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Is Life Coaching Even Credible?

The short answer is yes, no and it depends. The fact of the matter is that the coaching industry is unregulated, which invites intense scrutiny, and rightfully so. Everyone from social media influencers, to motivational speakers to persons with extensive experience in specific fields are free to call themselves coaches, without credentials or formal education. In an unregulated industry, this is where the conflict arises.


All isn't lost though. Fortunately, there is a sector of coaching that operates based on professional and ethical standards, set by overseeing bodies that are working to regulate the coaching industry. Additionally, these bodies act as quality control gatekeepers, ensuring that the entry barrier entails meeting stringent educational, professional and ethical structures, through exposure and compliance.


In an unregulated industry, this is where the conflict arises.

Overseeing bodies and their functions


Coaching as a profession is yet to mature, having been around since the late 80’s means that it is still at the point where it has to invest heavily in establishing awareness, trustworthiness and professionalism. Working on this are a number of organizations such as the International Association of Coaching (IAC), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE), and the most prominent of them all being the International Coaching Federation (ICF).


The ICF, in particular, ensures that accredited schools that provide coach training and the credentialed individuals, belonging to its membership, subscribe to a commitment of advancing the coaching profession. In its up-keeping of standards and practices, the ICF presents and oversees varying quality assuring and safeguard measures such as:

  • Core Competencies

  • Individual Coach Credentialing

  • Training Program Accreditation

  • Code of Ethics and Conduct

  • Ethical Conduct Review Processes

  • An Independent Review Board

  • Program Complaint Process


Coaching as a profession is yet to mature…

What separates coaching from other support professions?


Despite its name, life coaches are not experts at life, and shouldn’t be viewed as such. A professional coach will neither purport to be an expert nor give advice on the subject of the coaching session. However, coaches are experts on the connective, contributing aspects of the success process that connects individuals, groups and organizations to a defined ideal of success.


Without going into definitions for psychotherapy, mentoring, counseling, consulting and other support fields, know that what sets coaching apart is that the coach doesn’t advise, prescribe or diagnose. Further the coach does not need to be an expert in the designated field they coach in. Matter of fact, the coach trusts that the client is the expert in their own life and treats them as whole, resilient and resourceful, capable of creating the outcome that is most relevant to them.


Despite its name, life coaches are not experts at life, and shouldn’t be viewed as such.

The success process that coaching supports is client-centered, future-focused and action-oriented. This is matched with various competencies like:

  • active and deep listening

  • reflection

  • effective communication

  • co-creative relationships

  • cultivated trust and safety

  • learning and growth

  • unbiased awareness, etc.


A professional coach will be formally trained in all of these areas and will separate the client from the story they share, be totally present, curiously follow the story, and sticks to the client’s objective, with the aim of helping to identify the next logical step toward the goal.


Determining credibility


When it all comes down to it, credibility of the coaching industry, at this point in time may just be subjective and things like personal preference, testimonies, success stories and acceptance/rejection of research-based evidence will play a role in where on the credibility scale it is placed. However, no matter where it stands, there will be angles that point in every conceivable direction. Despite that, evidence can be found on the positive emotional, work-based, skill-based, well-being, organizational outcomes that coaching has.


In recent times there seems to be a growing buy-in into the credibility of coaching and the benefits it presents. Verizon has said that 90% of its new hires and directors work with an executive transition coach in their first 90 days of the role. Additionally, according to them, the investment pays off, with employee claims of the coaching being:

  • Assisting the onboarding process

  • Significantly increasing their productivity

  • Impacting their communication, executive presence, influence, resilience, team performance and strategic thinking.


However, no matter where it stands, there will be angles that point in every conceivable direction.

Further, on the list, buying into the credibility of coaching, are other giants like Google, Amazon, Deloitte and more. Despite this, and the overwhelming number of individuals and organizations that believe in coaching, there still exists a faction of doubters, and rightfully so. Their scrutiny will be what continues to contribute to the advancement and self-regulation of the industry. Maybe, one day, we’ll even see governmental regulation, but until that day, establish your own measures, preferences and research for deciding whether coaching is appropriate and compatible with you.


To further explore how coaching can benefit you, be sure to book a free 20 minute discovery call with me, where we discuss what you’d like to achieve and how coaching can support you on that journey.


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