Something has been bothering me for quite some time and I felt compelled to write about it here and share it with you.
I have a problem when I read or hear about other helping professionals, who are not trained Coaches, using the term ‘Coach’ as part of their professional title. I know that I may be ruffling some feathers writing about this, and at the same time I really do believe it is important for me to share my views that I feel will benefit both the clients I and other professionals serve and the helping profession, as a whole.
I very much value the professional training that I received to become a Professional Certified Coach at The Academy for Family Coach Training headed by Diana Sterling. I already had my Masters Degree in Social Work, as well as my Social Work License and was working in the field of Social Work for seven years before enrolling in my coaching course. And in all my years of studying the field of psychology (which began in undergraduate school) and then social work in graduate school, I always knew that I wanted to work with individuals, groups, and families. However, I also felt that something was lacking in my training in terms of how I wanted to help and serve those I wanted to work with. While both my undergraduate and graduate programs were excellent for instilling in me a thorough overview of various approaches, theories, and applications for therapy, clinical and group work, I always felt that something was lacking in my training that was holding me back from fully launching my private career.
It was not until I learned the principals and specific techniques of professional coaching that I finally felt I had found an approach and framework within which I felt comfortable and ready to launch my personal business in helping individuals and groups in the way that I have always wanted to.
Coaching has become a popular term and trend these days and other professionals have admitted to me that they add ‘Coach’ to their title in order to attract clients. But ‘Coaching’ is not just a trend and a term. It is a specific approach and theory of practice just as any other approach is. It has a set of guidelines, principals, and code of ethics to follow to help the professional guide the client in their personal growth and success in life.
To call oneself a ‘Coach’ when one does not have professional training or certification in how to be a professional coach is irresponsible and inauthentic to both the field of helping professionals and to the clients we wish to serve.
I believe it is important to be honest and authentic with our clients at all times. We should be open about who we are, what our training is, what we believe, what our approach is and how we believe we can help those we aim to serve. Calling ourselves, or giving ourselves a title of something that we are not, negatively affects our own integrity and credibility and that of the helping professional field, as a whole. And it is unfair to those we want to help and serve.
My Recommendations for Helping Professionals:
If you are a helping professional and interested in the field of coaching or calling yourself a coach, I highly recommend you look into professional coach training programs before adding ‘Coach’ to your title. Learn and understand what the guidelines, principals, code of ethics, and approach of coaching is. It is specific and distinct from therapy. I was taught in my coach training to not mix the two (therapy and coaching) when working with clients. They are two distinct approaches that serve equally important purposes depending on what the client requires. (I prefer and apply a coaching approach in my work and am upfront and open about that with my clients from the very beginning. I, therefore, recommend and refer my clients to therapists or other helping professionals when that is what they require.)
My Recommendations for those Seeking Professional Support and Guidance:
You are the consumer. Become aware of and educated in the various approaches and theories of practice that are available. Do your research and ask good questions of yourself and others. Here are some guiding questions that may help you:
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is the difference between therapy, coaching, consulting, and mentoring?
- What kind of support do I feel I require at this time?
- Whom do others recommend and why?
Questions you can ask a helping professional:
- How did you get into this field?
- What is your training in?
- What do you enjoy about it?
- What is your approach? How does it work? How will you apply it to helping me?
The more aware and educated you are, the more likely you are to make a better choice for yourself (which will also lead to you having more success in you reaching your goals with anyone you choose to work with.)
If you have any questions about the various approaches available, I am happy to answer them. I will do my best to answer your questions based on my own personal and professional experience and will refer you to other resources to help you answer your questions about approaches I am less familiar with.
You can leave your question or comment here, or email me privately, as well.
Have an incredible day and week!
In support and admiration,