Common Coaching Concerns
“The benefits of coaching appear to win over even the most cynical clients within just a few weeks.” – Industry Week
Not everyone’s a fan of life coaching, you know.Don’t worry, I won’t take offense if you might have a couple of concerns yourself. That’s why I wanted to write an article specifically addressing some common concerns regarding life coaching in general. I want to address such concerns head on.
I like to call these the Common Coaching Concerns, or the CCC’s, and there are certainly a couple out there. Let’s take a look at 5 of them below.
1. Life coaching is not as good as counseling.
While most people are familiar with traditional counseling and mental health therapy, few are familiar with life coaching, and comparing the two is not always easy. One thing you have to realize here is that comparing counseling with coaching is much like comparing apples to oranges. To extend the analogy, they’re both fruit (meaning they have similarities), but they also taste completely different (meaning they’re also very different from one another).
Take a quick look at three such differences between these worthwhile professions: in general, life coaching is focused on the future, whereas counseling is focused more on one’s past. Life coaching is also more action-oriented and focuses around goals, change, and results for the client, while counseling is focused more on inner healing and helping people move past psychological barriers and disorders. Lastly, life coaches give you the freedom on how you want to structure any given session, as well as the communication that follows; counselors often have a process or psychological model that they lead clients through on the road to overcoming trauma, mental illness, and addictions.
While the two professions certainly have a lot of overlap, especially in the psychological arena, they are two distinctly different professions, and each individual has to decide which is right for themselves.
2. Life coaches aren’t licensed.
That is true. And that’s why professional coaches take it upon ourselves to become educated in proper life coaching methods, as well as becoming credentialed with the International Coach Federation (ICF), the professional body that trains and certifies professional life coaches.
But the truth is, there are a LOT of amateur coaches out there, and they often don’t represent life coaching in the best light, reducing the credibility of life coaching as a legitimate profession. Fortunately, there are easy ways to distinguish the large number of amateur coaches from the smaller number of professional ones.
3. Coaching is expensive.
Well, not comparatively, at least. The standard cost per session for traditional counseling services in the U.S. usually average $150 or more. Compared to traditional therapy, life coaching provides an exceptional value. In addition, keep in mind that some professional coaches include emergency coaching via email in between sessions, just in case you need it.
For some hard numbers on the return on investment that coaching provides, coaching has been shown to increase productivity by 30% in just the first year, and yields a return on investment of almost six times its cost (2002 Leadership Development Study by Michael Woods, MD, and Welyne Thomas, Ph.D., and Business Wire).
So even though life coaching isn’t cheap, it’s safe to say that the investment pays off.
4. Coaching is only for those who can’t solve problems on their own.
“Coaching works because people learn by doing what they would have done anyway – just smarter, faster, better, and with support and feedback.” – Consulting Today
Another common myth about life coaching is that people who seek it out are somehow “failures” in life, or are people who simply can’t make it on their own. These types of perceptions start to fade away when you realize that people seek out coaching for a number of reasons: to reduce the amount of stress in their life, to help them through a relationship crisis, or even to help with troubles at work. Life coaching helps with those everyday, common situations that we all go through, and while I might concede that people without problems might not need a coach at the moment, I have yet to find a person who is completely problem-free.
I would also argue that there isn’t a person in this world who doesn’t have some sort of support mechanism that has helped them achieve their goals and dreams. A parent encouraging their child to go to college and succeed, or a spouse supporting their husband in a new business venture, or a valued mentor and friend who will always be there no matter what – no matter who you are, we all have support systems of some kind. And for those of us who don’t, that is simply one more reason to get a coach and add a support mechanism to your team right now.
5. Coaching is a waste of time.
If there is one Common Coaching Concern that is the easiest to dispel, it would be this one. Ever heard of the phrase “location, location, location?” For life coaches, it’s more like “results, results, results.”
The International Coach Federation (ICF) conducted a survey of thousands of clients after they received coaching. The results? 99% of those surveyed reported that it was helpful for them, with 95% of those reporting that it was very helpful for them. In all, 96% reported that they would engage in coaching services again (ICF 2009 Global Coaching Client Study).
Even corporations see the value that coaching provides. Just ask Nike, Ford, IBM, Campbell’s, UPS, and even NASA, along with many other Fortune 500 companies, what they think of coaching, since they’ve all been utilizing it for years.
There is no doubt that change takes time, and it will take time. And energy. And motivation. But if you’ve been trying the same old things over and over again, and you’re still in the same place, you might want to look into life coaching. It will probably be the best investment you could ever make.