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 worked as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). Now I work as a Board Certified Coach (BCC). Therapy has one body of knowledge; life coaching has another.
Certification for a life coach is important because anyone can say they are a life coach. There are no licensing requirements, and all credentials are voluntary.
There is an identified body of knowledge that distinguishes life coaching 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 chose to earn the BCC 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 differences between teaching, consulting, mentoring and life coaching. All coaches need to learn this distincetion. I’m personally concerned with the differences between coaching and psychotherapy/counseling. It’s a big difference.
If I hadn’t chosen to earn board certification, I would not have known these differences. Differences in theory, skills, and approaches. I could not have successfuly made the transition to professional life coaching.
I think the most important quality for me is coaching’s emphasis on egalitarian and equal 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.
I learned the coaching approach to solving life’s problems from classes at the Institute for Life Coaching Training in their Approved Board Certified Coach Training Program. The board required proof of my education, all college transcripts, prior board certifications, and proof of practice coaching to the board. There’s a difficult exam to pass as well.
Other coach credentialling programs have equally stringent requirements. That’s the mark of between a professional coach.
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