Life Coach Certification: What It Is and Why It’s Useful

Life Coach Certification

Think life coaching is mumbo-jumbo? A bit of social hocus-pocus?

It’s not. And it’s a rapidly growing market.

In the U.S., the personal development industry was worth just $707 million in 2011, but that quickly shot up to over $1.06 billion in 2016.

To boot, the International Coach Federation believes over 53,300 coaches are practicing their craft worldwide, with over 17,500 of those coaches operating in the U.S.

So if you’re wanting to break into the coaching industry and establish yourself as an authority figure, you’re going to need all the help you can get. And that means getting life coach certification.

Confused about what life coach certification is?

I’ve got you covered.

In this post I’ll define what a life coach is (useful for any non-life coach readers), give examples of prominent life coaches, clarify what life coach certification is and how to get it, then offer free Process Street-made templates to help you with life management. Just read the following sections below:

Now, take a deep breath.

We’re about to get started.

What is a life coach?

What is a life coach

Simply put, a life coach is a person who’s hired to help unlock their clients’ full potential. No matter if the client has issues concerning work, feelings of imposter syndrome, money, personal relationships, health, or overall wellbeing, the life coach is there to provide objective support.

The International Coach Federation (ICF), a life coach standards-setting organization, defines coaching as:

“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”The International Coach Federation, Definition of coaching

And, more specifically, Merriam-Webster defines a life coach as:

“An advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.”Merriam-Webster, Definition of a life coach

All in all, a life coach is akin to a sports coach. They help you through life’s various hurdles so you can reach end-goals as quickly, efficiently, and as safely as possible.

While discussing the definition of “life coach”, it’s important to clarify the distinction between therapists and life coaches. They’re not the same thing.

Therapy involves mental health professionals who diagnose problems and use their training to alleviate their clients from substantial psychological burdens. Therapists are also licensed and regulated by whichever state (or country) they’re practicing in. Mental health work – just as physical health work is – needs to be heavily regulated as the wrong procedures can have severe implications.

Life coaches, meanwhile, work with people who on the whole are healthy, but want that extra bit of help and guidance. And although a life coach might discuss topics such as general mental health, depression, anxiety, and frustration with their clients, they don’t go into the depths that trained mental health practitioners do.

While there is some overlap (both roles help people to better themselves, after all) a life coach is specifically there to:

  • Identify the obstacles getting in the way of their clients’ goals
  • Offer advice on how to tackle those obstacles
  • Create action plans and todo lists for their clients to follow
  • Address negative beliefs, mindsets, and self-talk
  • Emphasize and help instill personal accountability
  • Place a focus on the present and future, rather than the past

Professional life coach and YouTuber Leo Guara lays out the benefits of working with a life coach in the insightful video below.

Now that the purpose of a life coach has been discussed, let’s look at what makes a great life coach.

Inspirational life coaches

Life coaches

From the earlier market research (which states there are over 53 thousand practicing coaches), we know that life coaching is a buzzing, booming industry. More and more people are becoming life coaches as the financial worth of the personal development sector increases.

Now, I don’t want to sabotage your dreams of becoming a great life coach – here at Process Street, we want to help everyone do their best work possible! – but there’s another roadblock in your journey to becoming a life coach guru…

Anybody can be a life coach.

That’s right. There are no state board rules and no requirements to fulfill before calling yourself a coach. You can use the title as soon as you want to start branding yourself as one. All it takes is a little networking, social media know-how, and some business acumen.

But the upside is that it’s easy to determine which coaches are worth their salt.

Let’s take a look at some of the best names in the game (and how they’re using and providing life coach certification themselves).

Inspirational life coaches: Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins Life Coaches
(Source)

If you’re a dedicated Process Street blog reader, you’ll notice that Tony Robbins‘ name has a track record of cropping up in many of our articles. From our previous article on life coaches to the piece I wrote on workplace culture, Robbins’ name has stuck around – not only on our blog but in broader cultural consciousness – for good reason.

Whether you want to call him a motivational speaker, a self-help guru, or a life coach, Robbins’ superpower is the ability to help people.

His advice has helped him become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, the giver of multiple TED talks, and garnered him a personal net worth of over $500 million.

Robbins’ process for life coaching (which he’s instilled as part of his life coach certification program – more on that later) is composed of three simple steps.

  1. The first step is to identify limiting beliefs – the negative thoughts which actively stop us from owning and achieving our dreams.
  2. The second step is to develop positive patterns to overcome these negative beliefs, which in turn will set the client up well for future life.
  3. The third step is to reinforce patterns and achieve goals, where the client is asked to keep on pushing forward and reaching new goals.

Tony Robbins recognizes that to have a real, lasting impact, a coach-client relationship needs to be developed over the years. Just like performance appraisals, breakthroughs can’t happen with irregular contact; there needs to be consistency. It’s a process in the truest sense of the word.

Due to his fame, Robbins is now giving more seminars, talks, and media appearances than 1-on-1 coaching sessions. However, he has set up his own life coach certification and accreditation program. Titled Tony Robbins Results Coaching, the program trains aspiring life coaches from the ground up.

As the website tells us:

“Every life coach who completes Tony Robbins Results Coach training has not only achieved outstanding results in his or her own life, but has an unrivaled commitment to their profession, with more than 250 hours of face-to-face and virtual training completed.

After this, only the most effective coaches go on to become Tony Robbins Results Life Coaches. This rigorous training and selection process is part of what sets our life coaching programs apart from others.”Tony Robbins, Get Coaching, Get Results

Although the Tony Robbins Results Coaching program isn’t ICF-accredited, it is a valuable, hard-earned life coaching certification that many coaching hopefuls wish to have under their belt.

Inspirational life coaches: Lisa A. Romano

Lisa A. Romano - Life Coach
(Source)

While Robbins’ approach is brimming with confidence and gusto, Lisa A. Romano takes a warmer, gentler approach to life coaching – and it’s just as effective.

Teaching primarily through online videos and self-help books, Romano’s focus is on helping people to become more spiritual, self-accepting, and to ultimately overcome negative past events that may be holding them back.

Romano was taught via the Coach Training Alliance, which offers ICF-accredited programs, and she uses her certification as a branding-boosting tool to let clients know that she’s a reputable, reliable coach.

We also featured Romano and her work in a recent post about life coaches.

Inspirational life coaches: Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy - Life Coach
(Source)

Brian Tracy is the David Attenborough of the life coaching world – that’s to say he’s a thoroughly respected and prominent life coach, motivational speaker, and self-development author.

Thanks to his successful life and business coaching career, Tracy built a business empire. But like Robbins, Tracy now only has limited time to provide coaching.

However, it’s mainly the network of Tracy-certified coaches – the FocalPoint Coaching and Training team – who deliver the most direct, long-term coaching experiences for clients.

Again, similar to Robbins, Tracy’s FocalPoint Coaching courses and certifications aren’t ICF-accredited programs. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. This route is perfect for life coaches whose careers have been inspired by Tracy’s, as the training program is directly inspired by Tracy’s methodology and philosophy.

If you’re a life coach who’s looking to solidify their status as a reputable coach, there’s always the option to become a FocalPoint-accredited coach while also undergoing another ICF-accredited program separately!

Inspirational life coaches: Ari Meisel

Ari Meisel - Life Coach
(Source)

It’s fair to say that Ari Meisel is something of a modern-day Renaissance man: He’s a business coach, career coach, productivity coach, and life coach (on top of being an author, speaker, and founder).

But how he got into coaching is no ordinary story.

In his early 20s – 23, to be exact – Meisel found himself with over 3 million dollars worth of debt to his name, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, and 3 businesses that he had to juggle.

Needless to say, he got incredibly ill.

Meisel had to come up with a solution to fix his body, financial situation, and his businesses. And that solution was to automate, optimize, and outsource like a boss.

A few years later, he turned everything around and became a success story. And now he’s coaching others to become success stories themselves.

In terms of coaching, Meisel primarily works with entrepreneurs and founders who are looking to up their productivity and output, while simultaneously decreasing the time they spend working. The coaching is facilitated either 1-to-1, in groups, or online, depending on the coaching course the client has chosen.

At the time of writing, Meisel doesn’t offer life coach training himself, though judging by the reviews he’s received, I’m sure many founders and entrepreneurs would appreciate working with Meisel-certified coaches.

You’ve now looked at four inspirational career coaches and learned what makes them so prolific – on top of learning about some of the life coaching certifications they offer.

But to further bolster your status as a life coach, you’ll want to look into ICF-accredited certification.

Let’s dig into that a little deeper.

What is an ICF life coaching certification?

As previously mentioned, there aren’t legal rules or regulations concerning who can be a life coach; there only needs to be the personal motivation to become one, and then do as much as you can to facilitate great, useful coaching.

That being said, there’s one particular organization which, for over a decade, has made it their mission to set standards for the life coaching industry: The (aforementioned) International Coach Federation.

Think of them as similar to the ISO-governing bodies – they’re there to make sure the procedures in place aren’t shams and, well, work!

As Coach Training EDU explains:

“The ICF is an association dedicated to life coaching but doesn’t actually offer any life coaching services or provide any life coach training. The primary function of the ICF is to establish standards for life coaching and credential individuals as certified life coaches.”Coach Training EDU, ICF Certification

Now, any school or coaching practice can set up a life coaching course which provides students with life coach certification at the end of it. But if the program has been ICF-certified, that shows it’s legit, and the life coach in question has been developed, taught, and trained well.

To boot, the ICF has established a code of ethics that they require their coaches, coach mentors, coaching supervisors, coach trainers and students to abide by.

It’s a solid list – there are nearly 30 steps.

Let’s take a look at some of these ethics in greater detail.

“8). Strive at all times to recognize my personal issues that may impair, conflict with or interfere with my coaching performance or my professional coaching relationships. I will promptly seek the relevant professional assistance and determine the action to be taken, including whether it is appropriate to suspend or terminate my coaching relationship(s) whenever the facts and circumstances necessitate.

17). Ethically speak what I know to be true to clients, prospective clients or sponsors about the potential value of the coaching process or of me as a coach.

18). Carefully explain and strive to ensure that, prior to or at the initial meeting, my coaching client and sponsor(s) understand the nature of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.

20). Hold responsibility for being aware of and setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern interactions, physical or otherwise, I may have with my clients or sponsor(s).”The International Coach Federation, Code of Ethics

These codes – which are expected to be upheld by all ICF-certified professionals – ensure that while the life coaching industry grows, it doesn’t turn into some Wild West free-for-all where morals, ethics, and common decency are thrown out the window in lieu of cash.

The ICF-certified courses are called Accredited Coach Training Programs, or ACTPs, for short.

ACTPs aren’t offered by the ICF themselves, but by third-party companies who employ life coach trainers to impart their knowledge.

These ACTPs have multiple “levels”, as it were, or pre-requisites. These are short courses that are completed one after the other, so by the time you’ve finished 2 or 3 of these short courses, you’ll have completed the ACTP program and become an ICF-certified life coach.

Gaining the full ACTP certification is by no means an easy task: It takes over (at least) 125 hours to complete. However, the pay-off – in both the figurative and financial sense – is more than worth it, as the average North American life coach earns $61,900 annually.

Ultimately, if a life coaching school or center says they offer ACTPs or ICF-accredited courses, that means you’re getting some of the best life coach training in the world. And you’ll come away from the program with legit life coach certification, which may be invaluable to your practice.

Which life coach certification road should you take?

When it comes to life coach certification, you have three options:

  • Take a course provided by a well-known figure, such as Tony Robbins, who has taken the world by storm with their life coaching prowess.
  • Follow an ICF-accredited program which the likes of Coach Training EDU, Academic Life Coaching, and Erickson Coaching offer.
  • Don’t get certified at all!

Although enrolling in a life coach certification program – whatever form it may take – will certainly take time, money, and personal effort, the benefits of having a certification to your name are undeniable (so it’s best to veto option 3).

Specifically, with the certification you’ll be able to:

  1. Fully promote yourself as having undergone coaching development and training (51% of coaches say they hold an ICF credential).
  2. Gain a critical understanding of how to work with people and truly help them clinch short-term and life-long goals alike. (After all, 64% of people seek out a life coach for this exact reason!)
  3. While undergoing training you can meet other leaders, coaches, and students who could be invaluable for networking and career progression.
  4. Have that (necessary) competitive edge over life coaches who have no certifications to fall back on.

All in all, it’s fair to say that gaining certified-status (whether from the ICF or another body) is nothing but advantageous. It bolsters your status as a life coach, shows you have proper training, and that you take the profession seriously.

To help you gain that life coach certification and ensure you become the best life coach possible, why not make use of Process Street-made resources?

How Process Street can help you be a better life coach!

Life coach

Process Street is supercharged checklists.

With our intelligent BPM software – which helps users to follow procedures and processes by the way of checklists – you can not only make sure your life coaching business is run as streamlined and effectively as possible, but you can also make sure your clients’ lives are running smoothly, too.

After signing up for free, you can either make your very own checklists or dive straight into the free templates made by the team here at Process Street.

In terms of the free templates, we have this daily schedule template that you can configure to your own needs. This will make a perfect accompaniment for when you undergo life coach training and need to plan your day around the training. (And if you’re not a life coach, this daily workflow checklist is still incredibly useful!)

And when you start working with clients 1-on-1, use our Tony Robbins, Lisa A. Romano, Brian Tracy, and Ari Meisel-inspired checklists to ensure your clients are getting the most out of their lives.

You can either provide your clients with these checklists straight away, or there’s the option to edit the templates to your liking, so that they coincide with your brand.

With Process Street, you’re in complete control.

Tony Robbins: Morning routine

Lisa A. Romano: Overcoming negative self-talk

Brian Tracy: Public speech preparation

Ari Meisel: Productivity-boosting checklists for your clients’ careers

Last but by no means least, check out the client intake session checklist and SMART goal setting checklist – two invaluable processes for life coaches.

SMART goal setting checklist

Client intake session checklist

And there you have it. Multiple free templates you can take, edit, and use as tools both for yourself and your clients.

Here’s to a happy life. ☀️

Are you a life coach? If so, what life coach certifications do you have, and how well have they served you in your career? Let the Process Street community know in the comment section below! 💡

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Thom James Carter

Thom is a junior content writer at Process Street. He has previously worked in copywriting and content creation for multiple start-ups and SMBs. He’s interested in technology, culture, homebrewing, and hiking up the hills and mountains near his home in Edinburgh, Scotland.


2 Comments

great article. Could you post ways to find life coach local and what it look for in addition to what you already posted?


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