The coaching industry, such as it is, is unregulated. Anyone can call themselves a coach and market themselves accordingly. Unlike psychologists, coaches in Australia, and around the world, do not require a license to practice.

This lack of regulation poses a serious risk to anyone considering purchasing coaching services. I have heard many anecdotes of ‘cowboy’ coaches giving the profession a bad name:

  • The coach who charges exorbitant fees and then provides very little or, at best, a ‘cookie-cutter’ service;
  • The coach who spends more time talking about themselves and less time focused on the client; and
  • The coach who has no mental health training and fails to recognise the presence of mental illness.

There are several things you can look for when hiring a coach:

  • Formal qualifications: Australia has one of the leading post-graduate programs dedicated to teaching evidence-based coaching psychology practice. There are several others around the world. These programs teach the latest techniques based on peer-reviewed research from psychology, adult learning and development, and other behavioural sciences.
  • Membership of Professional Bodies: Despite being unregulated, several organisations are working to professionalise coaching. The International Coach Federation, Association For Coaching and European Mentoring and Coaching Council are three examples. These organisations have accredited training programs, and membership requires abiding by respective ethical codes. Your coach should provide a copy of those codes of conduct on request.
  • Past Clients: Who has your prospective coach worked with previously? Don’t be afraid to ask for references and testimonials. A quick look at the coach’s website and LinkedIn profile should provide some initial information. Talk to people who’ve used your coach’s services before.

There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you get an ethical and qualified coach and maximise your chances for your own success.

Above all, choose someone you trust, is invested in your success and with who you have a good rapport.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding any of the points I have raised above or any topic regarding leadership development or executive coaching.