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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. While there is definitely something here for you, we're going to dig a little deeper into this important question from another perspective, so read on to find out more.


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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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Our main focus here is going to be discovering how one can go from scratch—meaning: no or very few skills at all—and learn to become all three of the above: great, professional and a coach. Don’t forget there’s plenty of free information on the site, in our guide, in my ebook, on our free Learning Lab calls, the Free Trial program and naturally, in the Emergent Coach Training program itself. If you’re new to coaching then trust me, it’s a journey, but one which will not only change your clients, but will profoundly change your life and also the lives of all around you and beyond. Coaching offers skills which transform minds and can positively impact the world itself in powerful and surprising ways. If you’re here because you feel a sense of mission in your life, then you’re in the right place. So do we. Enjoy!


Table of contents


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 operate compared to the way many other helping professions do. A common belief is that coaches are instructors, mentors and advice givers and while this is true of say sport coaches, it bears little resemblance to the professional modern 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 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 task is to help clients to create their own solutions. To switch on their own creative powers. If we were to simply diagnose issues then those capacities would always lie dormant in our clients. The compelling research from Self-Determination Theory has clearly shown that when we develop autonomy (meaning we make our own decisions) that our intrinsic motivation is activated and we’re more likely to follow through and achieve our life 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 another to turn knowledge into real world action and to translate it into meaningful change 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. Of these there’s everything covered from Life, Creativity, Health & Nutrition right through to Leadership and Executive coaches (see below for more on this). 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 meaningfully implement resources etc. in ways which create sustainable change in themselves and in their lives.

Alongside (and I would say prior to) implementation, coaches help clients to 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 can not 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?


While a coach won’t fix problems, in most circumstances they can certainly help you or anyone fix what’s wrong with their life with a few important caveats! Firstly, if the problems are ones best served by psychotherapeutic or other 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 to support people to stay motivated, overcome challenges and hit their personal health goals. All great areas for a coach’s skills. They may also make suggestions around diet and exercise etc. and work with the client to explore them and then implement.

Beyond 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 the client who makes the decisions and does the work! While the coach has skills to help others develop, learn and take action and is there to support accountability, in the end it’s the client’s life and goals.


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1.4 How would a coach help me?


A well-trained and professionally-credentialed coach can help you gain clarity on what you want to be different, how you can change and improve, plus help you design and implement the appropriate actions needed to make this improved version of yourself real. This process should start right at the beginning even before any real work has happened. One of the key markers of a good coach is that they partner with you to become very clear about your goals for the coaching, including the end markers or measures of those, because coaching should always be able to demonstrate movement and success. Alongside that it must also be time bound.

So you clarify goals, create clear measures for those and also agree when they will be achieved.

The same process will also happen in each session where you will want to clarify a focus for the session. It should generally be one which aligns with the bigger goals you're working on. And then work on that towards clear agreed outcomes and measure those.

While there’s a lot of talking in a coaching session, the real work happens in-between each session where you start making concrete changes in how you behave, or you might have practices which can help reprogram how you think, operate or respond to situations.

Having actions and 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.

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


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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 a great next question to solve when you’re setting out to choose how and where to train as a coach. 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 for you to know now is that it’s less important to have specialty training when starting out than it is to have great training as a coach. So often people 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 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. The process of choosing a specialty and who you might want to serve as a client base is best left to grow and develop as you do along your learning path. So many times I’ve seen people come through my programs who had one vision when they began and a completely different view by the time they’d completed. The same can be said of folk who’d come into a training just to ‘get some coaching skills’ but no intention of actually coaching others who by the end have totally reversed and are now out there running their own coaching practices.


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2.1 What is life coaching?


Life coaching covers an overarching niche which serves the whole of a client’s life. So a life coach may work with areas such as diet or exercise and also work on 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 the term life coach is not always viewed positively and is often employed as a kind of code for someone who's either a bit fluffy and new-agey or as a kind of life mentor. Sadly, the proliferation of dubious quality training programs coupled with the facts that anyone can call themselves a life coach and that it (life coaching) is an easy target for cynical comedians, has significantly contributed to the poor public perception of it in some circles.

Equally, there are many who seem to view any kind of 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 (as therapists are) a well-trained life coach can support you in many areas of your life where you aren't functioning optimally. I like to say: they will not give you advice or answers but they will help you unpack the pieces of you and your life in ways which can help you find your answers for yourself, and then operationalize those insights into real world action and an upgraded way of living. If they are truly well trained then they will have a very high level of professional skill.

I personally transitioned sometime ago into calling my version from life coaching to life alchemy. Partly because I simply love the mythic allusions. I 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 is? Helping someone turn their mundane life into something precious and golden?


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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 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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2.3 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

We’ve already covered this above!

Business Coaching

Business coaches work with business owners to optimize (or launch) their business.

Executive Coaching

These coaches support executives to develop themselves or possibly overcome challenges in how they operate.

Leadership Coaching

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

Team Coaching

A very hot area these days is working with teams in organizations and it does require some additional skills 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.

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.

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 training for this and there are some great programs out there.

Spiritual Coaching

If you are drawn into 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.


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 you’re hoping to work on and hopefully you’ve read some of the above on what 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 do something about that then, yes, coaching is right for you. What then becomes important 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 it is definitely for you. I would often start my previous program by asking the room “Who wants to make a positive difference in the world?”. We used to start with an in person program and I could have as many as 170 people in the room and every time I did this, every hand was up. Coaches want to be of service, to 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 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 Knowledge Assessment (CKA) 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 though I’ve already made a case for going the credential way. 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 mean someone is an amazing coach. Nonetheless, 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 all 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 coaches communicating this 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 come 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 and how many units do I need?


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 trains coaches to both ACC Level 1 and PCC level 2.

To apply for ACC you require 60 ACSTH units. For PCC the requirement is 125 ACSTH. The Emergent Coach Training currently offers up to 150 ACSTH for the full program and up to 80 ACSTH for the Level 1 ACC track. We are in the process of applying for both new Level 1 and Level 2.


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



For ACC you need to have:

  • Evidence of 100 hours of client coaching.
  • Completed 10 hours of mentor coaching.*
  • Submitted two recordings & transcripts of your coaching and received a pass from the ICF assessor. *
  • Completed the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) and received a pass.
  • Paid membership and submission fees to the ICF.

For further details please go here.

For PCC you need to have:

  • Evidence of 500 hours of client coaching.
  • Completed 10 hours of mentor coaching. *
  • Submitted two recordings & transcripts of your coaching and received a pass from the ICF assessor. *
  • Completed the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) and received a pass.
  • Paid membership and submission fees to the ICF.

For further details please go here.

For MCC path details go here.

* If taking a new Level 1 or 2 program (or ACTP) these should be already incorporated in that.


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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, the AC (Association for Coaching) and the EMCC. If they’re credentialed by a professional body then they must also be teaching a version of the recognized coaching competencies and training to an industry standard. Make sure they’re offering a full training and not simply CEU’s or CCEU’s as they’re sometimes called. ICF-accredited programs must train at ACTP or ACSTH level or from early 2023 to the new Level 1 and Level 2. CEU training units cannot be used to apply for credentialing from 2023 as going forward these will not be considered complete coaching education programs.

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 all cognition is not simply a function if neural firing in the brain, but arises out of the mind which is embodied, relational 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 (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 which explores 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 8-9 months depending on how quick you complete all the components including submitting for certification.


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Join our Emergent Coach Training program


The Emergent Coach Training® program integrates ICF coaching competencies with cutting-edge cognitive science, systems thinking, Focusing, mindfulness, somatics, multiplicity, depth psychology and human development theory into a powerfully innovative, whole-person coaching methodology.



4.4 What else will make me a great professional coach?


Once all of those above are in place then one of the first areas is to practice. Get out there coaching. Nothing replaces that. Mastery is built by doing, but … and this is a big ‘but’, not by simply automating the whole thing. No! We need to be exploring, experimenting, learning, reflecting ourselves continuously.

It can be all too easy to think one has got somewhere by gaining a certification or credential and that now you simply show up and get a paycheck. Some do. 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. If you simply have your go-to set of questions and tools then your clients are going to get pretty bored and so will you.

Oh, there are coaches who do exactly this. And there are training programs which 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 help one 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.

Embody the skills and competencies of great coaching, practice them again and again, learn from your sessions and use that learning to grow, adapt and evolve, and in time you will become a great, professional coach.


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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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