Lately you might have noticed a lot of emphasis being put on Life Coaching on the internet and in the media. As a result of this growing industry a lot of people are trying to jump on the bandwagon in order to capture business opportunities, which are causing confusion, creating misunderstandings and quite frankly more times than not,  misrepresenting the opportunities of Coaching. Lately even big names within leadership are using the word “Coaching” in order to draw in consumers.

Not everyone who says they are a coach or advertises their webcast, DVDs or books as “Coaching” is  actually coaching.




The International Coaching Federation (ICF) of which ANY true coach you hire should be a member of and either certified or working on certification through, defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaching is a cohesive set of principles, knowledge and skills that a coach utilizes to draw the best from their clients.

One key word that should be focused on is “PARTNERING.” Whether one-on-one or within a group, if true coaching is taking place there will be personal interaction between the coach and client. A person can read about coaching, he or she can study, listen to CD’s or webinars about coaching techniques that have worked for others. But if a person is coached there must be personal interaction.

To help understand why so many are confused about what coaching is let’s look at a few brief definitions of Consulting, Teaching, and Counseling.



 The Webster definition states consulting is, “providing professional or expert advice.” Consulting is mostly characterized by the professional giving advice vice drawing out of a client his or her dreams and abilities. On BusinessDictionary.com the basic definition states consulting as, “The providing of expert knowledge to a third party for a fee. Consulting is most often used when a company needs an outside, expert opinion regarding a business decision.” Even so, consulting has drifted out into personal growth in people’s personal life challenges as well.



Webster defines counseling as, “professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes.” Counseling focuses on a person’s past and on healing some sort of emotional pain or conflict looking deep into the person’s past.



 Definition, “the act, practice, or profession of a teacher; something taught.” Teaching is primarily a one way interaction where a person that knows something shows the student how to do something or gives some piece of information that they know. The biggest difference is that teaching is about the teacher and coaching is about the student.



Coaching starts with a person who wants to change or achieve something. A specific goal or outcome is defined by the client prior to each session. Through strategic inquiry the coach will ask “how?”and “What?” type questions. You will not hear “Why” often in coaching because it allows the client to stay in the problem vice moving into the future. The coach is responsible for the process and the client is responsible for the results.

The most important aspect of coaching is that the client discovers his or her own solutions and with the help of the coach, develops a plan for success. This gives ownership of the solution to the client. Additionally who knows what works and what doesn’t best? The client of course! When a person develops their own path to success he or she is more likely to stick with the plan and enjoy success.



The confusion with coaching is that many experts think to themselves, “Hey, I am good at what I do. I have helped a lot of people and make a good living in my profession. I should go into coaching!” They open up a website; buy some business cards and Abracadabra! They are a coach!  They may have the best intentions in the world and can provide a resume on steroids, but if he or she does not understand what coaching is in its purist form, they are misrepresenting the field.

What takes a confused expert to a valuable coach? Training!




Another piece of coaching is proper training for certification. A Life Skills coach that you pay your hard earned money to should be trained and/or certified through the ICF. Why? Unless a person actually goes through true Coaching Training he or she does not totally understand the concept or the techniques that are going to benefit you, the client.

 Many Leadership experts, HR Executives, Professors, Business professionals, Health experts and other successful individuals in their perspective industry are breaking out websites and businesses calling themselves coaches. These people are very smart and know their stuff, but are not coaches. The HR person is more than likely mentoring their clients, the Business professional is really consulting and the Health professionals are training or teaching. How do I know this? I learned this going through my own certification process.

 My certification course at the University of Texas was filled with professional business experts, HR Executives and other professionals in various fields. There was even one person who was a manager of a company that offers Coaching to businesses, but had never actually coached. Everyone, without exception was humbled as the Professors began to unfold the coaching techniques needed in order to be certified, including myself. I am talking Vice Presidents of large companies and Consultants who traveled the world to Fortune 500 companies were blown out of the water!

 There are several avenues a coach can travel toward certification. There are Coaching training institutions created specifically for certification. There is classroom as well as on-line opportunities. As I mentioned previously I chose the University of Dallas for my certification because the education has the opportunity to go toward another Masters degree in the field. Cost for certification ranges anywhere between $6000 to more than $10,000. Length of training differs as well with course lengths being anywhere from 6 months to a year.

 The process of certification is long because students are required to coach as they go. Prior to certification coaches are required to acquire required amounts of hours of paid coaching sessions. This is why IT IS OKAY TO HIRE A COACH IN TRAINING! Coaches in the certification process are great opportunities because they are fresh on the right techniques and often offer discounted rates in order to obtain the necessary hours of paid sessions for certification.

 Cost for hiring a coach has a huge range. Personally I have seen fees that range from $25 all the way to as much as $500 for a fifty minute session (I am sure there are some that cost even more, I just haven’t seen them). Specialty coaches who require some type of specialization experiences often cost more than general life coaches due to their uniqueness.



  • There is one-on-one coaching as well as group
  • Coaching can take place via TeleSessions, Skype or through Office visits
  • Ensure you feel comfortable with your coach & that personalities match
  • Be ready to work…Coaching is not magic. If you are not willing to work you are wasting your time and money
  • Your coach should be certified or in the process of being ICF Certified. Ask!
  • Coaches will ask a lot of questions and stimulate thought
  • The number of visits varies on the client’s needs and/or desires. Remember though, it takes time to change and achieve goals. If you are not willing to attend at a minimum of 4 sessions (for specialty fields I recommend 12) you might not be ready for coaching. Talk to your coach about your specific desires.




Coaching is a growing industry quite simply because it works. The caution for the consumer is that if they do not educate themselves they could get taken to the bank. There are quite of few non-coaches calling themselves coaches who are not doing it in the spirit of deception, but out of uneducated ignorance. That is why it is up to clients to know what to look for.

More questions about coaching? Send them my way below and I will be glad to address them for you! Here’s to reaching your goals!

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