The rise of coaching is not surprising. We are all intimately familiar with the accelerating pace of life, increasing complexity of problems, and growing demands of globalised living in the 21st Century. With so many challenges in life, in work, and in the interface between the two, all of us need help sometimes. Professional coaches offer a potentially powerful service: guidance and support to help you engage in your life more effectively, and assistance on the path of development towards your highest future potential. But where does one begin in choosing a coach?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself:

1.    Do I really need a professional coach?


Before you dive into hiring a coach, spend a bit of ‘me’ time assessing what you really need from the transaction. Do you just want someone to talk to? Perhaps you’ll get what you need from a counsellor, close friend, or family member. Do you have something in your past that you feel is holding you back, like childhood trauma or a difficult relationship? You’ll probably be best served by seeing a therapist (coaches work with various parts of the individual, including habits and experiences and personal beliefs, but the role of the coach is not to ‘fix’ these issues). Or, do you need help with a specific problem that’s blocking you from achieving something in the future? If that’s the case, you probably need a coach. The coach’s job is to facilitate a transition to a new reality for the client, one in which they are more empowered to deal effectively with their particular coaching topic. This is a future-facing process, aimed at moving you towards the person you want to be, in the life that you want to live.

2.    Is this ‘coach’ the real deal?


According to the ICF, there are more than 53 000 professional coaches currently practicing worldwide. Importantly, though, these figures only account for certified coaches. With so many accredited coaches out there, it’s hard enough choosing the right coach for your needs. But, the decision is made considerably more difficult by the multitude of uncertified practitioners who wear the title, ‘Coach’. In essence, there are no barriers to entry in coaching – any person who feels that they have value to add or learning to share can call themselves a coach. Some such individuals make a big impact in their clients’ lives, but many more clients get stung by ‘coaches’ who are not qualified or experienced enough to offer the – often expensive – services they purport to. This has resulted in a lot of justified scepticism about coaches and the coaching industry in general, so if you’re looking for a coach, look for accreditation.

Check that your potential coach is a member in good standing of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), The International Association of Coaching (IAC), the Association for Coaching­, or any of the recognised international or regional coaching bodies. On, for example, coaches are required to meet minimum qualifications and requirements before they are allowed to join the platform: certification from ICF or similar is necessary for Life, Leadership and Career Coaches. Health Coaches must be health or sport education graduates, while mentors must have at least 5 years’ experience in their specific field of competence.


“many more clients get stung by ‘coaches’ who are

not qualified or experienced enough to

offer the – often expensive – services they purport to”

3.    What do I want to achieve?


Spending time accurately defining the problem that you are trying to solve will help you choose the right coach. Struggling to be a mother and a career woman? Not sure why you have so much conflict with your executives? Want to live in more alignment with your values, while still enjoying a decent lifestyle? These issues might each invite the skills of a different type of coach. Most coaches specialise, and there are many niches. In choosing a coach, find one that focuses on your problem area, is qualified to do so, and has experience that you can trust.

4.    Can I trust this person?


There is no coaching relationship without trust, but trust is not built on the back of a qualification alone. Request a free introductory session with your prospective coach, get a feel for what it might be like to work with them. Do you trust that they will get where you are coming from? Do they have the expertise to help you with your particular coaching topic? Do you feel a connection? Do you feel seen and heard? Do they have trustworthy testimonials from other coaching clients? Has this person ‘lived’ your experience? Trust is always easier when we feel that the other person can empathise, and in coaching this can be extremely valuable. However, we all have blind spots. The business owner who needs assistance addressing conflict issues with his senior team might need a coach who can specifically help develop his EQ, not an executive coach focused on putting new systems in place. This is not always easy to see. Sometimes the coach we need is the coach who is different from us, not the same.

5.    Can I commit to this?


Coaching is a transformative practice, but it requires a genuine commitment from the client – in time, energy, and resources. Though valuable, coaching can be expensive; will you be paying, or will your company contribute? How will you manage your time and energy to meet the extra demands? In order to get what you need from the coaching process, you might need to make some sacrifices, put other projects on hold, or face some difficult truths about the way you live and the choices you make. A good coach will help prepare you for the process ahead and set up agreements that keep you on track. Genuine change always requires genuine investment – be honest with yourself about whether you’re willing to do what’s needed before you commit. introduces coaching clients to qualified, certified and vetted coaches, with specialists in Life Coaching, Health Coaching, Career Coaching, Leadership Coaching, mentorship and more. Let us pair you with a coach today: