How to Pick The Right Life Coach For You
find the right life coach for you

By Ty Belknap
"Life coach" is a buzzword these days. It seems you can't go 10 minutes without someone talking about how they have been a "life coach" for 20+ years. The sad truth is that 90% of the people who call themselves life coaches simply are not (check out our page "What is a Life Coach?" for more information). So how do you find not only a real life coach, but one that's right for you?

Here is a list to help you out (including some myths)! NEW: Print out a checklist that you can use here.

Assess your needs

{Partly true} Life coaches have different specialties, and one way to find the right life coach is to determine what specialties you are looking for. However, in my experience, most different specialty types of coaching end up being life coaching. Coaching a business owner who is stuck quite often ends up being coaching in different areas of his/her life. However, if you are looking for coaching in a specialty area, you do want to find a life coach that specializes in that area.
But, think of this: The whole point of coaching is not to give you answers but to allow you to unlock the greatness that is already inside yourself. Hiring a coach that has a lot of knowledge in your area may lead to over-familiarization, which may not help.

Look for Life Coaching credentials

(I am jumping up and down with this one). This is the most important item to check. What credentials does the potential life coach have? Do not trust "I have been doing this for 20+ years" because most people didn't know about life coaching 20 years ago. And, even if they have, doing something wrong for 20+ years is still doing it wrong.
Check their credentials. Do they have any college degrees? More colleges are offering coaching classes and degrees, and these classes are usually taught by professional coaches (if the college is accredited, you can be reasonably assured that the teachers are professionals). With which organization did they get their certificate? This is very important, there are many organizations offering coaching certificates these days, and some of them are ridiculous. I recently saw an organization that offered a coaching certificate just for watching 3 Online videos.
It is organizations like that which make life coaches look bad. It took me 170 college-credit hours, plus much more, to get my first certificate from the International Coach Federation (which I would say is the best organization any coach could have a certificate in). So a certificate may not mean much unless you know where it came from.

Use a referral service

Most coach certification organizations have a referral service. This is a good idea if you are looking for a coach from a specific agency. However, do not use sites like Thumbtack as a referral service (see next point on this). Go straight to the organization's web site, such as John Maxwell or ICF, to get referrals.

Look for reviews

Although places like Thumbtack may not be good for referrals, they are good for reviews. Also check Angie's List, Yelp, Google Maps, etc. for reviews of the person/company you are looking at. Many web sites (like this one) have testimonials on the site, but they can be faked. See if you can find an independent place for reviews.

Get referrals

Friends and family may be a good place to get referrals. I personally don't like to get referrals from Facebook public posts because every person will chime in and they all have a different answer, but if it works for you, go for it.

Schedule an interview or first session

Your personality is different from other people, and the personalities of life coaches are too. For instance, I have a very laid-back personality. I work well with several types of people because they lead hectic lives and like to have that atmosphere for a while. However, I have also met people that expect their life coaches to be like football coaches; intense and aggressive. And that's great. Scheduling a first session will let you know if they life coach has a personality that will work well with you.

Budget

Don't base coaching only on budget. Seriously. If you need brain surgery, would you hire a first year intern? That is not to say you should hire a master life coach at $700-$7000 per hour if that will put you into a bunch of debt, but any life coach that charges $25 per hour is either: A; inexperienced or B; incompetent. A skilled life coach is well worth their time. To determine skill assess all of the above. And remember, most coaching sessions are 30-60 minutes once every two weeks, so a life coach that charges $150 per hour may only cost $150 per month.
(On a personal note, I like all of my coachees, they are awesome people. But they are not paying me to be their friend so my sessions are only 30-50 minutes, and most of my coaching sessions are over video-conferencing like Skype. My clients like to get coached and get on with their day quickly. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to provide coaching over the telephone, in my office, or even at local coffee shops, whatever is most comfortable for you.)

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