By Adele McCormack
Life coaching came into my life while I was going through a divorce. As I trained I started to believe anything was possible as new feelings about different opportunities came into my life; it was exciting, and I thought ‘Yes, this is what I want to do’.
Consequently, I ended up living the life I dreamt of living; a life where I learnt to fly a plane, to run not one, but two marathons, I got promoted at work, I quit smoking and I lost excess weight; all amazing transformations and I’m still experiencing this drive today.
Speaking as someone who knows about the endless possibilities, post-divorce, it’s probably not surprising to know that I now support others going through a divorce. Perhaps more importantly, I help people transform their lives and achieve great personal growth.
My coach training provider required me to attend a residential, and it was there that I first heard about the IIC&PM, now called the International Authority for Professional Coaching & Mentoring; a professional body that accredits coaches and mentors. I immediately applied, and my Accredited Practitioner Coach certification status was granted when I qualified as a coach.
As a social worker, it is mandatory to register with the HCPC in order to practice, so it was natural for me to apply the same professional standards of accreditation to my coaching practice, not least because getting, and retaining my accreditation is further confirmation and endorsement of my hard work.
Being accredited is an integral part of building my coaching business; to be able to say to clients ‘I have been recognised as being a high-standard coach, and my practice is monitored, and here is where you can complain in the unlikely event you are not satisfied’. I believe being able to say that holds me to account, it keeps me on my toes to retain a high standard of coaching, plus it’s a useful differentiator when talking to prospective clients.
During the first session, I have with a client; this differentiator also fuels a powerful conversation in establishing that I am the right coach for them, that I care, and that I am able to guarantee them a high service. Just the other day, I secured a new client, who is himself a qualified solicitor, he expected me to be accredited too and would have questioned the absence of an accreditation on my part.
Credentials to Support clients
So being accredited is helping me to build a pipeline of new business from solicitors, because they know I have the credentials to support their clients, and they trust me. Without this important accreditation, I would not have secured this line of referrals.
Unfortunately, I’ve also had clients say they’ve had bad experiences with other coaches, including a lack of recompense for their troubles. It’s scenarios like these that damage the public perception of our profession. I know clients come to me because my website clearly states who I am accredited with, and what that extra level of assurance provides them. Our clients are buying a product and a service, so deserve to be reassured, as mine are, about the guarantees about the quality of service they can expect to receive from me.
I remember updating my LinkedIn profile to include my trained and accredited coaching status, only to see people I knew who had not done any coaching training, branding themselves as a coach. I invested a lot of time, money and energy into my accreditation, it’s part of my coaching journey, and I’m now an Accredited Senior Coach, yet I know these people have done nothing professionally. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t dream of waking up one day and deciding to declare myself a doctor just because I had correctly diagnosed a headache, so what gives people the right to declare themselves a coach?
When you go to a doctor, you naturally expect the doctor to be trained and registered with the GMC. I doubt you’d be willing to let a doctor treat you without that accreditation status, so why should the coaching industry be any different?
I think this discrepancy lies in the fact that coaching and the general world of therapy tend to work on intangible issues; confidence and self-esteem issues, mental wellbeing, anxiety, depression, and limiting beliefs are not physical ailments. You cannot put a plaster cast on to fix them, so they are difficult to quantify.
On a political front, more attention is finally being placed on the mental wellbeing of our nation. The government is aiming to achieve parity of esteem for mental health because the current cost to the UK economy for work days lost due to mental health sickness is a staggering £70 billion per year. It is also recognised that 1 in 4 people will suffer with their mental wellbeing at some point in their life. This includes stress, low self-esteem, feelings of panic and fatigue. All these scenarios may be symptoms that our clients experience, so as a collective group of coaches, no matter what your niche, we are all working to improve the wellbeing of our clients. Therefore, we are all working with their mental health. The political drivers to achieve better parity of esteem for mental health provision should bring with it a greater level of expectation from the public to have coaches who are not only trained but also accredited. So, if you are not yet accredited, now is the time to do it.
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About Adele McCormack
Adele writes extensively about the importance of accreditation, which she believes is what is needed to establish excellence within our industry. Consequently, she is a volunteer in the IAPC&M. As head of the Professional Standards, Adele dedicates a lot of time to researching the coaching community and exploring what clients want from their coaches. Therefore, she is ideally placed to identify key differentiators between accredited and non-accredited coaches, not least how it is beginning to impact a coach’s ability to do business. This will only intensify in the future because the need for regulation is increasing, and individuals and corporations alike will expect accreditation as the norm, just as they would any other profession. After all, just because you can drive and have driven for years doesn’t mean the DVLA will grant you a license, in the same way just because you’ve been helping people solve their issues for years, does not qualify you to call yourself a coach.
If like Adele you too are passionate about protecting your integrity, and safeguarding your client’s wellbeing, and you value the coaching industry as a profession, then you’ll want to become accredited sooner rather than later.
To find out more see our Professional Standards.