If you’re thinking about entering the field of life coaching, you’ve probably discovered that there are many possible pathways to achieve that goal. But how do you choose the one that’s right for you?
The fact is that you don’t need any special training or licensure to become a life coach. But if that’s the case, why does anyone invest in an ICF accredited coach certification program?
It comes down to impact.
The best life coaches out there deliver consistent, meaningful results for their clients. To do so requires a strong grasp of how people learn, create, grow and change.
While we've all experienced growth and evolution in our own lives, translating that into a workable process for others is both an art and a science. Change theory is not something most of us just "know," but it can be taught!
In Lumia's coach training program, we draw upon the field of positive psychology to help our life coaching students better understand the workings of the human mind. And because each client is unique, we provide a wide range of evidence-based frameworks to use in your coaching practice.
As a professional coach, we believe it’s also important for you to have a clear understanding of your scope of practice. Untrained life coaches are more likely to unintentionally blur the lines between advising, mentoring and actually coaching others.
For anyone who’s thinking about becoming a coach, it’s important to know both what coaching is… as well as what it ISN’T!
What Does A Coach Do?
Life coaches create the conditions necessary for clients to access - and trust - their own innate wisdom. It’s an active process that involves a combination of space-holding techniques and positive psychology tools.
More than just “listening and asking good questions,” coaching is a strategic thinking partnership.
Here's the deal: coaching is not about giving advice or healing emotional wounds. There are a number of other professional disciplines that are far better suited to meet those needs. Knowing when and how to refer a client out for additional resources outside your scope of practice is a valuable coaching skill.
(For more education on this topic, check out: What's the Difference Between Counseling, Therapy and Life Coaching?)
A reputable life coach certification program will provide you with guidance on what effective coaching is, and how to do it. You’ll learn a variety of frameworks, interventions, methodologies and coaching techniques to help get you started. You'll also receive ample peer coaching opportunities to solidify your learning by putting it into practice.
With that said, not every training program is equal. Some are accredited by the International Coaching Federation, and offer a pathway to ICF credentialing. Others don’t. Both have their place, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The important thing is to know which route YOU want to take, and why!
What is ICF Certification in life coaching?
The ICF or International Coach Federation is a professional, non-profit organization dedicated to the field of coaching. It sets global standards to ensure that all the coaching programs they accredit meet a high level of quality.
The goal of the ICF is to establish a consistent definition of what coaching is, and to train exceptional coaches across all coaching specialties and disciplines. The ICF also maintains an ethical code of conduct for life coaches.
Do you have to be ICF certified to be a life coach?
No. You can practice as a coach without ICF certification.
Is it important to be ICF certified?
While it may not be necessary for your path as a coach, we offer this level of training through the Lumia Signature Life Coach Training program because we’ve seen how the ICF curriculum and credentialing opens doors, provides deeper insights, and boosts the confidence of our life coaching students.
In our experience, there are four major reasons people choose to pursue ICF Coach Certification. Let's take a look at each of them!
Why Become An ICF Certified Life Coach?
#1 To better serve your clients
Mastery of any skill or profession requires dedicated study, hours of practice, and constructive feedback.
To achieve life coaching mastery, especially within the framework of professional ICF coach certification, means you'll need to absorb and understand core coaching competencies at a much higher level than a short coach certification program is likely to provide.
The pathway to become a certified ICF coach is rigorous, and also rewarding. Along the way, you’ll dive deep into coaching standards, competencies and ethics. You’ll receive professional coach mentoring, and receive feedback on your coaching skills.
All this extra attention to skill building and honing your craft adds up to a better experience for your clients. And satisfied clients lead to referrals, testimonials, and success for your life coaching business!
#2 To access opportunities
The most common reason to become a certified ICF coach is to open doors that are only available to those with this credential.
Life coaching is still an emerging field, the ICF is the closest thing the coaching profession has to a governing body. Therefore, many employers and corporate clients require an ICF credential in order for a coach to be considered for certain roles. Many ICF Members report that they were chosen for coaching jobs above other applicants explicitly because of their ICF credentials.
If you are considering working with business clients, this is particularly relevant. Larger companies often have a sophisticated understanding of the coaching industry. They contract with coaches for their executive teams, managers, and to provide corporate training. Many companies are aware of the International Coaching Federation, and require that the coaches they work with in the aforementioned roles be ICF credentialed.
#3 For personal development
Part of the joy of gaining coaching mastery is seeing the difference it makes in our own lives. Participating in life coach training programs does far more than add to our professional skill set. For many people, the process of becoming a certified ICF coach is itself a life-changing experience!
Life coaching skills increase our self awareness, and can positively influence all our relationships. It makes us better partners and parents, and gives us the tools and techniques to bring more of our authentic self to every part of our lives.
If you’re on the fence about getting a life coach certificate, know that investing in yourself is always a good bet. The skills and knowledge you’ll gain from the ICF certification process are likely to pay off down the road in ways you can’t fully imagine today.
#4 To work with a certain client
For many people, an MBA is necessary to apply for certain jobs. Similarly, if you know your coaching path will be intersecting with the business world, getting your ICF credentials makes good sense.
For life coaches who want to work in the corporate realm, offer training programs, or serve executives, the matter of ICF credentialing is likely to come up. This is not necessarily the case if your coaching practice is focused more on serving individual coaching clients, although that too may be changing as consumers become more savvy.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, coaching is an unregulated profession. There are many coaches practicing without training or credentials. Too often, coaching techniques are based on pop-psychology, or cult of personality. As consumers have unsatisfying experiences, they naturally become more discerning about who to hire.
In this sense, the ICF credential serves as a "seal of approval" for your propsective clients. It demonstrates that you've invested in professional training, adhere to a clear set of standards and ethics, and are part of a larger global movement to professionalize the field of coaching.
As the life coaching industry continues to grow, coaches will need to differentiate themselves. Depending upon the type of client you intend to serve, ICF credentials may be one way to really set yourself apart.
If you're thinking about doing coach training but aren't sure which program to choose, check out this resource: 7 Things To Look For In A Life Coach Training Program.
Ready to Get ICF Certified?
Coaching is a rapidly growing field that is continuously evolving. Even for seasoned coaches, there’s always more to discover. If you're looking to step up your game, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited coach training features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a collective force for good.