The mental health industry has seen huge growth in the availability of coaches and other mental health practitioners. Access to certification for such practices, and a largely unregulated industry means that not everyone with a certificate should be trusted to guide you through life’s challenges.
Just like not all doctors are created equal, nor are coaches. Check out this list of points to be aware of before placing your trust into the hands of a stranger.
Certification used to be important, but not so much anymore. There are certificates available with minimal training instruction for as little as $20 online. Being backed by an international institute or body also doesn’t mean that the training adequately prepares the individual to be a coach.
Certification should be considered as the bare minimum and not in itself proof of competence. Look beyond the certificate and check for experience, references, or other evidence that they are skilled and knowledgeable at what they do. Most importantly, check to be sure that they are skilled in the specific area that you require assistance.
2. Establish rapport
Believe it or not, many coaches lack the emotional maturity to handle their own life’s challenges, let alone someone else’s. It’s not easy to determine how emotionally mature they are when reviewing their credentials, so check if they offer a free connect session. That is, a session where they allow you an opportunity to evaluate the suitability of their skills and demeanour in working with you to address your goals or challenges.
Remember, this is about you, not them. So you must be comfortable to work with them or else you won’t feel confident to boldly unpack the detail of what may be holding you back. Establishing a good rapport is a major hurdle to overcome if you hope to achieve results as quickly as possible.
3. Are they empathetic or sympathetic?
Empathetic means that they can understand where you’re at, and they have a genuine appreciation for what you’re going through. Sympathetic means that they not only understand, but they also have an emotional investment because of their personal experience with a similar challenge. As strange as it may sound, you don’t want a sympathetic coach.
If your coach is sympathetic towards your state, they run a considerably higher risk of losing objectivity and developing a bias for your position. As comforting as that sounds, it could be the very reason that holds you back from overcoming the current obstacles in your path.
You need someone that is more empathetic and less sympathetic so that they relate to what you’re experiencing, but are insightful and objective enough to guide you towards understanding your contribution towards your current challenges.
Important! We cannot coach someone that is not in the room. So, if your coach is focusing on someone else’s behaviour and not dealing with yours, be very concerned. They’re stroking your ego, not helping you to recover.
4. What makes a good coach?
According to Coach the Life Coach, the following 8 points are key attributes of a good coach, and I agree:
- They must be a great listener.
- Must have an excellent ability to build rapport with their clients
- An understanding of rapport at different levels for different types of clients is essential.
- They must be able to formulate questions artfully and skillfully to prompt the client towards self-realisation.
- Extended or awkward silences must not make them uncomfortable. Some coaches feel a need to fill every gap in the discussion.
- Being able to re-frame any event demands that they have broad experience and real life wisdom.
- They absolutely must be passionate about helping people.
One more I would add to that is that they must be very comfortable with pushing the tough discussion and guiding their client through it. Many coaches want to be favoured more than they want to be true to the client’s needs. For this reason, they avoid getting too contentious because they’re afraid of losing the client.
In a nutshell, these are the points that you must explore in your connect session with your coach to determine how skilled and/or suitable they are to help you achieve your goals.
You don’t always pay for what you get. The rate being charged by a coach is not always an indication of their expertise. Don’t use the rate card of a coach to measure their skill or expertise. As much as there is massive growth in the coaching industry, it is still a relatively young industry, and as such, is still establishing its norms and benchmarks.
A good coach could cost anything between ZAR350 to ZAR2500 per hour (US$25 to US$180). Or more. But it all depends on their client base, and their niche.
The bottom line is that the only thing a rate should tell you is whether or not the coach is affordable for you. Everything else about them must be assessed independent of their rate.
6. What about NLP, CBT, and all of that?
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), or even Hypnotherapy are simply methods or modalities that can be used in an approach to intervening on issues in a coaching scenario. Like all methods, they have their place, but they also have their limitations.
Be careful of coaches that swear by one or the other, or take a textbook approach to responding to your questions or challenges. A sure sign to raise concern is if your coach constantly tries prescribed methods in every session.
Be weary of coaches that speak in methodologies and psycho-jargon. The human condition is not as complex as many would have us believe. We’re humans. So, if we can’t explain in simple terms what is causing us to experience difficulty in our experience as humans, then we’re just over-complicating an already complicated situation. Right?
So, why would I share all this with you? I want informed clients, because informed clients add to the integrity of the industry, and they keep coaches honest.
Coaches are human. We make mistakes, and we have bad days. The more informed you are as a client, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to correct us on those bad days. More importantly, the more informed you are, the higher the probability of finding a coach that is effective for you.
Remember, this is an investment in taking your life to the next level. Don’t compromise on that by looking for a coach that is going to make you feel comfortable with where you’re at.
Let’s build the life that you’ve always dreamed of.