How to find a good coach training program

Given the explosive growth of Professional Coaching you will find many coach training programs. Here’s a list of five things to look for when choosing a good training program:

1. A good training program teaches coaching

This may appear obvious, but just as anyone call him or herself a coach, anyone can call their training program “coaching training.” In fact, many non-coaches are providing non-coach training, passing along their style of misguided “coaching.” Look for a clear definition of coaching as distinct from other helping modalities. In other words, if your potential training provider cannot clearly explain to you how their coach training differs from other kinds of training, then that’s a red flag and you should look elsewhere.

Also be sure that your potential training provider is not simply following a fad or using a marketing device by calling their technique “coaching.” Investigate to find if they are teaching a model of coaching that applies the skills and principles described in the core coaching competencies described by the International Coach Federation (ICF) on their website.

2. A good training program provides practicum and mentoring

Training requires doing — not just reading and listening to lectures. Be sure your training program provides you with an adequate opportunity to practice and apply the skills you’ve learned. Most often you will practice your skills with fellow trainees.

Additionally, your training program may encourage or facilitate a “Buddy Coach” relationship for additional practice. A dyad is great, but a triad is even better as the observer can provide more input and feedback.

In addition to experiences with your peers, be sure that your potential training provider gives you the opportunity to observe, be evaluated, and experience coaching with a skilled mentor coach. This might be the instructor, but most often this will be with former graduates who assist with the training. It’s important that you work with other professional coaches, who can inspire you with examples of how skilled coaches go beyond the mechanics and clearly demonstrate and teach the “art” of coaching.

3. A good training program provides certification

Ensure that your potential training provider offers an internal certification. If you are seeking additional ICF certification, ensure that the training you receive will meet ICF certification requirements.

To be meaningful, the certification that you earn must include supervision and evaluation of your competent work with real clients. A “certificate of completion” can be compared to sitting through traffic school and passing a written test, and is meaningless for inferring skills acquisition or competence as a coach.

One question that you might ask is, simply, “Do I need certification?” The answer is… maybe!

You might already have plenty of credentials and letters after your name, and potential clients generally don’t ask you to prove your qualifications unless you don’t appear to have any. As such, if you have a lot of other credentials, certification may not be essential for you; not like coach training (which is essential).

However, obtaining coaching certification can indeed assist you to become a highly skilled and accomplished coach and demonstrate your commitment to a high standard of professional coaching to your prospective clients. This is helpful in many ways, including marketing.

4. A good training program prepares you to practice

It’s (unfortunately) common for training providers to focus on skills and strategies for helping your clients “in theory,” but leave you clueless as to how it all applies in the “real world.” Your potential training provider should help you establish things like an intake and assessment process, templates for client forms and contracts, examples of fee structures and service delivery systems, and so on. While these may seem like the less glamorous aspects of coaching (compared to actually working with people who need help), they are essential for operating a successful practice. If your potential training provider isn’t supporting you with this learning, you will likely not succeed, even if you’re a fabulous coach.

5. A good training program helps you get clients

You cannot change the world, help a person, or even make a living if you can’t get clients. The leaders and staff of your potential training program should have ample experience marketing their services and building a successful practice in the real world, and should pass along their knowledge and strategies to you.

At Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI) this is a top priority of ours and we provide a 12-week comprehensive practice-building program to all participants, as well as models for conducting promotional seminars, classes, workshops, listing graduates on our website, publishing newsletters for the public featuring our graduates, and providing referrals from our newsletter subscribers and website visitors, and numerous other ways of helping our graduates get clients.

Frankly, while we don’t expect many other programs to match RCI in this manner, we would still urge you to choose a training program that pays attention to the practical, real-world business side of being a coach – that is, one that helps you get clients and build a successful practice.

Being a Professional Coach is a fulfilling way to make a good living as well as make a positive difference in the world. If you enjoy helping others and find that your friends and family often come to you to talk about their problems, you’re probably a good fit for this growing profession.