How to find a good life coach

A good life coach can be hard to find quickly. Like most products and services, people are generally willing to spend money when they get:

  1. A minimum level of quality
  2. For the right price.

Unfortunately, evaluating quality can be difficult for people searching for life coaches. The tips and suggestions below, however, should help you in your search to find one that suits you.

How much should good life coaching cost?

To start with, I think there are questions you need to ask yourself. For example, how much:

  • Is addressing my problems worth to me?
  • Is achieving my goals worth to me?
  • Time and money am I going to waste by not making any changes in my life?

This may provide some perspective when considering the total cost of life coaching for you.

Some life coaches might charge less than $100/hour, whilst others command over $1,000/hour. Coaches often offer as-needed hourly sessions or provide the option to purchase multiple sessions in advance. However, coaching is an unregulated industry and therefore warrants the individual to do some research on prospective coaches first. Unfortunately you don’t necessarily get what you pay for, so it’s worth talking to a few different coaches to make an informed decision.

Return on investment in coaching

The International Coach Federation says that an independent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 86% of companies said that they made at least their initial investment back. Other individual reports and studies have shown that coaching interventions:

  1. Produced a 529% return on investment
  2. Resulted in 73% of executives expressing that coaching had a good return on investment (article behind paywall)
  3. Caused a business to record a 689% return on investment for coaching

The return on investment (ROI) argument for coaching alone is enough to sway many people into seriously considering how coaching could help them.

Quality in good life coaching

If the money side of the equation makes sense, then how does one find a quality coach? It’s worth looking into a coach’s qualifications, the techniques they use, their ethical standards and how well you “fit” with their approach.

Qualifications

A prospective coach’s qualifications can make a big difference. Some coaches complete their studies at reputable institutions, like universities. Other coaches, however, might have simply paid for short, online courses of questionable quality. In order to combat this, the International Coach Federation requires that its members accurately represent their training, that their training is primarily for coaching and that they have demonstrated coaching competencies (see ICF coach requirements here). Therefore, there is some level of security in selecting a coach who has a membership with the ICF.

Methods and techniques

Coaching is similar to counselling in that it requires a “therapeutic relationship” between coach and client as its foundation. In general, if there isn’t a good fit between coach and client, it is less likely that meaningful change will occur for the client. In order to create this therapeutic relationship, coaches and counsellors use active listening techniques (also known as reflective listening) to relate to a client, thereby creating mutual understanding. If a life coach cannot tell you about active listening, this might be a sign that they are not trained in such a way that is supported by the evidence of the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship.

Beyond this, coaches generally employ a number of techniques, such as solution-focused brief therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming and more. These techniques are not equal and some have good evidence bases behind them, whilst others can be mere forms of quackery. It may be worth asking a prospective life coach how they know their techniques work – anecdotal evidence like “I use this all the time and think it works” carries a different weight to it than techniques supported by years of scientific research performed at reputable institutions. Buyer beware.

Coach-client fit

A good life coach-client fit is an important part of an ongoing life coaching relationship. If a client feels that their coach does not fit them well after a few sessions, this may be an indication that another coach may be worth talking to. However, if a client feels good about talking to their coach and believes their coach understands them, then this is a positive sign. Additionally, measuring the success of the coaching relationship can be important. For example, the Outcome Rating Scale and Session Rating Scale are effective in measuring change. Ask a prospective coach about how they might measure the success of a coaching relationship with you.

Ethical standards of a good life coach

Different life coaches will draw an ethical line on different issues. Whilst some will be happy to charge you no matter what you present them with, others may be unwilling to continue a coaching relationship if you may be better served by another practitioner. In order to provide a high standard of ethics, the ICF has its own Code of Ethics for its coach members. Such ethics include confidentiality, referrals (as above) and record-keeping – all issues which you may want to ask a prospective coach. Conflicts of interest can also arise in a coaching relationship and it is unwise to have a coach who puts their needs entirely above yours. Once again, selecting a coach with an ICF membership increases your chances of finding quality.

Summary

Finding a good life coach is not easy, but the considerations above should aid you in your search. The price that a coach charges you should be a reflection of their training, methods and ethical standards. If you’d like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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