a certified coach? 84% of coaching clients replied that they care very much if their coach is certified.
  8. All coaches are slimy. Well some people who call themselves coaches may be. Perhaps they aren't trained, or aren't certified, or aren't ethical. Because coaching isn't regulated, you do need to be choosy about who you work with. If you're working with a real coach, they probably are anything but slimy.
  9. Coaches have all the answers. Some folks think coaches have perfect lives and know everything. News flash: nobody fits that description. Coaches are skilled at asking important questions clients usually don't ask themselves. They are experts at change and customize every conversation. Coaches are just super-good at bringing valuable answers to light. That's transformative.
  10. Coaching is only for rich people. Coaching caught on first with high-level executive clients, movie stars, and billionaires. But as the profession grows, there are great coaches who specialize in clients from every walk of life. If you're interested in hiring a coach, shop around to find one who is right for you. Coaching is for everyone (and that's no myth)!

Myths spread in the ancient and medieval worlds because often too little information was available. Today, we have the same problem for the opposite reason: There is too much information and we cannot tell which is true.

As a coach, it's part of your job to spread the truth about coaching. Because coaching is an evolved technology that can help people successfully navigate hypercomplexity despite climate disasters. We live in a scary world but fear makes us think small and small thinking is destructive instead of resourceful. Effective coaching can be the difference between success and disaster.

 

What if Daenerys had a good coach?

 

Need a good coach? Find yours here:

 

Find Your Coach Here

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, coaching vs. therapy, Life Coaching, coach training school, coaching ethics

Which Coach Certification Will Make You Successful?

Posted by Julia Stewart

coach certification stamp

Which coaches are most successful?

In a recent article, Seth Godin, the guru of marketing, pointed out that the top 5% of businesses do very well. He also mentioned that everyone would like to be number one, but mathematically, not everyone will be number one, which is okay because the top 5% is where you need to be. This applies to coaching, too.

How do you get into the top 5% of coaches?

There are many pathways to success in coaching. One is to increase the quality of you customer service. Another is to increase the quality of your coaching. Both will help you become "remarkable". In other words, your happy clients will rave about you and that brings more happy clients. Experience, training, education, and certification will also help you do well. Of these, certification tends to be most important in coaching.

Do you need to be certified to succeed as a coach?

No one certification, by itself, will be enough for you succeed to as a coach. And there are still some coaches who claim you don't need any certification, at all. This used to be true back when few working coaches were certified and it may still be true depending on who your clients are. If you coach mostly entrepreneurs, they may not care if you're certified. But if you want to qualify for lucrative coaching contracts in large organizations, you will most certainly need a recognized certification.

What certification will help you succeed as a coach?

By far, the most recognized coach certifications are those of the ICF. They have three levels and the highest, their MCC, is only held by 4% of the coaches they have credentialed. This might suggest that you need the MCC to succeed, but that's not true. Many coaches are still uncertified and we have to count them, too. Still fewer coaches are certified by the ICF, only about 25,000, as of this writing, out of the 50,000-60,000 professional coaches, worldwide. We can estimate that 2,500-3,000 coaches are in the top 5%, many more than are MCCs. So I would suggest the next level down, the ICF PCC, is the one you want to shoot for. In my experience, those are the coaches who are succeeding.

Will the ICF PCC guarantee coaching success?

No. As stated earlier, no one factor contributes to coaching success, but certifications do matter and entry-level certifications sometimes aren't enough. When you choose your coach training path, look for trainings that are accredited for at least enough hours to qualify for the PCC. You may want to shoot for the stars and get MCC-level training, as well.

Where can you find coach trainings that are accredited for PCC and MCC credentialing?

The ICF has listings for many trainings that meet the requirements for PCC certification (125 hours) and MCC certification (200 hours). The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program was the first positive psychology coach training program accredited by the ICF for 125 hours and later became the only one accredited for 200 hours. We are still the only positive psychology coach training, other than university training programs that are much longer and more expensive, that is accredited for 200 hours. If you're looking for evidence-based coach training, one of the fastest growing areas in coaching today, check out our program.

 

Get this Fact Sheet and Start ICF Coach Credential

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, PCC

Why the New ICF Requirements for the MCC Credential Matter

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Certification

An important deadline looms for any coach who wants to achieve the coveted ICF MCC credential.

As the owner of a coach training program that meets the requirements for Master Certified Coach (MCC) level training (namely, the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program), I received an email today from the ICF, the world's best-known certifier of coaches, about an upcoming deadline for MCC applicants.

This is one of several changes in certification requirements that the ICF has made based on data collected from past applications, such as the requirement that all applicants complete comprehensive coach training that progresses from beginner to advanced skills, rather than piecing together a course here and a course there, because graduates of progressive training programs are more likely to succeed in achieving their ICF certifications.

The next deadline is for coaches who want to apply for the MCC without first achieving the mid-level PCC credential.

After February 28, 2019, Noon Eastern/New York Time, you must already have the ICF's Professional Certified Coach (PCC) before you can submit your application for the MCC. Again, this is based on the ICF's own data, which found that PCCs were much more likely to succeed at passing the MCC requirements than non-ICF certified coaches. I have been told by an ICF Mentor Coach (but have not personally verified) that up until now, only 7% of applicants for the MCC have passed. Evidently most of those who did not pass did not yet have the PCC.

Here's a story that illustrates why these changes matter so much:

The following is true, but I've obscured some details to hide the identity of the individual... I received a phone call recently from someone who had been employed for three decades as a coach at the headquarters of a large financial corporation when the building they worked in was destroyed in a major disaster. Rather than relocating all the employees whose offices no longer existed, the corporation chose to lay off all of them. Despite thirty years of experience and an advanced degree in psychology from an ivy league school, this individual found they were unemployable as a coach, because in thirty years, the landscape of professional coaching had changed and virtually all large organizations now require recognized certifications for their coaching hires.

This person was interested in taking the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and qualifying for the MCC as quickly as possible and they were hoping to avoid beginner-level courses. I had to tell them they probably wouldn't have time to get the MCC without applying for their PCC, first, because they would also need to clock 2,500 hours of coaching AFTER they commenced training to qualify for the MCC. The ICF requires this because many people who coach without adequate training aren't really coaching. The individual said something telling at the end of our phone call: "Thanks for the great coaching."

I didn't coach them; I gave them advice.

Their confusion over the nature of our conversation helped confirm for me the wisdom of the ICF's requirements even though they might seem overly restrictive. Sometimes what people call coaching isn't really coaching and that's why the ICF won't certify them based on degrees and experience, alone. They also need coach-specific training.

In short, certification is more important in coaching than a degree and comprehensive coach training is a must for the best-known certifications.

The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program was the first comprehensive positive psychology coach training program to meet the training requirements for MCC-level credentialing. It also meets requirements of the entry-level ACC and mid-level PCC. Currently, the only other positive psychology coach trainings approved at the MCC-level are graduate-level university degrees, which take longer to pass and cost quite a bit more. Coaches who want advanced skills and successful careers choose our program because they're uninterested in graduate degrees, either because they already have them, or because they know their clients are uninterested in them.

Another trend in coaching is the turn toward evidence-based coaching, such as positive psychology coaching.

There are many other shorter positive psychology coach training programs, but based on our data, coaches who coach at least at the PCC level tend to be more successful, professionally. We also assist our students in building their careers.

Get training that prepares you for today's coaching market.

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology coaching, certification, and training, click below and download a free ebook, fact sheet, or list of graduation requirements. We're here to help you succeed!

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coach training

People Are Terrible at Assessing Their Own Weaknesses. Here's What Works

Posted by Julia Stewart

Strengths vs weaknesses - photo by ashley nicastro

According to scientists, people, including coaches, are generally terrible at assessing their own skills for two reasons.

1. We don't know what we don't know. This is also known as Unconscious Incompetence, a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect. A recent article in Smarter Living in the New York Times says about it:

"The effect creates a vicious loop that boils down to this: The less skilled you are at something, the less likely you are to recognize how unskilled you truly are, and thus you overestimate how your abilities. Worse still, because you can't see your errors, you'll never know what you need to correct."

2. We don't know what we do know. This is sometimes known as Unconscious Competence, a.k.a. Imposter Syndrome or the Fraud Factor. Sometimes we have an abundance of strengths, but don't know it.

Both these issues are common among newer coaches and sometimes even veteran coaches.

Sometimes coaches who have little or no training aren't as skilled as they think, or may be skilled in only a few tools that a coach would use, or may be advising or consulting instead of coaching. For example, I recently had a conversation with a coach who's been an "internal coach" for major corporations for decades. She has a masters degree in counseling, and even an ivy-league background, but recently discovered that she can no longer get hired without coach certification. She called me for advice and I gave her some. But at the end of the conversation, she said something telling. She said, "Thanks for the coaching." I didn't coach her. Advising isn't considered coaching in today's world. Coaches have more powerful tools. That's one of the reasons organizations require proof of certification, now.

On the flip side, some highly skilled coaches don't realize how extraordinary they really are. They generally assume others can coach as well or better than they can. They literally need someone to tell them what they are doing well in order to own their mastery. Owning it can help strengthen it.

Mastery happens when you've practiced your skills to the point they are second nature to you. You can call on them without thinking about it. They have become implicit, rather then explicit, or "Unconscious Competence."

Here's the Mastery Matrix:

Matrix of Mastery

What are the solutions to reaching competence and even mastery?

There are three. One is learning. Work with people who are ahead of you on the path. In coaching, that would be qualified coach trainers and mentor coaches. The second is a tool used by all effective trainers and mentors to help their coaches strengthen both their strengths and their weaknesses: Feedback. The third is time. If you're getting effective training and feedback, all you need is time spent practicing what you've learned and applying your feedback and you will progress.

Getting feedback from clients is helpful, but usually incomplete. Getting feedback from fellow students may fill in some of the gaps left by clients, but may not cover everything. Getting feedback from experts helps fill in all the gaps. Best of all, get all three types of feedback, if you can.

Without any training or feedback, even people who've been calling themselves coaches for decades may not realize they haven't developed all the skills of coaching, or perhaps they are truly masterful, but don't know it, and neither do those who would otherwise hire them.

Don't lose even one client because you aren't a certified coach.

Get on the path to mastery with evidence-based coaching skills and get certified:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

     
     

Topics: Coach Certification, masterful coaches, certified coach, Strengths

What's the Difference Between a Professional Coach and an Entrepreneurial Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Professional_vs_Entrepreneurial_Coach.jpg

What's the difference between a professional coach and an entrepreneurial coach and why does it matter?

I recently received a couple of emails from someone on my mailing list who asked questions such as these. He took issue with a lead-nurturing (a type of marketing) email he received from us in which I frankly advise new coaches to get good coach training and reputable coach certification.

The writer identified himself as an entrepreneur, who offers coaching as one of his services, so I answered him in language I thought he would understand:

I said we were very clear who our ideal student is and he probably wouldn't resonate with our messages, since they are targeted at people who want to become professional coaches, rather than entrepreneurial coaches. I wasn't interested in arguing the relative merits of professionals vs. entrepreneurs, so I neglected to add that I have a strong bias toward professional coaches, for whom training and certification are a must, as opposed to entrepreneurial coaches who generally rely their reputations, experience, and instincts, to coach. That, by the way, is why I started a coach training school that certifies coaches.

A coach used to be considered half professional and half entrepreneur, 15-to-20 years ago, and the Founder of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, was a perfect example. He started multiple coaching schools and professional organizations, in his lifetime, but was a classic entrepreneur who embodied the creativity, drive, productivity, and ongoing dialogue with his customers, that entrepreneurs are known for. That said, his major contribution to coaching was the turn toward professionalism and he embodied a stellar reputation for integrity, ethics, quality, and service that went way beyond profits.

The two photos above show, on the left, a professional coach who displays an openness and willingness to serve clients. On the right, shows an entrepreneur who's burning with his vision for designing a successful business. Both may be useful to coach with depending on what you want to work on. Neither is automatically better, but the professional coach is more thoroughly defined and has qualities that can be more easily recognized and evaluated.

Since Thomas' death in 2003, a leadership vacuum opened up. Much of it was filled by entrepreneurs who were focused more on marketing and sales gimmicks that drive profitability, than on helping clients grow and reach their goals. There are still a few good entrepreneurial coaches, but unfortunately they are increasingly outnumbered by scam artists and well-meaning wannabe's who may give bad advice.

I've known quite a few people whose lives have been transformed for the better by working with professional coaches. I also have known a handful of people whose lives have been ruined by entrepreneurial coaches. That doesn't mean all professional coaches are great, or that all entrepreneurial coaches are bad. Sometimes the opposite is true. It just isn't that simple, but over the years, I've moved away from the "half-professional/half-entrepreneurial" approach to coaching in favor of primarily being a professional and I advise my students to do the same, because it appears increasingly that professional coaches tend to deliver better results for clients and professional coaching is also a better model for coaching success. 

I've been clarifying the distinction between professional coaches and entrepreneurs with my Coach 100 students for over a decade and realized that it could be helpful to many of our blog readers too, so here goes.

Pro_coach_vs_entre_coach_table.jpg

Whether you are a professional coach or entrepreneurial coach isn't really an either/or choice; it's both/and. Because coaching is still not regulated, so there is tremendous freedom for practitioners. But at the same time, it's the professional side of coaching that is driving much of coaching's positive reputation.

If you're looking for a coach, you may want to use the above table to determine how professional your potential coach is. You have a bit more knowledge and power, because professional organizations define what you can expect. Also, if your coach is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), you can file a complaint against a coach-member who fails to uphold the ICF's Code of Ethics.

Remember that lead-nurturing email from above, that advises good training and certification?

Recent research by the ICF found that coaches who get good training are more successful and less likely to quit the profession, while coaching clients say, all else being equal, they prefer to work with certified coaches. If you're new to coaching, my advice is that you get both coach training and certification to increase your confidence and success.

Get Coach Training and Certification

Topics: professional coach, professional coaching, coach training, Coach 100, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, certified coaches, coaching ethics

4 Reasons You Should Get ICF ACSTH Coach Training, Not ACTP

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF ACSTH coach training programSometimes people ask me why the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is an ICF ACSTH* program instead of an ACTP**. Savvy coaches know they need training that has the ICF's stamp of approval. Both ACSTH and ACTP designations mean the coach training program has gone through rigorous requirements to be approved by the ICF (International Coach Federation), which is the best-known professional coaching organization that approves coach training programs. But what's the difference and why is ACSTH better for the coaches who study with us?

Four Major Reasons ACSTH is Better for Our Coaches:

  1. You don't have to wait to get your certifications. When you take an ACTP program, you have to complete the entire program, which may take a couple of years, before you apply for ICF certification and sometimes you can't even get your school's certification until then. With the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which has a total of 210 ACSTH credits (125 for Part 1; 85 for Part 2), you get a certification or certificate of approval, with ICF credits, after every module you complete along the way. You could be certified by us in just 8 weeks! Or, apply for your ICF ACC after earning just 60 hours with us. You're in the driver's seat. Choose what works best for you.
  2. You don't have to pay for an ICF Mentor Coach if you don't want one. ACTP programs are required to provide students with ICF mentor coaches, which means everybody has to pay the coach training school for their mentor coach and that makes tuition awfully expensive. But what if you don't care about ICF certification? Most life coaches don't need ICF coach certification, so why should they be required to pay for a mentor coach to qualify for a certification they don't need or want?
  3. You can choose your own mentor coach. You definitely should have your own coach and you should choose that coach carefully. Not every coach is a good fit for every client, so why would you want one assigned to you by your coaching school? When you take an ACSTH program, you can choose your own coach and we can help you find one that is affordable.
  4. You can customize your training to fit your exact preferences. Some new coaches just take Part 1: Intro Level of the CPPC program, while others want both parts. Some advanced coaches just want Part 2: Master Level. About a quarter of our students already have ICF-approved coach-specific training and don't want to start at the beginning, but aren't quite ready for Part 2, yet. With an ACSTH program, we're free to customize your training program for your exact needs. Take the courses you want to reach the goals that matter to you. You can also take just one module, before you decide to take the whole program. Virtually all our modules can be taken one-at-a-time, although it's much more cost-effective to register for the full program. Don't take an ACTP program, unless you want one-size-fits-all training.

So there you have it! The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is less expensive, offers more choice, can fit your needs exactly, and starts giving you those crucial credentials within weeks, instead of forcing you into a long, expensive, one-size-fits-all training.

Learn more about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program; download the free fact sheet:

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: mentor coach, ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Life coaching school accreditation, coach training school, Coaching Certificate, Positive Psychology, positive psychology certificate, ACSTH

Do You Need to Be Certified to Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you may also be wondering if you need to become a certified coach and if so, what certifications do you need?

Some coaches will tell you, "No, you don't need to be certified to become a coach."

I'm going to tell you why that's terrible advice and why you do need to get certified, especially if you're a new coach who wants to succeed. My information comes from my own survey of 2,552 coaches, which is represented by the pie charts, below, plus several large surveys of the coaching industry by organizations, such as the ICF, and my experience working with thousands of coaches.

But don't take my word for it. Once you have the facts, make up your own mind and set yourself up for success.

#1 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

According to research by Coaching Sherpa and others, professional coaches with training & certification earn more, become successful more quickly, and are less likely to drop out of the profession.

According to School of Coaching Mastery's own research, 80.6% of all coaches wish they were more successful. Why lose even one good potential client because you don't have some letters after your name?

Do I need to be certified to become a coach

#2 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Certification helps distinguish you from non-coaches who call themselves coaches, and who often mislead or even harm clients. As more scandals arise about so-called coaches, authentic professional coaches seek reputable certifications as a way to assure potential clients that they are genuine coaches. In fact, in large-scale surveys by the ICF, coaches consistently cite untrained individuals who call themselves coaches as the number-one problem facing the coaching profession.

#3 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Rightly or wrongly, most people assume that certified professionals are better than those who are uncertified. Yes, there may be uncertified coaches who are good, but the public doesn't always know who they are. In the absence of a good referral from a trusted friend, many people look for certification, which essentially is a stamp or approval from a trusted source.

#4 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Your clients probably want you to be certified. According to a survey by the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients said coaching credentials were "important" or "very important" to them. This runs contrary to what some coaches say, which is that clients don't care about certification. Evidently most do, and the numbers go up according to region, with 91% of the general public (not just actual coaching clients) in Latin America stating that certification is important. Not only that, but according to SCM's own survey, 82.8% of professional coaches said they would feel more competitive if they were certified and 76% said they would sign on more paying clients. 

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#5 Reason you need to become a certified coach:


You probably want to be certified. According to the SCM survey, Do You Need Coach Certification?, which to date has been completed by 2,552 coaches worldwide, when asked if they intuitively want to get certified (in other words, is this what you really want, or is it just what you think you should do), 75.7% of professional coaches said they want to get certified.

Do you need coach certification

#6 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Someday you may legally need to be. Most people who want to become business, executive, or life coaches wonder if they need credentials in order to legally practice coaching. In most places the answer currently is, "No", but that may change. No one knows for sure what will happen, but having a recognized certification, such as ICF or IAC, can help grandfather you in, if/when regulation comes.

#7 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

You'll become a better coach. No, letters after your name won't magically make you better. But preparing for an oral certification exam will. I've learned something new with every certification that I've qualified for and I've seen hundreds of other coaches improve, as well. Great coaches tend to be more successful.

#8 Best reason you need to become a certified coach:

Regardless of the laws where you live, if you think like a coach, then you've evolved away from thinking that just having enough to get by is okay, and you actively choose to set yourself up for success in every way possible, instead. You're interested in best practices, not just minimum standards. Coach certification helps set you up for success and it represents coaching best practices.

Given all the good reasons why coaches, especially new coaches, benefit from coach certification, I sometimes wonder why a few coaches persist in telling new coaches they don't need it. Do they secretly want new coaches to fail, so there will be less competition? Are they terrified that the march toward professionalism will leave them in the dust? I don't know. But whenever I write about certification, some disgruntled coach leaves an angry, jeering, or paranoid comment on this blog, or on Facebook, or LinkedIn. UPDATE: See examples of this type of response, below, in comments #5, 6, & 10.

Clearly this is a hot-button issue for some. But if you're a new coach, don't just take advice. Get the facts and decide for yourself.

Take the survey, "Do You Need Coach Certification?". It'll help you decide if certification is right for you, based on your own  answers.

Ready to become a certified coach? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Or check out our entry-level training and certification:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, certified coach, certified competent coach

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