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Can You Trust Coaching Certifications?

How do you know whether your coach is qualified to help you? Should you trust their certification? It is important to realize that just because a coach says they are certified in life, carrer, or any other kind of personal coaching, you should not immediately trust him or her.

In most countries, the United States included, there is no official or governmental licensing body for governing coaching of any sort. While the lack of government involvement in coaching certification is probably a good thing, the result is that some life coaching certification entities are far more trustworthy, rigorous, and reliable than others. Here are a few questions you should ask when determining how reliable a coaching company is:

Does the Certification Entity Offer Coaching Services?

This is a huge red flag. The companies that certify coaches while also providing coaching services to consumers tend to be more interested in making money wherever they can than in providing worthwhile services. While there are some exceptions, the majority of these companies created overly-simplistic certifications to facilitate the hiring of inexperienced and untrained coaches. The companies give them the easy test, and can then promote their 

Does the Certification Entity Offer Training?

While much more common, it should make the consumer wary when a coaching certification company is also selling training to pass their own tests. It is difficult to remain objective as to the true needs of a coach when coaching curriculum and testing questions become intertwined. Some companies target low-budget markets, while others target high-end services. Because companies teach to their own tests, the result is a huge disparity in the difficulty of the certification exam and quality of training provided. 

Does the Certification Entity Have Ties to Other Companies?

Either of the above conflicts may arrise if the certification company has ties to a coaching or training company. Ask whether they pay coaching companies for referring newly-certified coaches, or (more commonly) whether they pay for referrals from training agencies.

Is the Certification Entity Registered With the BBB? What is their rating?

The Better Business Bureau, contrary to what some believe, is also not a government agency. They do, however, offer one of the most reliable ways for consumers to provide feedback on an agency. The BBB reports that there were only nine complaints last year for the small industry of life coaching, and only 4158 for the larger industry of business coaching. 91% of these disputes were resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. (source)

Certificiations help in convincing customers that they can trust you and your expertise, however care should be taken to get a certificate that is legitimate and worth the money. When you claim to be certified by a body, you can bet that many customers will do at least some research into the certifying agency - coaches should, therefore, be very thorough and considerate in their research.


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