Five tips to find the right coach for you
So you've decided you want to reach your goals, want to make some changes in your life, you want to achieve something. But how do you find the best coach for you? Here are my tips:
1. Look at qualifications.
Coaching today is an unregulated field. Basically anyone can be a coach. One good way to get quality coaching is to hire a coach who has qualifications and has done training with an accredited school. I would say accreditation with ICF or an ICF associated training program/school is a good sign for quality. You can check if a school or a program has ICF accreditation here: http://coachfederation.org/credential/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=2106
Alternatively, in the UK there is an organization called Life Coach Directory (http://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/). They have a very strict policy on which professionals they list. You have to have professional qualifications, insurance and/or be member of a professional body (memberships are also conditional to professional qualifications). Check them out, it's also a good place to start.
2. Have a selection
Referrals can be useful, but they won't be what you will base your final decision on. If a coach has qualifications, it means they have done training and have passed some sort of tests and assignments. The best thing to do is interview or chat with a few coaches. Don't just take the first one a friend recommends. Make sure you have a list of people you can check out and see how connecting with them works out for you.
3. Do your research.
Just like in other areas of life, research the options, educate yourself and shop around. Yes, there is a big part of this decision that will be personal choice and gut feeling, but have good options to choose from. Browse profiles, check out prices, do get referrals from friends, ask them what they have achieved in their sessions and what they like about their coaches. Be well-informed so you can make a good choice.
As for prices, do not be fooled. Most experienced coaches, depending on sector will ask for prices around $200 per session. The teacher I trained with, being the president of a famous coaching institution and with 20+ years of coaching experience charges around $500- 600 per session, so you don't need to pay much more than that. You certainly don't need to pay thousands of pounds for a session (you may be surprised but some people ask for that amount of money). In the UK most typically coaches charge between £75-£150 per session, depending on the industry they work in. Executive and business coaching will be at the higher end or can charge even more.
There are coaches who charge less than £75 per session - that doesn't mean they aren't good. Many excellent coaches with lots of experience come from the social sector, where they are not used to asking for that amount of money. Also, there are lots of coaches at the beginning of their career who will offer coaching for less. Many of them are great. Catch them before they put their prices up.
4. Try it out.
Ask for a demo, a trial session, an interview or a consultation. Personally, I think it's good if you can have a coaching session even if it is a shorter one. It's important for you to see how the two of you can work together, something that doesn't always show in a chat or a consultation.
Feel free to ask for a trial coaching session. It's the coach's personal decision whether they offer it or not, but my teacher told me she has done thousands of initial demonstration sessions or trial sessions, so it's definitely okay to ask if the coach offers one. Either way, it is essential that you can have a discussion, get to know each other better.
5. The most important factor: It's your personal choice!
I cannot stress this enough. Yes, do your homework and narrow it down to a selection of qualified coaches. Get referrals, but as I said before, treat the information carefully. What worked for someone else, may not be the best approach or way for you. Anyway, it all comes down to you. Don't choose the most qualified coach, nor the most experienced one. Not even the most expensive one or the one with the best website or who's most famous or most liked on Linkedin. Choose the one you feel like you worked together best. Go with your gut. Coaching is a professional working relationship. You will have to work together on achieving your goals. If you can't trust them or don't like them, it won't work (that well).
Also, when you come out of a coaching session you should feel very good. Feeling ecstatic, enthusiastic and fired up is generally part of coaching. We want you to be full of energy, so you can move towards your goals with commitment, efficiency and resourcefulness. Sometimes you will deal with difficult topics, like removing limiting beliefs. In these cases it is okay to feel a bit uncomfortable during the sessions. Old habits, fears, insecurities even if they don't serve you, can be very stubborn and persistent. However, it is not okay to feel judged, patronised or criticised by your coach. If you feel bad during a coaching session and you feel it doesn't serve you, you have every reason to discuss it with your coach. Coaches don't instruct and don't advise. They facilitate.
I wish you the best of luck in finding your ideal coach. For every person there is a great coach who matches them in the best way. You have already made the very significant decision to make changes in your life, to make it more wonderful. Congratulations. That takes courage. Now take action and get support so that you can follow through. Here's to your success!
Katie Fabricz, MSc CEG