Picture Cerberus, Hades’ two- or three-headed dog – depending on which mythology you subscribe to, preparing for a change of career: from gate guard to life coach.
One head might argue that certification as a life coach is needed for credibility and accountability.
The other might say: since there are no regulations or requirements for coaches to certify in the UK, why bother going through the time and expense of certifying?
If you are one inclined to believe in that mythical dog having three heads, that third one might remain completely undecided, leaving the other two heads to argue it out.
If you are of two minds about whether to certify yourself as a life skills coach, allow your Superprof to chime in.
But first, let’s consider what a life coach does?
Imagine Cerberus’ multiple heads, arguing about becoming a life coach! Source: Pixabay Credit OCV
A life coach is a listener, but not in the same way your best friend listens.
Friends will entertain the spat you’ve had with your significant other, troubles you are having at work and all about the lack of harmony you’re currently (not) enjoying with your family.
If you are so lucky as to have a great friend or two that listens, you may discuss a variety of topics with them and get feedback, usually positive and supportive of you.
You won’t get that type of support from your coaching sessions.
Your life coach doesn’t care if you’ve put on too much to wear your bathing suit, earn too little to afford the wardrobe or car you really want and they really don’t care if you have a fight with your partner.
Well, that’s a bit harsh.
They do care about those things, but only inasmuch as they point to one overarching theme: there must be discontent in your life.
Of course, there is! Why else would you engage the services of a life coach?
What your life coach will do when listening to your litany of woes is ask you how those situations came about.
In other words: what is the root of your disconnect with yourself that causes all of these troubles to arise?
There’s an empowering question to reflect on!
A life coach is someone who gets to the source of your essential self and guides you to improvement.
Through exercises and action plans, your coach will help you identify obstacles that stand between you and your best self and find ways to overcome them.
They won’t coddle you or hold your hand, and it would be best to not have their number on speed dial in case of a Friday night fracas. They really would not appreciate such a late-night call!
They won’t even mentor you into a better life.
However, they will point out ways for you to empower yourself in achieving your goal of a better life.
And you may as well forget about fixing just one aspect of your life: maybe things going on at work or in your relationships.
For those, you might need a more specific type of guide: a relationship coach, business coaching if you are a business owner, or professional coaching if you want to get ahead in your organization.
One more thing a life coach isn’t: a therapist.
Let’s say there are issues that prevent you from personal growth: some sort of trauma that happened way back when, that has rendered you a shadow of your full potential.
Rest assured that your life coach will not attempt to treat any psychological issues that stand in the way of becoming a better you.
Instead, s/he will direct you to a professional therapist to tackle the issues that stand between you and your personal development.
Once those issues are resolved, s/he’ll be there for you!
Like your besties, life coaches listen. Unlike besties, life coaches hear! Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt
Because there are in fact no requirements to train, license and certify as a coach in our country, anyone intent on helping others can bill themselves as a coach.
Whether they would get much business is a different matter altogether!
You may have suffered experiences in your life that make you wiser than most, and that is good.
Well, bad that you have suffered but good that you have learned from it!
Perhaps you are particularly empathetic: you cry at sad movies or when you see instances of wasted potential… that’s good, too.
Putting empathy, wisdom and interpersonal skills such as effective communication together into one neat package in such a manner that you are able to consistently help those focused on their personal development…
That requires a bit of training and education.
There are core competencies and coaching skills that life coaches must master before they can competently engage in life coaching.
Coaching training is not a long, arduous process; in fact, it takes a mere 25 weeks, and the seminars you must attend in order to earn your credentials are hardly strenuous.
For example, the first learning module, Fundamentals, takes only two and a half days!
Other training is conducted online, either over the weekend or during the week, as your preference indicates.
In total, you will spend about 200 hours earning accreditation as a life coach, with just under half of that time spent consulting with real clients.
See resources for life coaches here.
Also, learn how you acquire clients as a life coach here.
In the news this week, we heard of a tragic bridge collapse in Genoa and a park in the U.S. state of Connecticut where unusually high numbers of people were dying.
In both instances, first responders cited compassion fatigue: the phenomenon that leads one continuously exposed to overwhelming events to lose empathy, suffering what is called secondary traumatic stress.
Clearly, those people are passionate about helping others, but do they really lead a balanced life?
Becoming a life coach means setting emotional boundaries, something that every profession along the human services spectrum advocates for.
Coach training emphasises your setting yourself apart from your clients as a person with needs and emotions all your own.
Setting boundaries is a vital skill that you will learn in coach training.
Incidentally, that same group suggests that people at risk of compassion fatigue use positive coping strategies such as meditation and relaxation.
Those are the very Zen principles that life coaching embraces!
Like a nice cuppa on a cold day, you can bask in the glow that having life coach certification provides Source: Pixabay Credit; Conger Design
Besides putting yourself firmly on the path that will lead you to help people, undergoing a training program to become a coach offers many other tools to help you succeed, such as:
Once you’ve attended every workshop, absorbed every part of the curriculum that makes up the training for a certified life coach, you then have the option of going even further.
You may choose to undergo the certification program sponsored by the International Coach Federation.
Being accredited by this body lends veracity to your efforts at helping people build a great life for themselves.
Besides, it offers continuing education courses so that your credentials and knowledge base stays current!
And, once you’re done credentialing…
You may find a niche market for yourself: perhaps those poor, overworked, stressed out healthcare workers or first responders need help finding a healthy balance in their lives.
You might branch out into leadership coaching, executive coaching, wellness coaching; perhaps you might investigate becoming a business coach!
What about free coaching, just to get your coaching business off the ground?
You may conduct workshops or at your local community centre or group coaching at your local library!
Once you have your coaching certification, the possibilities are endless…
Let us now go help Cerberus, that poor, multi-headed dog at the start of our story, who wants to transition into a more satisfying field but is undecided on whether to take coaching courses.
Is it necessary to obtain life coach certification?
From a legal standpoint, no. There is no regulation that dictates coaching programs to be led only by someone who has undergone certification training.
From the perspective of being well-equipped to do the job – to succeed in your new career?
It is absolutely vital that you undergo a certification course and see it through to its completion.
Not only to promote your coaching services and not just to specialise in any particular form of coaching; not even just so that you will be highly effective in motivating your clients through their transformational journey…
But so that you yourself will be transformed!
And that’s the best reason to become a credentialed life coach!