If you’re feeling confused you are not alone. The Coaching industry is booming right now but it is unregulated – anyone can call themselves a Coach – you can even swap your Tesco Clubcard points for a Coaching Diploma! (I’m not joking – but I really wish I was)  

Investing in a Coach can be a big financial. emotional and time commitment, getting it wrong would be at best a waste of money, at worst psychologically damaging, so here are my 5 tips to gather the information you need to make this important decision: 

1.     Check if they are a member of one of the three main industry bodies – the International Coaching Federation, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council or the Association of Coaching. Membership of one of these bodies means the Coach is required to comply with their code of ethics and this gives you a base level of integrity. 


2.     Find out if they are personally accredited by one of these organisations and check whether it’s up to date. eg the ICF requires Coaches to renew their accreditation every 3 years. This accreditation shows they have demonstrated specific standards and requirements designed to develop and refine coaching skills and they are committed to ethical practice. Bear in mind, some of the best coaches out there do not have personal accreditation but they still practice ethically and are often highly endorsed so it’s worth asking the Coach the what, the how and the why regarding their chosen path of training. 


3.     Get Stalking! Google them. Check out their website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Linkedin is particularly insightful because the feed on their profile will show their activity on other people’s posts too. Check out what they are commenting on, what they’re passionate about, who is in their network and how they interact with others. Read their testimonials and notice what their clients have gained from working with them – look out for who they’ve worked with, how they’ve added value to the Coachee, what has changed in the Coachee’s life since working with them, and what the experience of working with them was like. Notice how you feel when you read these – are you excited to meet with this Coach? Do you want to spend time with them? What is your gut telling you? 


4.     Clarify their Coaching approach. Is it directive or non-directive? Pure coaching is non-directive and person centred. This means they work on the basis that the Coachee has all the answers within them. It’s the coaching relationship and unique environment created that draws out the “truth” from the Coachee. It’s pretty powerful stuff! But it’s not for everyone. You may want a more directive approach which might involve a coaching model, structured sessions with coaching exercises or sharing of knowledge.The Coach’s approach may be influenced by their personal or professional experience – decide if this is important in your decision, as well as any life experiences that you might want in order to gain trust and rapport eg motherhood, senior management, divorce. 


5.     Try before you buy. Most coaches offer a discovery call before committing to the process. Use this time to assess how you feel in their presence. I believe rapport is the key predictor of a successful coaching experience so if you feel physically uncomfortable or you have anxious thoughts this could be a red flag. On the other hand, if you find yourself opening up and beginning to trust the Coach this could be a green flag. I recommend to potential clients that they speak to two or three other Coaches even if we feel we are the right fit – so they feel as confident as they can about their decision. This gets the relationship off to a flying start and clearly demonstrates my personal and professional integrity.  


Here are some questions I’d advise asking a Coach: 


  • Can you explain to me the difference between Coaching, psychotherapy, teaching and mentoring and how you would describe your approach? 
  • Why did you train to become a Coach, what training have you done and why did you choose that route?
  • What’s the best thing about being a Coach?   
  • Do you have regular Supervision? Can I contact them for a reference? 
  • Do you have any testimonials from clients with similar coaching goals to me? 


Barack Obama said:

“You don’t have to get to 100% certainty on your big decisions, get to 51% and when you get there, be at peace with the fact that you made the decision based on the information you had”

I couldn’t agree more. Coaching can be life changing so don’t delay – my advice is, get the information you need to make the decision with 51% certainty and go for it! 


This article was written by Lucy Higgins, one of our partner coaches.  You can get in touch via her profile page or book a free discovery call with her to find out more about coaching.