I occasionally get asked by friends what to look for when picking a Life Coach to work with. Obviously I would never coach a friend of family member. I wouldn't even be too keen on coaching somebody I knew vaguely, although this can be yield great results if done carefully and I don't have too much personal information about the client beforehand.
As Life Coaching hits the main stream and more people are starting to see the huge advantages of working with their own Life Counselor I thought I would take the time to give you some tips on how to choose a Life Counselor that you will help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in your life.
1. Experience - I know it's a downer for anybody just embarking on a career as a Life Coach, but experience pretty much trumps any other metric you care to mention. Great Life Coaches are NOT born, they are made. And they are made by being exposed to all sorts of different client problems and situations and the having to deal with them. If you want somebody to earn their wings whilst working on you, that's cool, but personally I wouldn't want to work with a Life Counselor that had less than 1,000 hours of client work and closer to 5,000 would be advisable.
2. Training- Not far behind experience is training. The reason why I think experience is more important is because with the best will in the world any training can only be of the 'ideal world' variety and unfortunately Life counseling seldom happens in an ideal world. Training is very cool for getting the basics down, but no amount of training will make up for doing the work with clients
3. Listening & Questioning ability - If you are speaking with a perspective Life Coach and you can't get a word in edgeways, run a mile! Equally, if he or she seems incapable of asking you an intelligent or thought provoking do not hire them. Questioning and then listening is at the core of great Life counseling and if either are missing then it will probably be a frustrating experience for the client.
4. Ongoing Training - Initial training is cool, ongoing training way cooler. Further education demonstrates a desire to keep improving and learning new skill sets. Just like you wouldn't want a doctor that qualified in 1970 and hasn't looked at a medical book since, you don't want a Life Coach that thinks they know all they have to know.
5. Credibility - This is somewhat tied in to experience part, but goes further than that. Does the Life Coach also do public speaking? Do they write a blog? Have they have books or papers published? Are they seen as an expert in their field? None of this is paramount but it certainly helps ease any worries you may have.
6. Do you like them? - Seriously, this seems like a no-brainer, but it isn't. I have spoken with a number of clients that had worked with Life Coaches who they didn't even like! Life Coaching is a close working relationship and you need to like as well as respect your coach if you want to get the most out of the whole process.
Whereas I can't guarantee Life counseling will be brilliant for you, I can guarantee that if you follow these guidelines there is an exponentially greater probability. Good luck!