Following the launch of the Radiant Coaches: Live Sessions podcast where I interview a certified coach and receive a live coaching session, I have been reflecting on my own decision to become a certified coach.
The coaching industry is not regulated in the way that many of us coaches would like. Anyone can launch a fancy website and call themselves a coach. In contrast, other wellness professionals including therapists and counselors are regulated by becoming members of a professional body. They are encouraged to receive their own counseling/therapy and have supervision sessions. This holds them to high levels of accountability, while aiding personal growth.
Coaches do not currently have recognized professional bodies, but this could change in time. We do have organizations such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) that provides guidance, standards, and practices for training organizations and individuals to adhere to.
Three years ago when I decided to train as a coach I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of organizations offering different kinds of training and pricings. In the end I talked to my career coach who I had worked with when transitioning into freelancing. She recommended I look for ICF accredited training companies. These training establishments are governed by a code of ethics, follow standardized guidelines, and provide students the opportunity to obtain three credentialing levels: Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Master Certified Coach (MCC).
Choosing a Coach Training Organisation
I looked at hundreds of courses! I assessed how each covered the three essential areas I needed:
- Flexibility of the training program
- Price, including available payment plans
- Demonstrable diversity and inclusion values
I knew the course had to be holistic life coaching with a good mix of spiritual approaches and solid business advice that I would need for setting up my new business. If you are looking to train as a coach I suggest writing down the requirements that are important to you from a training organization.
I whittled it down to three companies and booked zoom chats with each CEO. As soon as I met Dez Stephens from Radiant Coaches Academy (RCA) I knew I was home and have not looked back since! The training provided everything I needed, and I have made amazing friends, got to work with wonderful people, and now teach the syllabus to students. I am proud to be part of RCA and to help with the work they do for the coaching world.
Having now run my holistic relationship coaching business for two years, I can see the value of training with an accredited ICF organization. Here are my five main reasons.
- Course Structure. Because RCA is an ICF accredited establishment I trusted the contents of the syllabus, the quality of the classes, and the standard of support and feedback received during my training. I enjoyed the freedom of completing the course in my own timeframe (it was during Lockdown and my main source of work as an inclusion trainer was on hold so I obtained my certification within five months). And the flexible payment options were vital.
- Code of Ethics. While studying with RCA one requirement is to complete the ICF Ethics Course. This means my knowledge and standards are held at the highest level. Two situations stand out where the Ethics Code supported my practice and my clients.
a. With one client it became apparent she needed counseling and not coaching. After a tricky conversation where she was adamant that coaching was right for her, I assured her it would be unethical for me to continue and issued a full refund.
b. A client who stated romantic feelings for me. After reiterating the boundaries and ethics of my position as her coach, we were able to work through the situation and she ended up going on to achieve valuable changes in her life.
- Credentialing. Clients that know about credentialing will be looking for proof of your training, number of coaching hours, and commitment to good practice. Being able to work on my PCC though RCA has created a continuity of training that I enjoyed. I did not have to source my own mentor and could be assured of quality mentorship. For coaches who enjoy continued professional development, having the opportunity to work towards a credential is fantastic. And each credential needs renewing every three years, which means you are constantly refining your practice.
- Coach Supervision. I decided to get a coach supervisor as soon as I could resource one. I know the value that therapists and counselors gain from their supervision sessions. Supervisors choose who they want to work with, and without a certification I would not have been able to secure my brilliant supervisor. She is an MCC and a relationship therapist, so as a certified holistic relationship coach I am grateful to have her guide my practice.
- Community Connection. By being part of ICF I have had the opportunity to work with several ICF Chapters (local communities comprising ICF members). This has allowed me to receive specialist training on topics I am interested in (improvisation for coaches, diversity and inclusion in coaching, and more) and learn about coaching practices in different countries.
How to Choose Your Own Coach
As well as initially checking whether they have a certification, ask them where they trained, their accountability procedures, coaching hours, and testimonials. Look for two-way rapport when you meet them, as this helps build trust and commitment while you continue to work with them. I recommend you ask them about their ongoing training and education, and whether they have their own coach, coach mentor, and coach supervisor.
Certification: First level of coaching training. Coaches must achieve 60 hours of coaching training, follow a syllabus, complete 20 hours of practice coaching sessions, pass an online ICF ethics course, and complete various other written work.
Credentialing: Higher levels of training. Each level is differentiated by having completed more training hours and had more coaching hours. All students need a coach mentor, to complete an online exam and ethics course, and submit sample coaching recordings.
Accreditation: A training organization that is accredited by the ICF.
Coach Mentor: Collaborative environment where the coach mentor helps the coach achieve the ICF core competencies by giving feedback and guidance on their coaching, so they may achieve their credential. The focus is on the coach’s skills.
Coach Supervisor: Supportive environment where the coach shares issues relating to their professional work, such as exploring a client case study, or discussing a business challenge. Coach supervisors focus is on all aspects of the coach’s abilities, providing a reflective space in which to share successes and unpack challenges.