How to find a good coach: your guide to finding a proper – qualified – mentor, according to four experts

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  • Ever wondered how to sift through the sea of unqualified life coaches online? Let our experts help.

    Wondering how to find a good coach? It’s a tricky one, and a question we certainly want to know the answer too.

    Life coaches are a bit of a global phenomenon at current. According to the Coaching Federation, life coaching is the second fastest-growing industry in the world, with an average yearly growth of 6.7%.

    Globally, from 2016 to 2020, the number of life coaches grew by a whopping 33%.

    According to Stephanie White, owner of educational platform and copywriting company By The Way Creative, coaching was valued at around $15 billion in 2019, with a total of $7.5 billion worth market value in the US alone. “Millions of people utilise the help of expert coaches,” she explains. “From relationships to business, financial wellness to life coaching – there’s a coach for every niche, niggle and nightmare you might go through in life.”

    But, question: how do you distinguish a fully-qualified, registered professional from a not-so-qualified, not-so-professional coach? It can be super tricky to know – which is why we’ve asked for the guidance of four qualified professionals who work within the space.

    How to find a good coach: Your expert-led guide

    What is a coach?

    According to Rhiannon Bates, visibility coach and the founder of Garnet PR, there are many different types of coaches, from mindset, to business, to productivity, to fitness, to leadership and more.

    “The options are endless, but regardless of the niche, the purpose of coaching is to help, support and advise – to share insight, strategies and tactics which allow clients to develop their confidence, grow and achieve the results they want,” she explains.

    White stresses that a coach is someone who sees you and your business from the outside. “We have a very insular view of our world – a coach is able to take a more objective view of where you can improve and grow,” she shares.

    Amy Crumpton, founder of Social Cactus and business and mindset coach, agrees, adding that the main purpose of coaching is to help someone work towards achieving a specific goal. “Normally, your coach will work with you to uncover any mindset blocks or self-limiting beliefs that may be holding you back, help you to create a strategy that feels aligned to you, and hold you accountable as you take action,” she highlights.

    Note here: coaching isn’t about telling you what to do or who to be; rather, it’s a guided helping hand that equips you with the right tools to come up with solutions based on who you are and what you believe to be true.

    How to find a good coach: Woman writing in notepad

    What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

    Good question, as the two things are commonly confused. In short, coaching looks forward, whereas therapy looks back, according to Crumpton.

    “In therapy the main focus is to look back at the past whereas in coaching the main focus is to move forward,” she explains.

    What does coaching stereotypically involve? 

    As above, it depends on your coach and what you’re aiming to get out of your coaching, but most forms of coaching will include goal setting, work on skill development and identifying gaps in your self-belief, according to Bates.

    “The key thing about coaching is that it isn’t a done-for-you, one-size-fits-all service; rather it is guidance on a path the person already wants to be on, encouragement and support along the way and empowering people to achieve results,” she explains.

    How to find a good coach: Writing in her diary

    Aren’t all coaches qualified? 

    Short answer: sadly not. As Lucy Wheeler, lawyer and the founder of Lucy Legal explains, there are numerous bodies who purport to offer legitimate coaching courses, but that in itself can be a little bit of a minefield.

    “There are courses and providers who offer training ‘qualifications’ after a weekend of study and with very minimal coaching experience,” she shares. “The very best courses tend to be the ones which require at least six months’ worth of studying and a significant number of hours spent coaching, for example, 100 to 500 hours.”

    Plus, as Bates expands, there’s also no real regulatory body in the UK at current. “While segments of the industry are regulated in the UK, such as health coaches, the business coaching and life coaching sectors are currently unregulated with no governing body,” she explains. “Someone can call themselves a coach without any training or experience.”

    “While most will not set out to deceive, the industry is open to abuse the way it is currently set up,” she stresses.

    What to look for in a qualified coach

    Wheeler advises it’s always helpful to look out for a qualified coach who has trained on an ICF accredited programme.

    Next time you find a coach you like the look of, Bates reccomends checking out The International Coaching Federation and further doing the following:

    • Looking for hands-on experience and/ or qualifications in their chosen area
    • Asking why they are qualified to coach what they do
    • Looking for testimonials so you can see what other people’s results and thoughts have been
    • Asking to speak to a former client.

    “Basically, do your research and ensure this person knows what they’re doing before you sign up,” she advises.

    How to find a good coach: A woman sits with her mentor

    5 flags to watch out for when looking for a coach

    1. Make sure you’ve got a good connection

    Any coach you choose should have a good connection with you and the relationship should be a good fit, according to Bates.

    2. Ensure they’re an expert in their field – and the field you need help with

    Obvious but important. “They should also be an expert in their niche,” stresses Bates.

    “It’s no good finding a productivity coach if you want or need a mindset coach, and a really good coach will be honest with you if they don’t think they can serve you, and may even recommend someone else to work with.”

    3. Avoid empty promises

    Or so warns Crumpton. “Any promises of overnight success is a red flag – no coach can promise results, especially overnight,” she explains. “The client is responsible for their own results and everyone is on a different journey that takes people various amounts of time.”

    4. Check their testimonials 

    Don’t engage if they’ve got fake looking testimonials on their website, advises Crumpton. White further recommends only going with coaches who you’ve had recommended via word of mouth.

    5. Check their qualifications 

    Again, obvious but essential. Wheeler says: “Always check for qualifications – look for a qualified coach who has trained on an ICF accredited programme.”

    How to find a good coach – sorted.

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