Does a Life Coach Have to Have A Life?

A couple of weeks ago the NY Times published an article with the provocative title “Does a life coach have to have a life?”

The lead story was about a 30 something unemployed actress who set herself up as a life coach. She now has a thriving business where she charges $125 an hour. The article sparked lively responses including mine below.

As a psychologist and executive coach who has practiced for nearly 25 years there are two words I have about this discussion.

Quality Control

Anyone can listen to some degree and dish out advice that is aligned with pop mysticism. However, do they:

1. Have knowledge and skills in behavior change (based both on good science and best practices of expert coaches)?

2. Deeply understand the world of their clients (which comes from empathy skills and deep life experience)?

3. Have supervision and direct feedback on an ongoing basis (or do they just keep repeating the same mistakes)?

4. Have a self-knowledge and self regulation not to get dragged into the emotional morass of the client?

5. Have wisdom and experience not to practice outside of their area of competence?

6. See real lasting change in their clients as a result of their service.

7. Have the training (academic and practical) that qualifies them to offer the service?

8. Comply with a set of ethical standards (e.g. confidentiality) similar to the ones that guide my practice as a psychologist?

I have dozens of other questions but this is just a start. Although age could be a factor the focus needs to be on the quality of the service.

What do you think?

Also you might want to read my posting “What is Executive Coaching?”

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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