The field of life coaching represents a huge opportunity for career development for those who are already in the wellness and fitness professions. At both the national and international level, coaching conferences are increasing, with more and more trainers and instructors expanding their existing careers by adding these invaluable coaching services.

When you are first starting out on this career path, you may find the options of schools, courses and training programs a bit overwhelming. However, with a bit of information, you can find the best option for your particular needs. Take the time to consider each factor here and do your own research to find the life coach training program that will allow you to meet your career goals. Doing this will pay off in the long run and help you be successful and effective in regard to the life coaching skills that you have and need.

What is the Role of a Life Coach?

A life coach develops professional relationships with clients to help them in harnessing their skills, strengths, and resources. This is all in an effort to help the client clarify, focus and then implement a goal-directed strategy. Effective coaches will empower their clients and help to nourish their insight, increase self-confidence, challenge limits, inspire excellence and generate commitment. The method of coaching is guided by the vision of the client and how ready they are to take action in reaching a particular goal.

For those who are interested in learning how to become a life coach, they must first acquire the proper training. Even the very best training program will not be enough to ensure a person is completely prepared for this career. It is also essential that the individual has prior professional experience in fields that are related to the life coaching career path. The fact is, a reputable and proven coach training program is truly invaluable. Some information that should be considered when searching for the right life coaching program can be found here.

A Foundation of Knowledge

ICF, International Coach Federation, has created a list of 11 foundational elements that are widely recognized in the professional life coaching realm. Anyone who has the intentions of becoming a coach needs to demonstrate a level of mastery in each of these core abilities.

  • Meet all the outlined professional standards and ethical guidelines.
  • Develop a detailed and concise coaching agreement.
  • Be flexible, open and always present when working with clients.
  • Be sure to establish a sense of intimacy and trust with each client.
  • Always practice active listening.
  • Ask thought provoking and powerful questions.
  • Be direct in all communication.
  • Foster client awareness.
  • Design results-oriented actions and various learning opportunities for clients.
  • Plan and set goals that the client wants to reach.
  • Manage and track accountability and progress.

With this information in mind, it is important to determine the knowledge and skills areas that the various training offerings provide. When you understand this you will be able to easily choose the program that best works for your needs and your goals as a future life coach.

Types of Training Programs and Options

There are several different types of training programs and options to consider. Each one has its pros and cons but it will be up to you to determine what type/style of coaching best suits you and your career aspirations.

Targeted vs. General Coaching

There are some training programs that will prepare you for virtually any agenda that a client may have in mind. Others will only deal with a certain issue – for example, career transitions, divorce, etc.

Nonexpert vs. Expert Coaching

Any type of coaching – regardless of if it is directive or expert, requires you to direct your client toward a specific action. A nonexpert or a nondirective approach to coaching is when you “walk with” the client as they make important decisions and coaches.

As an expert coach, you may be quite prescriptive while a nonexpert coaching is thought of as extremely collaborative. For virtually any type of coaching, a nonexpert style will be required. Since a fitness professionally is usually trained in regard to expert guidance, learning to work with clients in a manner that is nondirective can be quite a journey. When selecting a coaching program, be sure to pay attention to if the school is going to rely on formulas or a type of “cookbook” approach, instead of building the main competencies that will allow you to work in a flexible manner in regard to a particular client’s needs.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Focus

In a number of situations, especially when the coaching is going to be targeted for a particular transition or change in a person’s life, the coaching may be brief. However, there are other situations where it will be wider and longer in scope. It is a good idea to take short courses after you have completed a lengthier training process. The fact is, there is no way you can master the practice of being a life coach in just a few days – this is unrealistic.

It is essential that you be willing to dedicate time and effort to your training in order to become an effective and successful life coach.

Self-Study vs. Face-to-Face vs. Teleclass Delivery

Most coach training is done over the phone, through the use of teleconference classes. There are also in-person residential programs available, but typically at a higher cost. The third option for course delivery is self-study. This is where a student is given a text and will likely use CDs and DVDs to assist with comprehension of the materials. There are some life coaching schools that advocate for phone coaching for clients. However, this does not mean that this is the best way to receive training. For example, while a lecture may work in this manner, discussions can be quite difficult unless the class is quite small – no more than five or six students.

You should think about how you will learn best. If you learn by listening to lectures and using limited discussions, then a teleclass would likely work best for you. If you want to see the other people you will be learning with, then a live seminar may be the best educational option.

Self-Monitoring vs. Supervision

When personal supervision is used, it is often referred to as mentor coaching. Self-monitoring is when you progress on your own in regard to practical applications. It is essential that you determine how the school will evaluate your overall ability to be a life coach. Consider the following to determine this:

  • What opportunities are present for role playing activities?
  • Are there any opportunities for mentoring sessions?
  • Is there a senior individual who will review the work you do or listen to live coaching conversations you have?

In many cases, one-on-one supervision will be the best way to ensure the necessary skills are gained; however, this will cost more. All humans have blind spots, which means it is essential to take action to ensure these are compensated for. In many cases, you may miss something you need to know and understand.

Accredited vs. Nonaccredited School

A professional coach organization, which includes the ICF, will have set standards for and also evaluate various schools that offer any type of life coaching program. When a company is hiring a life coach, they are going to seek out certifications from some type of professional coaching organization. They will also look at where the person attended school or received their training. This is a good indication of their level of understanding and ability when it comes to life coaching.

Creating a List and Making Contact

It is a good idea to make a list of potential training programs that will work for your training needs. Once this list is created, be sure to make personal contact with the school representatives. While you may be able to find out quite a bit online about the school or program, there is no substitute for one-on-one contact with the school. This can happen through the use of group information sessions, phone conversations and more. It is a good idea to take advantage of any resource possible.

When you are preparing to meet with a representative from one of the schools or training programs being considered, the following questions may help you learn everything you need to know about the program. The questions to consider asking include:

  • What features of components of the program can help make your decision easier?
  • What is considered the high point of the training?
  • Are there program-specific challenges that many students encounter?
  • How can the certification be used after graduation or completion?
  • What is the level of support given to students while the program is going on in regard to beginning their own business? How is this structured?
  • What portion of the program is focused on helping you learn business development and marketing?
  • What level of interaction is present between the coaches and those in training during the actual coaching program?
  • Will the program provide specific training for niche markets? If so, what markets are these and how is training delivered?
  • How is the program able to fulfill the coach/mentor component? Is this included or will the person in training expect to hire someone?
  • What support options are offered to students?
  • Is there any support provided after the program is complete?
  • Is there an active community of graduates? Do they have a way to connect?
  • Is there any continuing support or educational programs offered to the graduates?

Once you have found the program that suits your needs, it is important to find out other specifics including how long it lasts, the cost and other fundamentals. There are no “wrong” courses but you should try to find one that is highly respected. This will help ensure that once you complete the course, you will be able to find a job that suits your career goals. This will pay off in the long run and help you find the job you want, regardless of if it is a life coach for individual clients, or working for a larger company.

The Bottom Line

There are more than a few factors that must be considered when searching for a life coaching program. Take some time to make sure the program, training or school selected is going to be able to match your goals and aspirations for a future career. In most cases, speaking with others who have already completed a program can be beneficial. Take some time to research and really consider what you want your career path to look for. When it comes to being a life coach, there are a number of factors that must be considered carefully. Failure to do this may not allow you to be fully prepared for the career that you have chosen.