Every profession has their own body of knowledge composed of required knowledge, skills, competencies and ethics. They all have a unified way of looking at the world and the work they do.
I was a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). Now I am a Board Certified Coach (BCC).Therapy has one set; life coaching has another.
Board certification for a life coach is important because anyone can say they are a life coach. There is no licensing requirement, yet there is an identified body of knowledge that distinguishes a life coach from other professions. This body of knowledge includes a way of looking at the world, competencies, and ethics. If a person who says they are a life coach does not have the required training, they might not be able to help you find the answers inside yourself that you are seeking. If they do not commit to the ethics, they might harm you.
To my knowledge, there are at least three credible credentialing organizations for life coaches. The one I am certified by is the Center for Credentialing and Education. They offer the Board Certified Coach (BCC) credentials.
I wanted this one because it is closely affiliated with the National Board for Certified Counselors. They are the organization that certified me as a national certified counselor (NCC) and clinical mental health counselor (CCMHC) The BCC has a specially designed program for therapists who transition into life coaching.
There are also differences between teaching, consulting, mentoring and life coaching. But I’m mostly concerned with the differences between psychotherapy/counseling.
I think the most important quality for me is coaching’s emphasis on egalitarian relationships. Coaching is a partnership. While I was trained as a therapist in non-power relationships, coaching is a true partnership between two people who hold equal power in the relationship.
In therapy, people in pain come to an authority figure to alleviate their pain. They qualify for an official diagnosis and they can use their medical insurance. This is the medical model of mental health and dis-ease.
Regardless of how diligently I worked to empower my clients, my position as a therapist was one of authority and superior knowledge. I was expected to help a sick person get well.
Not so in life coaching.
Issues involving the use of power and dominance are critically important in the coaching relationship. No one is dominant in the coaching relationship. A coach approach to clients involves an equal balance of power. Coaching makes certain that the client holds their own power while the coach holds their own. It’s a true partnership of equals.
As a life coach, I am not expected to be wise or to dispense wisdom from on high. Instead, I must listen carefully to my client as she or he is the authority on their life. I will only become the authority on life coaching.
Life coaching takes a reverent view of the client as their own unique font of knowledge. People have their own answers inside them. They might just need a bit of assistance hearing themselves.
That’s where a coach learning to ask powerful questions enters the picture. The answers are already inside the client. Listening is a skill. Active listening is my talent. Coaching requires much active listening.
Ask questions. Listen to the answer. Give feedback. Listen to the response. I fell in love with this coaching process.
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