If you’ve decided to hire a life coach, do your homework to avoid wasting $500 to $1,000 a month on a quack. Here’s how:
- Ask people you trust for referrals.
- Check out the credentialing groups. The International Coach Federation (www.coachfederation.org) boasts 6,000 members; four times the number as it claimed when the recession started three years ago. “Coach U” (www.coachinc.com/CoachU) says it has trained 10,000 coaches and, like ICF, offers an online search engine.
- Link to your coach choices’ individual Web sites to see if your philosophies, styles and personalities line up.
- Judge your finalists at least partly on their credentials. ICF guidelines call for at least 60 hours of university study and 250 hours of client experience to rate as an “associate”; 200 hours of study and 2,500 hours of experience for “master”certification. Some coaches double as psychotherapists, requiring separate credentials. But if you go this route, make sure the counselor has the coaching end nailed down so you can focus on the future more than the past.
- Search for chemistry. Since coaching typically happens by phone, the “fit” needs to be nearly perfect.
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