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How do I become a great professional coach?


This short guide will give you a comprehensive overview of how to get started on the journey to becoming a truly effective, successful and powerful professional coach, .

This is a journey that will not only help you to create change in your clients, but will profoundly change you and your life as it will the lives of those around you and beyond. Coaching develops skills that transforms minds and lives with enormous potential to positively impact the wider world in powerful and surprising ways.

So if you’re here because you feel a sense of mission in your life — if you want to make a real impact in the world — you are in the right place.

 


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How do I become a great professional coach?


Welcome to our go-to guide for everything you’ll need to know about becoming a truly effective, successful and powerful coach. I’d say there are at least two ways to view this question and one is how an existing professional coach can become even more effective. I’ve written fairly extensively about this so go here if you want to read more on my perspective on that and there is definitely something here for you as well, so do read on.


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Chapter 1

What is coaching?


1.1 What’s the difference between a therapist and a coach?


1.2 What problems does a coach help solve?

1.3 Can coaching help me fix what's wrong with my life?


1.4 How would a coach help me?

Chapter 1

What is coaching?


The renowned US statesman Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” which helpfully also points to some of the differences in how coaches function compared to the way many other helping professionals do. A common belief is that coaches are instructors, mentors and advice givers and while this is true of sport coaches, it bears little resemblance to the modern professional coaches skillset.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as,

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Coaching is a skilled and nuanced way of supporting someone to develop themselves, overcome their inner and outer obstacles and find new and better ways to function more optimally in their life. If anything, professional coaches have to train out of giving advice and solutions straight off the bat. Our real role is in helping clients to generate their own solutions and to switch on their own creative problem solving powers.

If we were to simply diagnose issues and provide answers, then the important capacities for self-generative thinking and action would continue to lie dormant in our clients. The compelling research from Self-Determination Theory has clearly shown that when we develop autonomy (meaning we have a sense of agency and are able to make our own decisions) then intrinsic motivation is activated and we’re far more likely to follow through and achieve our goals.

Equally, while we coaches may have more knowledge or expertise about certain topics than our clients, we are not experts in anyone else but ourselves. This means that while there are certainly times when we might offer resources and learning, applying any of it is the client’s job. As we all have Google these days it becomes ever more apparent that knowledge alone is not the issue with regard to development and change. Skilled coaches learn how to support their clients to turn knowledge into real world action and translate it into meaningful changes in their own lives.

Professional coaches see their clients as experts in themselves and aim to help them develop their own creative responses, inner potentials and personal strengths in order to achieve their goals, commitments and aspirations.


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1.1 What’s the difference between a therapist and a coach?


The line between therapy and coaching can seem a little opaque at times but there are some key differences between how most therapy and counseling works compared to how coaches function. Both are aimed at helping their clients live happier, more easeful and fulfilling lives, yet where therapeutic interventions primarily deal with clinically significant psychological challenges and problems, many of which can have their roots in our early childhood or younger lives, coaches do not generally train to work with these areas.

Considering the above, there is an assumption that therapists are trained to have expertise in many areas of the client including their mental health, that they are trained to diagnose, treat, advise etc. and will often have a large educational component in their work. Coaches definitely bring some expertise (eg. leadership or human development theory, health principles etc.) they are primarily trained in facilitation. As such we coaches may well offer resources but are less reliant on education than therapists.

It is often simplistically said that therapy aims to help make sense of and heal the past in order to create a better now, while coaches are interested in what we do now in order to create a better future, yet this is not entirely true. There are therapeutic styles which look a lot like coaching and vice versa. Also while coaches will certainly encounter and work with some forms of psychological distress they do not offer to treat or work with clinically significant distress unless they have specific training to do so.

Another key difference between the fields is that coaches, while certainly interested in the whole of your life including your past, are mostly going to help you craft a plan for your ideal future goals and then partner with you to help you achieve those. So professional coaches establish clear plans and agreements and then measure the success of the coaching against those agreed markers.


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1.2 What problems does a coach help solve?


There's no simple response to this question as it depends upon whatever niche (or speciality) each coach chooses. These might be anything from Life, Creativity, ADHD, Health & Nutrition right through to Leadership and Executive coaches — more on the topic of specialties further on! If you have a life issue or area you want to optimize or create change in, then you will very likely find a coach who specializes in that.

Something to consider with this question is that coaches help solve, they don't give solutions themselves. It doesn't mean that a coach won't have important information or resources (sometimes a lot of it may also be highly specialized), but a key skill we coaches train in is how to help someone shift their way of seeing themselves, their situations and as a result their sense of agency in relation to their 'problems'. The great Einstein is often quoted as having said,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

One of the really nuanced skills of coaching is supporting someone to shift their way of thinking about and seeing situations. They become less locked in their conditioned mode and gain a more elevated or changed perspective—a different level of thinking. You can tell someone a perspective but that isn't the same a seeing it for yourself, right? Same as if I told you about a movie or if you saw it yourself.

There are many ways we coaches learn to support this developmental shift of view in others and one of the key ways we use in Emergent Coaching involves using the body itself. There's a lot to how we teach this but a very simple example is to notice how you are seeing yourself, feeling and thinking right now. Next, stand up and go to the window (or even outside!), look up at the sky and now notice your mood, your thinking and self view. It will have changed. Easy!

What we coaches don’t help solve (as we highlighted previously) are clinically significant areas of psychological distress, medical health and so forth. We don’t make unrealistic promises nor do we offer services unrelated to our true expertise. Good professional coaches understand their lane and stay in it.


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1.3 Can coaching help me fix what's wrong with my life?


As we've just highlighted, while a coach won’t fix your problems themselves, in most circumstances a well trained coach can certainly help you (or anyone) fix or significantly improve what you believe is wrong with your life ... with some important caveats!

Firstly, as we've said, if the problems are ones best served by psychotherapeutic, mental health or medical professionals then the answer is no. Unless your coach has appropriate professional training in these areas as well (and some do!) then you must seek appropriate professional care and treatment for those issues.

That said coaches will often work in partnership with other professionals on areas suited to their particular specialty. For example: Health coaches will often work alongside or in partnership with a medical professional in order to support clients to stay motivated, overcome challenges and hit their personal health goals. All great areas for a coach’s skills. They may also occasionally make suggestions around diet and exercise etc. and work with the client to explore them and possibly implement them if appropriate.

Another caveat is that while the personal development world loves to extol the principle that everything is possible, we all surely must know that simply isn't how life or physics works. A good ethical coach will want to make sure that while your goals may seem a big stretch, that they're also not unfeasible. If I went to a coach with a goal of dancing a principal role with the New York City ballet next year or flying unaided to Europe, they would not be right to proceed with them. Sure these examples are a little extreme, but you get the point I'm making. Goals need to be stretchy but do-able.

Beyond all that, a good well-trained and experienced professional coach can help most people with pretty well anything they’d like to improve but don’t forget: It’s always the client who makes the decisions and does the work! While the coach has skills to help others develop, learn, think differently, take action and will support accountability, in the end it’s the client’s life, goals and their efforts that win the prize.


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1.4 How would a coach help me?


A well-trained coach can help you gain clarity on what you want to be different, support you to discover how you can change and improve, and then help you design and implement the appropriate actions needed to make this improved version of yourself real. This process actually starts before any real coaching work has happened. A key marker of a good coach is that they spend time at the outset helping you get very clear about your goals and outcomes, including agreeing how you'll measure success when you've completed and a clear timeframe for that. Professional coaches should always be able to demonstrate movement and the success of your work together.

Coaches help their clients clarify goals, create clear measures for those and also define timelines for when they will be achieved.

A similar process happens in each session where you will want to clarify a focus for the session and some measures again. These should generally be ones which align with and move towards achieving the bigger goals you're working on.

While there’s plenty of powerful conversational tools and exploration employed within coaching sessions all aimed towards shifting awareness and generating insght, in some ways it could be said that the real work takes place in-between each session where you operationalize the insights and learning that came from those conversations. Now you start making concrete changes in how you behave, exploring new experiences and taking new actions, or perhaps you might be engaging in practices and learning which helps reprogram how you think, operate and respond to situations.

Having actions, practices and field work to engage with in-between sessions is how your goals begin to take shape in your life and within you.

Your coach will help you design these and then help you stay accountable to yourself for the actions. This last piece of accountability is super important as we all know how we can set out with great intentions yet somewhere along the way run out of gas and lose momentum. Coaching helps you to sustain momentum and get over that hump to true success and to achieving the new way of being or living you know is possible.

While you're both setting clear measures and goals etc. it is a common apprehension that a coaching relationship should fit some kind of preordained plan set by the coach. In fact, there are many coach training programs who give them (coaching plans) to their students and even give them session scripts to be able run them. If you encounter these (either as coach or client) I would actually say 'Walk away!'. These are not coaching to my mind but are more a kind of training program. Look it might be great as that, and might be integrated into a coaching offer, but don't confuse a plan with coaching.

Coaching must be dynamic and responsive to be truly effective.

You can't plan your sessions ahead. Instead, meet the client where they are and as they are in that moment. These types of plans help novice coaches feel more in control but they will do little to support the real, systemic types of change that coaching is actually capable of. Plus they give no support to be able to meet the curve balls and challenges that real life presents or that real live clients present with.

Finally, coaches may also bring a lot of resources, knowledge, experience and so forth, yet while these can be immensely valuable, they are not the most important factor in making change. In fact, this is so often where novice coaches get it backwards. The reality is that we all have Google. The sum total of human knowledge is now at all of our fingertips. So if knowledge created change then why do so many not manage to make it themselves?

Knowledge has been called power, but in reality it's how one applies knowledge that makes it powerful.

Thinking generatively, implementation and action is the business of coaching. Insights, great ideas and the like get left gathering dust all the time. Being motivated to apply resources, insights and knowledge are where the rubber meets the road and that is why coaching is so powerful.


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Chapter 2

How do I choose what type of coach to become?


2.1 What is life coaching?


2.2 What is developmental and performance coaching?

2.3 What are some other types of coaching?


2.4 Is coaching or coach training right for me?

Chapter 2

How do I choose what type of coach to become?


This is certainly a helpful question to reflect on when you’re setting out to choose how and where to train as a coach, however the response might not be what you expect. There are many specialty areas in coaching and if you’d like to learn more about how coaches choose their specialty or what we also call a niche then go read this.

The key point I make in there as well is that it’s far less important to have specialized training (health coach, executive coach etc.) when starting out than it is to simply have great training as a coach. As I pointed to previously, all too often novice coaches get this the other way around and go and get a whole lot of very specific training, say as a health coach, only to find themselves full of wonderful resources and information but feeling considerably less confident in their core coaching skills.

My suggestion is to hold your specialty interest for now and take a program which mostly focuses on developing your skill as a coach. Concentrate on that first. The business of choosing a specialty and who you might want to serve as a client base is best left to grow and develop as you also do along your learning path to mastery.

So many times I’ve had people come through my programs who had one vision when they began and a completely different one by the time they’d completed. The same can be said of folk who come into a training just to ‘get some coaching skills’ but no intention of actually working as a coach, yet by the end they've totally reversed and are now out there running their own thriving coaching practices.


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2.1 What is life coaching?


Life coaching broadly aims to address the whole of a client’s person and their life. A life coach may support you with diet or exercise or help you optimize your relationships, dating, life vision or career transition. Pretty well anything to do with helping you make your life more full, fulfilling and successful.

Unfortunately, as I'm sure you're aware, the term life coach isn't always viewed positively. These day it's often employed as a kind of code for someone who's either a bit fluffy and new-agey or to describe a kind of life mentor or guru, and has sadly become low hanging fruit for cynical comedians looking for a cheap joke. Equally, the proliferation of dubious quality training programs coupled with the fact that anyone can call themselves a life coach has significantly contributed to the poor public perception of it in some circles.

There are also many who view seeking professional support for their life or mental health as a sign of weakness. They are as a quick to scoff at someone who would get a life coach as they are unlikely to find themselves on a therapist's couch, no matter how much difficulty or suffering they might be in.

While life coaches are not trained to deal with clinically significant psychological issues a well-trained life coach can support you positively shift in most areas of your life where you aren't currently functioning optimally. While they won't give you advice or answers, they will certainly help you think bigger and find your own answers, and then support you operationalizing those insights into real world action.

To living the life one knows is possible, yet doesn't currently have the way to bring it in to being by themselves.

Some time ago I started calling my offer life alchemy instead of life coaching. Partly because of the issues with public perception and largely because I simply love the mythic tone of it and also love that alchemy was the forerunner of modern science which aimed to turn base metal into gold. And isn't that what life coaching actually is? Helping someone turn their mundane life into something precious and golden? Not really something one should make into a cheap gag, right?


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2.2 What is developmental and performance coaching?


Many early pioneers in the field of coaching were primarily interested in how coaching can be used to increase and improve performance in areas such as sport and business and therefore much of coaching in its earlier days has been based on the performance model. In fact, a good number of the pioneers of professional coaching even came from sport such as the late former racing driver Sir John Whitmore whose company was aptly named Performance Consultants International. In this model the client sets goals and together they set out to gain a straightforward win. Easy enough then to prove results: you either get there or you don’t.

In contrast developmental coaching is far more interested in how a client learns and develops mastery in their way of being and then grows the capacity to consistently replicate their success. Where performance coaching is generally aimed at improving behavior for a particular win, developmental coaching evolves the whole human to a larger experience of reality and self-concept and enhances their ability to meet their current and future challenges more effectively. This elevates their developmental stage up a notch (or more!) and gives them access to more evolved and complex responses to life situations. Change in this model is a more sophisticated, interior and whole-person job.

Studies on this area of mastery or performance goal setting appear to show a radical difference on motivation depending on the goal orientation between these two with mastery being the one which truly changes the human. In reality even developmental coaching models will incorporate performance goals within but aim to ensure that the mindset is appropriately developmentally oriented. This would mean that NOT achieving a goal either partially or fully is then viewed as a learning experience (mastery) rather than a fail (performance).

While we teach how to coach for performance, the Emergent Coach Training is largely a developmental coaching model.


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2.3 What are some other types of coaching?


The answer here is that there are as many specialties as there are human activities. Here’s a few to consider:


Life Coaching

As we’ve already just covered this in a little detail directly above we won't say more for now.

Business Coaching

Business coaches work with business owners to optimize (or launch) their business. Often they've already had considerable experience themselves as entrepreneurs and business owners.

Executive Coaching

These coaches support executives to develop themselves or possibly overcome challenges in how they operate. We have a module devoted to executive, leadership and organizational coaching.

Leadership Coaching

Like the above these coaches work with existing leaders or leader candidates to improve and develop their leadership skills.

Team Coaching

A very hot area these days is working with teams in organizations, while drawing on the basic coaching skillset, and it does require some additional training to do well.

Health Coaching

A huge niche area in coaching and there are many providers out there these days. A caveat is to make sure you know the statutory limits in your area for what you can say and offer around diet, supplements etc..

Weight Loss Coaching

Another highly popular niche and the same caveats apply here as do with health coaching. Coaches, unless they have specific extra qualifications, are not medical professionals.

Transition and Change Coaching

In some ways all of coaching is about change though some of us specialize in it and may even specialize further into population types eg.Transitioning out of work to retirement.

Career Coaching

A particularly helpful area for younger client candidates though this niche can also help any client to hone, improve or transition their career.

Finance Coaching

This would ask that the coach does have some skill and knowledge in this area in order to ensure the client gains some basic principles and understanding alongside the coaching.

Marketing Coaching

Probably one of the exploding areas in coaching HOWEVER many of these coaches are making highly unethical and unrealistic claims (eg. Earn 6-7 figures per month!). Equally, how many clients they each have is debatable but if you can offer realistic coaching with realistic outcomes and have skills here then go for it.

Relationship Coaching

You would certainly need specific additional training for this and we do have a module devoted to this area. Here's a link to one of the great programs out there.

Spiritual Coaching

If you are drawn towards spiritual development and exploration then this might be your area!

ADHD Coaching

Another area which requires specific training but also appears to be in quite high demand as does the whole area of supporting neurodivergent clients.


This list is as long as you wish to make it. Find what you love, have experience and training in and where you know the pain points and then experiment. Finding your area is an iterative process. Learn coaching, take your time, enjoy the journey!


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2.3 What is developmental and performance coaching?


Many early pioneers in the field of coaching were primarily interested in how coaching can be used to increase and improve performance in areas such as sport and business and therefore much of coaching in its earlier days has been based on the performance model. In fact, a good number of the pioneers of professional coaching even came from sport such as the late former racing driver Sir John Whitmore whose company was aptly named Performance Consultants International. In this model the client sets goals and together they set out to gain a straightforward win. Easy enough then to prove results: you either get there or you don’t.

In contrast developmental coaching is far more interested in how a client develops mastery in their way of being and then grows the capacity to consistently replicate their success. Where performance coaching is generally aimed at improving behavior for a particular win, developmental coaching is interested in improving the whole human. To elevating their developmental stage up a notch or more! Change in this model is a more sophisticated, interior and whole-person job, compared to performance coaching which often primarily affects the outside behavior only.

Studies on this area of mastery or performance goal setting appear to show a radical difference on motivation depending on the goal orientation between these two with mastery being the one which truly changes the human. In reality even developmental coaching models will incorporate performance goals within but aim to ensure that the mindset is appropriately developmentally oriented. This would mean that NOT achieving a goal either partially or fully is then viewed as a learning experience (mastery) rather than a fail (performance).


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2.4 Is coaching or coach training right for me?


As a client this will, of course, depend on what it is you’re hoping to work on. I'm assuming you’ve read some of the above on what areas professional coaches do and do not train to deal with. Outside of those areas and providing you have a life goal you’d like to achieve and are ready to really do something about, then coaching is right for you.

The real question then is: which coach is right for you?

As for training as a coach? Well if you’re wanting to work with others and make a difference in their lives and yours — to help others become more fulfilled, happy, healthy and successful, then coaching is definitely for you. In my previous program we used to start with an in-person workshop and I could have as many as 170 people in the room. I always began by asking them,

“Who is here because they want to make a positive impact in the world?”

Every single time I did this, every hand was up. Coaches want to be of service, to make a difference, help the world and others and to grow themselves. If this is you, then you’re an ideal candidate.


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Chapter 3

Why is an ICF-accredited training important?


3.1 What is the ICF?


3.2 Can I just get a certification and not an ICF credential?

3.3 What are the ICF credential levels and how many units do I need?


3.4 Beyond your certification, what else do I need to become ICF credentialed?

Chapter 3

Why is an ICF-accredited training important?


If you’re not familiar with The International Coaching Federation (ICF) then more on that below but first let me clarify what they are and offer and what that means for us as a training organization and for you as a coach. The ICF have been involved in developing and researching standards and markers of good professional coaching for some 27 years now. Their Coaching Competencies define how professional coaches should operate in sessions and offer a professional rubric to evaluate coaching to that standard.

The ICF serve two key functions in relation to training organizations such as ours:

  1. They accredit organizations which means we have to go through an exacting process to show that we are teaching coaching to an industry agreed standard. Gaining accreditation with the ICF is no easy task so when an organization is accredited it means they have proven and continue to show a high level of training competence. All coach training organizations also have their own ‘flavor’ of coaching—their methodology and philosophy—but all ICF-accredited organizations teach the same competencies as well.
  2. ICF-accredited coach training organizations ensure you trained at the industry agreed level and on completion you are certified by them (the organization such as ours) to show that. Pretty well all coaching education providers offer certificates but the value of a certification from an unaccredited organization is clearly different to an ICF-accredited one. You will never know what standards you’ve being assessed by compared to an accredited organization! Once you have certified you can apply to the ICF to become credentialed by them which is their second key function. There are a few further steps to credentialing with them (application fees, Coach Credentialing Exam etc.) and once you’ve received your credential it needs to be maintained and renewed every three years.

Why it’s important to do all of this is it demonstrates to the world that you have proven competence as a coach at an industry approved level, that you maintain those high standards with ongoing professional development and most importantly, that you act in accordance with a professional code of ethical conduct and that you are answerable to that. The latter shows your clients that they are protected and trust me this is vital as I have seen first hand the damage caused by coaches who are not.


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3.1 What is the ICF?


The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.

The ICF offers the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program for coach practitioners. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements and have demonstrated a thorough understanding of the coaching competencies that set the standard in the profession. Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills, and dedication to clients.

The ICF also accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.


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3.2 Can I just get a certification and not an ICF credential?


Of course you can go whichever route you wish. I’ve already made a case for getting a credential though I would also say that there are many wonderful coaches out there who haven’t ever bothered getting a credential. Showing that degree of competence also doesn’t necessarily mean someone is an amazing coach but are are at least a competent one and for all the reasons above, it matters.

If you aren’t wanting to credential then I would certainly say that training with an accredited organization will matter, so at least consider that. Another factor is that recently the industry has seen a proliferation of coaching service providers (eg. Modern Health, BetterUp etc.) who will expect applicants to at least have been trained at an accredited program level. So too is a credential generally looked for in those seeking to work with organizations these days.

While it’s certainly true that currently many personal coaching clients are less well informed about what accreditation and credentialing means, how coaching begins to transform in the public consciousness from a fluffy, new-agey, self-help process into the true profession it is, is through credentialed coaches communicating the difference to them.

It’s a wild west out there and you can be up against another coach with no formal training or certification at all. The ICF themselves are very active these days in public awareness raising, yet they also need this to be coming from the ground up as well, meaning they need we ICF-credentialed coaches out there creating clarity as well.

Finally, even if you don’t wish to credential, ensuring that your primary coach training program is will give you that kudos and comfort knowing you’ve had an industry standard education. I’ve personally participated in five coach training programs, only three of which were ICF-accredited. I did learn quite a bit from the other programs BUT it was only once I undertook an accredited program that I really saw what I’d missed out on and I truly wished I’d done one of those first.


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3.3 What are the ICF credential levels?


There are three credential levels: Associate Certified Coach (ACC); Professional Certified Coach & Master Certified Coach. To find out more about these go here.

The Emergent Coach Training is accredited to certify coaches to both ACC Level 1 and PCC level 2. Our program gives you all the training you require to credential with the ICF and have proved competence to coach at that level.

Our Level 1 program earns 70 hours and Level 2 150 hours. Both exceed the ICF requirements.


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3.4 Beyond your certification, what else do I need to become ICF credentialed?



For ACC you need to have:

  • Completed a minimum of 60 accredited training hours (we offer 70 Level 1)*
  • Completed 10 hours of mentor coaching.*
  • Completed a Performance Evaluation of you coaching and received a pass from an ICF-qualified assessor. *
  • Completed the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam and received a pass.
  • Completed 100 hours of client coaching.
  • Paid membership and submission fees to the ICF.

For further details please go here.

For PCC you need to have:

  • Completed a minimum of 125 accredited training hours (we offer 150 Level 2)*
  • Completed 10 hours of mentor coaching. *
  • Completed a Performance Evaluation of you coaching and received a pass from an ICF-qualified assessor. *
  • Completed the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam and received a pass.
  • Completed 500 hours of client coaching.
  • Paid membership and submission fees to the ICF.

For further details please go here.

For MCC path details go here.

* When taking a Level 1 or 2 program such as ours these are all included in your training package. If taking another path such as portfolio, there are further expenses and submission requirements.


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Chapter 4

How do I pick a great professional coach training program?


4.1 What’s different about Emergent Coaching?


4.2 Is Emergent Coaching really based on science?

4.3 How long will it take me to get certified as an Emergent Coach?


4.4 What else will make me a great professional coach?

Chapter 4

How do I pick a great professional coach training program?


As I’ve stated above they should firstly be accredited by a well-recognized professional body. There’s a number of these including the ICF and the EMCC in Europe. If they’re accredited by a professional body then they generally must be teaching a version of the recognized coaching competencies and ethics, and training to an industry standard. However, sadly I have witnessed another well-known accrediting organization (not one of those two) giving a master coach credential to an individual who astonishingly had no coaching certification. This is why I value the ICF and their standards as I know such a thing would never be able to happen with them.

Also make sure they’re offering a full training and not simply CEU’s or CCEU’s as they’re sometimes called. A good ICF-accredited program should be training at Levels 1, 2 and/or 3. CEU training units are not intended to be used for gaining a full credential, as one can never know whether their training has been sufficiently comprehensive.

Aim to find out what their model is. Read about their philosophy—their special sauce—and make sure it makes sense to you and that it also appeals to you and your learning style. Make sure it’s science-based. They should have a good website with clear outlines of the program, a curriculum guide and even better, regular webinars or someone with whom you can speak to clarify your needs and questions.

Most of all make sure the program ‘sings’ to you. Does it seem to resonate deeply with the skillset you want to acquire and how you see yourself operating in the world?


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4.1 What’s different about Emergent Coaching?


While the coaching competencies offer an extremely powerful framework for change conversations, current findings in cognitive science point to the fact that they still leave a lot on the table when creating lasting change and development. Prof. George Lakoff of Berkeley University and Prof Mark Johnson tell us that,

“Conscious thought is the tip of an enormous iceberg. It is the rule of thumb among cognitive scientists that unconscious thought is 95% of all thought— and that may be a serious underestimate. Moreover, the 95% below the surface of conscious awareness shapes and structures all conscious thought.” [1]

This fact means that most coaching skillsets are really only able to interact with 5% or less of a client’s thought (aka their decision-making capacity and intelligence). No matter how hard or emphatically a client might want to change their behavior or circumstances, let’s be honest if you have 5% (or less!) working against 95% which may be committed elsewhere then the chances of sustainable success for them and your coaching are pretty dismal. Ever noticed how hard it is to make changes? This is the very reason right here.

Having been engaged in professional coaching program design and delivery for well over a decade I have integrated a number of time and research-proven skills into the Emergent Coaching Training which directly interact on this vast 95% of our under the radar intelligence. This doesn’t mean we don’t need the formal coaching skills. They’re still vital but not enough on their own. In the Emergent Coach Training Program you learn both and how to integrate them into a truly unique and powerful coaching offer. The results will blow you and your clients away.


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4.2 Is Emergent Coaching really based on science?


I’ve already cited Lakoff and Johnson, both key figures in the field cognitive science but it doesn’t stop there. The late Eugene Gendlin, creator of the Focusing process was himself a Professor at Chicago University and winner of multiple accolades from scientific organizations across the globe including three distinguished awards from the American Psychological Association. Alongside these in the program you’re introduced to the work of Prof Guy Claxton, Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Plank Institute and many many more.

Cognitive science informs much of the Emergent model and even more so the subset known as Embodied Cognition. Cognitive Science explores how humans think, process and make decisions and is therefore at the heart of what we do as coaches. Embodied cognition proposes that cognition is not solely a function of neural firing in the brain, but a meta-function arising out of the mind which is embodied, relational, enacted and embedded in an environment. All of it. So to work with a client means all of these factors need to be accounted for. According to leading researchers Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka,

"Embodiment is the surprisingly radical hypothesis that the brain is not the sole cognitive resource we have available to us to solve problems. Our bodies and their perceptually guided motions through the world do much of the work required to achieve our goals, replacing the need for complex internal mental representations. This simple fact utterly changes our idea of what “cognition” involves, and thus embodiment is not simply another factor acting on an otherwise disembodied cognitive processes." [2]

We also draw on research from Positive Psychology, a field which grew out of an intentional refocusing of psychology from merely healing damage and pathologies to one which is also interested in creating optimal human functioning including wrangling areas such as meaning, purpose and what all of us ultimately want—happiness! In this area we also explore emotional wellbeing including the capacity to emotionally self regulate and all the now well documented implications of developing emotional literacy and intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI or sometimes also EQ) was first coined in 1990 by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey, but was later popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman and accounts for nearly 90 percent of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills and knowledge. In a recent series of studies researchers set out to see if,

“... two aspects of cognition — the knowledge of what you know and don't know and your motivation to engage in cognitive problems — were related to this measure of emotional intelligence and wise reasoning. And it turns out, they are related and they mediate between the two.” [3]

Yet another area of interest to us is Behavioral Science (aka Behavioral Economics). The study of human behavior and how it changes. One particular stream of this is known as Self-Determination Theory (SDT),  a body of work from researchers Ed Deci and Richard Ryan exploring the key factors of human motivation and how we might establish them — clearly all important areas for we coaches to integrate.

So taking all the above alone we might certainly say, "Yes, the Emergent Coaching model is undoubtedly based on cutting-edge science." Though trust me, this is only part of the fascinating new science which is informing our process.


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4.3 How long will it take me to get certified as an Emergent Coach?


It depends on the track but an ACC Level 1 program takes around 16-18 weeks and the full PCC Level 2 track generally takes between 9-12 months depending on when you commence and how quick you complete all the components.


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Interested in the Emergent Coach Training program?


The Emergent Coach Training® program combines ICF coaching competencies with cutting-edge cognitive science, systems thinking, Focusing, mindfulness, somatics, parts work, positive psychology and human development theory into an astonishingly powerful, whole-human coaching method for creating sustainable embodied change.



4.4 What else will make me a great professional coach?


Once all of the above are in place then one of the first areas to attend to is to practice. Get out there coaching. Nothing replaces that. Mastery is built by doing, but — and this is a very big ‘but’ — not by simply automating the whole thing. We need to be constantly exploring, experimenting, learning and reflecting ourselves in order to keep learning, growing and honing our craft.

It can be all too easy to think one has got somewhere by gaining a certificate or credential and that now you simply show up and get a paycheck. Some certainly do just that. Yet if you truly want to make a difference and to be the most effective coach you can be, to truly grow and evolve yourself, then the learning never stops.

Equally, every client is different. Sure they may present with similar sounding issues, but don’t be fooled. Each interaction is new. Each moment is fresh. And each client has their own unique set of life conditions and conditioning. If you simply have a go-to set of questions and tools then besides the poor outcomes, your clients are going to get pretty bored and so will you.

Yet there are coaches who do exactly this and there are training programs that offer session scripts and guides with session plans. If that’s what you want, then go for it. These all sound ok in principle to some and they can help them feel more in control. but we humans are live, dynamic processes which require live, dynamic, adaptive responses from our coaches (and therapists) not the type of coaching you could just as well get from a fancy piece of AI.

And as we're all now beginning to see how extensively that (AI) is threatening many industries, trust me, coaching is also in its sights. Particularly if you work in the more automated ways I've just outlined. Your only real hedge is to lean deep into your humanness and humanity while bringing something unique to each interaction.

The truly masterful coach embodies the skills, competencies and ethics of great coaching and expresses them spontaneously while remaining committed to their own continued growth and development. That's how you will become one yourself. Practice again and again with your clients (and others) then reflect and learn from your experience. Keep training, reading, engaging in practices and developing your skills and your mind. Continue to use all your learning to grow, adapt and evolve, and then you will surely be a great, professional coach.

I wish you well on that journey.


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References:

[1] Philosophy in the Flesh George Lakoff & Mark Johnson (p13) 1999

[2] Andrew D. Wilson, Sabrina Golonka ; Embodied cognition is not what you think it is; Front. Psychol., 12 February 2013; Sec. Cognitive Science, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00058

[3] University of Chicago; Two studies show a link between emotional intelligence and wisdom

[4] Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 416–436). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n21


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