Choosing the life coaching program that is right for you can be tricky. With so many training programs to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed when doing your research. However, with the right information at your fingertips, your selection will be made easier. Here are nine important things to consider when making your choice:
Does the program adhere to ICF standards?
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is a global organization dedicated to setting and maintaining the highest standards in the life coaching fraternity. In fact, the ICF is considered the gold standard for all life coaches. The ICF has achieved this status through issuing independent certification as well as building a global network of certified life coaches. One of the ICF’s criteria is to accredit programs that deliver coach-specific training. For a program to be ICF-accredited, it is subjected to a rigorous review process to confirm that the program aligns with the ICF ethics and core competencies. This is what separates ICF accredited programs such as Aim Higher from all others. Unless you take an accredited program, you will not be able to attain an ICF certification. It is in your best interests to ensure you only go for a program that adheres to the ICF standards to ensure you are getting the very best life coach training.
Will you be getting ICF accredited hours?
When you start on your journey to obtain an ICF certification, ICF-accredited hours are crucial. ICF-accredited hours refer to the training hours that are offered by the ASCTH coaching program. After you’ve met the required ICF-accredited hours, you will have completed the first step towards an ICF credential. These credentials are:
- ACC – the Associate Certified Coaches must complete at least sixty hours of training and accumulated 100 hours of coaching experience.
- PCC – Professional Certified Coaches must have completed at least 125 hours of training and accumulate at least 500 hours of coaching experience.
- MCC – Master certified coaches must have completed no less than 200 hours of training and compiled at least 2500 hours of coaching experience.
Does the program have qualified faculty?
The quality of faculty cannot be overemphasized in any training program. When you have proficient instructors, you will get the best training. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Professor John Hattie of the Queensland Brain Institute posted surveyed data gathered from 500,000 studies on student learning and student achievement. In this survey, he discovered that the impact teachers have on their students in learning and achievement is greater than other factors such as technology, class size, and classroom environment. In fact, the survey established a direct link between poor performance of students to teachers that had low expectations and were generally not committed to the success of their students. This study shows that it is imperative the life coaching program you are considering has ICF credentialed instructors. You are going to put time, money, and commitment into your life coaching endeavors, so you want to make sure that you are being trained by the very best life coach instructors.
Does the program offer sufficient practice opportunities?
The saying “practice makes perfect” applies to life coaches. As a life coach, in-program coaching practice is just as important as the theory you will learn. This is why programs that are ICF accredited will incorporate mandatory practice opportunities. In fact, the ICF defines the start of coach-specific training as any ICF-approved program that has not less than 30 hours, any CCE program that has at least 30 hours (80 percent of which must be covering the core competencies), or a non-approved program that has at least 30 hours (80 percent of which must be covering the life coaching core competencies). This definition underscores the importance of practice in coach-specific training. As well, within the program, you should expect to have opportunities to practice your coaching skills, both giving and receiving. This will enable you to understand what it feels like to be a coach and a coaching client. Hands-on training and activation will give you opportunities to practice what you are learning, giving you greater confidence when you enter your coaching endeavors. So be sure to find out if the program you are considering offers you the chance to practice the ICF core competencies as part of their overall training.
Does the program have any extra value?
The ICF 11 core-competencies of life coaching are the foundation to making you a proficient life coach. However, a truly outstanding program will include extra skill sets that will make you a well-rounded life coach. For instance, Aim Higher includes training on Emotional Intelligence, Spiritual Gifts, understanding Temperament, and business training. The program you choose may also offer instruction on interpersonal skills, understanding body language, marketing, customer service, and others. While these skills are not mandated by the ICF, they are integral to your life coaching plans. When comparing different programs, find out what extra value they offer, so you can choose the right one for you.
Does the school stay contemporary?
The ICF core competencies of coaching will remain consistent year in year out, but how they are applied in real-life coaching situations will change depending on the prevailing trends. For instance, we now live in a time of big data, and every organization is considering how they can transform the big data into smart data. The incorporation of artificial intelligence stands out as one of the most prolific solutions to this challenge, and businesses like Starbucks have already started using AI to improve their business process and maximize their profits. Understanding such trends is vital, because they can drastically affect how life coaching is integrated into the day-to-day operations of organizations and individuals. According to Forbes, this new trend will inevitably create a demand for automated coaching. It might seem farfetched, but so do any technological revolutions. This is why it is important to train with a school that stays abreast of the latest trends in the life coaching fraternity.
Does the learning style fit your unique needs?
When it comes to coach-specific training, there is no one-size-fits-all. The fact that someone you know found a certain program that was perfect for them doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have the same experience with the same program. While referrals are always great, check to make sure the program aligns with your unique needs. The most important thing to check is how the program will help you become the best life coach in your niche of interest. For instance, if you want to become a Christian life coach, you will want to find a program that offers a Christian perspective. However, if you want to become a health and fitness coach, and you have experience and/or certifications in this area, then you only need to find a general life coach certification program. Make sure to read through any marketing material and the About Us page on the website to thoroughly understand what a particular program offers.
What networking opportunities are available?
It is also important to think about the networking opportunities that are available for you upon graduation from a life coach program. Will you have the opportunity to connect and network with other graduates? One of the great benefits of going through a life coaching program is the friendships you will make. You might find someone you can partner with. You may encounter someone with whom you can exchange skills. For example, you might be social media savvy, whereas one of your fellow graduates has excellent accounting skills. As well, because the ICF requires at least 25 hours of pro bono coaching hours, you can exchange these with your fellow graduates. Connections such as these can be valuable in many ways. For instance, when you meet a client who is interested in life coaching services, and you realize your niche doesn’t match his or her needs, you can refer them to one of your life coach friends who is a better match. You can also get referrals in the same way. The network may also come in handy when planning or attending life coaching events locally, nationally, or even internationally. Most programs that are solely online based have limited networking opportunities, although you can still use technology to connect with other students and faculty.
Your preferred niche.
There are programs that will train you in the core competencies of life coaching from a general perspective. This allows you to find your area of specialization through trial and error. However, if you have already made up your mind on the coaching niche you want to specialize in, it makes sense to look for a program that specializes in that niche. Such specialized programs will equip you with skills to make you the best you can be in your area of specialization. For instance, if your niche is in executive coaching, the training program you choose must focus on helping you to function in a corporate environment.
Finding the best ICF accredited coaching programs will take time and research. But the time you spend doing your homework will pay off. In the words of leadership specialist John Maxwell, you either pay now and play later or play now and pay later. It is best to invest the time to compare programs until you find the right one for you. While your heart may say, “Yes, I want to be an excellent life coach,” your head should say, “Let’s take the time to find the program to achieve that goal.” Once you pick the perfect ICF accredited coaching program, you can rest assured that you will graduate with all the necessary skills and tools to help you become the best life coach in your niche.