Do I need a coaching credential? - Part One By Laurel Elders, MCC, CEC
Here are the top three pitfalls we encounter at the Institute when people are determining if a coaching credential will be suitable for them.
1. My current degrees and certifications qualify me to coach. Would you go to a mechanic to fix a dental issue? I hope not. Although a dentist and mechanic both diagnose and treat problems, their process and systems differ vastly.
I often have conversations with individuals who have 3-4 certifications/degrees, and they do not wish to go back to school to be a coach. I get that. I remember feeling the same about wanting to be done with training. The question I hear most is, "Do I need more training?”
Coaching is both a skill set and a process of self-actualization. Unless your previous training included coach training, the frameworks and premise are entirely different from each other. While you may already embody some skills, proper coaching does not include counseling.
This is because there are two paths to developing our potential. On the first path, we are shown the way through counseling, books, classes, spiritual guidance, etc. On the second path, we reach our potential by going within ourselves for our truth and answers. Nobody else can teach us this path. However, a true coach illuminates the way.
I have also found that the more training and credentials someone has, the more challenging time they can have in the coach's seat. They often end up defaulting to other modalities like counseling and advising.
If you have an extensive background in other areas and do not want additional training, you may want to consider the following: 1) Am I a lifelong learner? Perhaps there is more! 2) Do I want to be an advisor, consultant, or counselor?
2. I got my degree from the school of hard knocks. I completely understand this and have felt the exact way many times over. Truth and power come from the empathy needed to hold space for another person's growth. However, the reality we discover from excavating our truths doesn't seamlessly equate to other people's truths.
Why? Well, every human being has a unique success formula. A trained coach learns with wisdom and humility that they can become experts in external things in life but will never be experts in another person's truth. Our job as professional coaches is to help people excavate their truth, not ours for them.
So, yes, your life experience is a valuable asset for empathy. After empathy, we can help people create success from their inner truth. Sharing your personal success formula may feed someone a fish for a day. Getting them to their own reality, teaches them to fish for a lifetime.
3. The government does not require a credential. This one tripped me up when I first started as a coach. I took the bare minimum training because I didn't feel I needed to get training in the first place. I later discovered a few things worth considering.
There is a reason coaching is not regulated by the government yet. The government regulates professions at high risk for ethical breaches, such as medical, therapeutic, or financial professions. Because actual coaches: 1) support people in growing by identifying their truth, 2) do not give advice or counsel people, and 3) do not evaluate or treat medical or emotional conditions, it is classified as a low-liability profession.
Will this continue? We see an uptick in therapists transitioning to coaching with little to no training or getting a rubber stamp credential to evade therapy licensure. If this continues, that could be considered an ethical breach, and the government may decide to step in.
We see some therapists using the title to escape licensing, and others switching to a coaching title because they don't fully understand how different coaching is. Some may assume they are already qualified as a coach because of their background in therapy.
While proper coaching can be therapeutic, because the client is doing their own work and process, no therapy is applied by the coach.
My colleague Ana Melikian, a Ph.D. psychologist who has transitioned into coaching, explains it this way: As a therapist, she helped people get from -10 to neutral, so they can gain agency over their life. As a coach, she helps people go from neutral, or a +5, to a +10.
Some soft skills, such as empathy and reflection, transfer to being a masterful coach. However, in coaching, there are entirely new processes, ethics, and skills that coaches adhere to.
I hope these considerations were illuminating for you if you are indeed considering coach training or know someone who is.
Next, we'll review credential options and their unique purposes.