Coaching is not therapy
Life coaches are part of a growing profession. The International Coach Federation (ICF) says it has more than 12,000 members worldwide, or double the amount just five years ago. In a survey commissioned by the ICF last year, 16 percent said their coaching specialty is "life vision and enhancement," the third most popular area behind executive and leadership coaching.
The survey also found that women make up more than half the clientele of professional coaches. Don't expect a therapy session when you meet with a life coach. While some have a background in counseling, the process is different.In simplistic terms, a therapist is [there] to heal the wounds of the past, and a life coach supports you in moving your life forward.
A rule of thumb for many coaches: If a client tries to convince me of someone else's wrongdoing more than three times, I know they are not ready to move forward, and I suggest therapy might be a more appropriate option.
Coaching is about helping individuals to take responsability of their own life.Another big difference is that therapists try to help people with problems, while coaches help already healthy people improve their lives. Learning skills to handle stress, adversities and other life challenges -- regardless of the source -- is a positive step for any person.It's also important to remember that life coaches are not regulated.
There are numerous coach training programs all over the world. Associations like the International Coach Federation have their own credentialing programs, but there is no requirement yet for anyone who wants to practice life coaching to take part.Mental health experts say life coaches can help improve someone's life, provided they're qualified.
Finding a coach
Just like hiring any professional, you should do some homework and shop around before choosing a life coach. Since it's someone you'll be working with closely, and probably revealing a lot of personal information to, it's key to look for someone with whom you feel at ease. As with any relationship, it's important for coach and client to 'click' interpersonally. You need to be comfortable with your coach's personality and communication style.
The International Coach Federation recommends talking to three prospective candidates and requesting two or more references from each. It advises asking the coaches lots of questions, including how much experience they have, how many people they've worked with and what specific successes they've had in helping their clients.
The best way to find out which coach is best for you is to ask for a sample session and then use that time to get coached on a real problem, not to ask questions about coaching. Trust yourself.
If the coach isn't supporting you right off the bat, say 'thank you' and move on.You can search a database of coaches credentialed by the International Coach Federation at its Web site: http://www.coachfederation.org.
Working with a coach
Once you've found a professional life coach, be prepared to open your mind and your wallet. A session with one can cost from € 50,00 for a hour-session to more than € 300,00 depending of the experience, the issue and the mission.
More and more companies hire the services of corporate and executive coaches. (the average fee of a professional coach can vary from € 300,00 to € 4.000,00 depending again of the nature of the mission.
Many coaches require a three-month commitment to start, and you're likely to talk with them once a week, in person or by phone.It is important to be aware that you get of the coaching experience what you put into it, so hire a coach when you're ready to make changes, and devote your attention to doing the work.
A coach can be a powerful asset, but they will work in a partnership with you, and you determine where you want that partnership to go.
Sources: CNN, ICF & BAO Coaching Ways www.baogroup.be