There are many fine life coach schools, academies and institutes. Some are accredited and some not. Should the school’s accreditation make a difference to you? In my opinion, no.
Because there are no universal standards for the life coaching profession, there are no universal standards for schools. Also, because well-paid coaches generally work in a niche, those niches are such that they are developed by the coach independently of any training they might receive.
What makes the issue of accreditation particularly confusing is marketing. Accreditation is being used as a marketing tool in some cases, not as a barometer of their success. Many coaching schools are accredited only because a group of colleagues got together and decided to form a group and accredit their associates’ schools. How do you know whether this is the case for a school you are interested in? You really don’t know and generally can’t find out.
Many schools use accreditation as a marketing ploy to draw you in and charge exorbitant rates. If you just want to spend more money, go ahead. Price really has little to do with the effectiveness of the materials. Mid-range schools generally work harder to please students and offer as good or better training in many cases, because students get more one-on-one time with instructors.
How important is a school’s accreditation? Let’s put it into realistic perspective. What is most important to a prospective coaching client is, can this coach help me? Most clients look to see whether a coach has had formal coach training, but not into the background of the school. And the truth is, clients don’t care whether the school you attended, is accredited. It just doesn’t come up. Clients will decide to use your services if they like you, feel a connection, and see that you offer the solutions they need. That’s pretty much it.
Since coaching is a distinct and relatively new profession, and no universal standards exist, many new schools have come into existence. To build a fence around the training community and the income derived from it, some schools formed organizations to accredit only their schools of choice and make it nearly impossible for a newer school to become accredited. They will mandate applicant schools to show evidence of ten or more years of professional success, before they even consider them for accreditation. Then, they apply personal biases for accrediting schools, so unless a school fits within their philosophies, they aren’t eligible or will not be approved.
Peer Resources ( http://www.peer.ca/coachingschools.html ), recognized world leader in coach training resources states “accreditation” in the coaching field at present has a number of troubling aspects, including its lack of wide-spread acceptance, conflicts of interests between reviewers and some rated schools, minimal reporting of results, and questionable or vague criteria. While accreditation typically means the school has been reviewed by an external source, it does not necessarily mean that “non-accredited schools” provide less value or poorer quality programs.”
So how does the potential coaching student make a sound choice? Here are some ways:
Read student testimonials
Verify the school’s philosophies allign with yours
Contact the school to see if they are prompt with replies to your questions
Look for a school that teaches in your desired niche or target market – Here is an example:
Let’s say you are a Christian and prefer training that agrees with your faith. It will be important to select a Christian (bible-based) certification course. Admittedly training from a true biblical world view offers few options. Most are secular programs that have been repackaged to appeal to a Christian student. Some are accredited and some not. But this should not matter, because there is no governing body to decide whose course is best. There are two types of accreditation for coaching schools, Christian and secular. A school that offers uncompromisingly biblical content will seek Christian accreditation and uphold those standards. The Christian schools with accreditation from secular accrediting bodies are less likely to have substantive biblical content, because secular groups frequently subscribe to new age or Eastern philosophies and may influence course content and materials. Additionally, a school whose leaders have a true biblical perspective will seek Godly approval, while others will seek man’s approval.
Through my research and contact with various institutions, there was only one Christian coaching school which impressed me. That is the Professional Christian Counseling and Coaching Academy. (http://www.pccca.org). PCCCA offers training and certification for Christian Life Coaches and Christian Counselors. The current economy has given Christian coaches and counselors a major boost while many secular coaches find themselves out of work and out of business. In tight economic times luxuries are first to go, but people are seeking God’s direction more than ever.
I found PCCCA stands on their principles of faith, maintains the integrity of their programs and consistently strives for excellence. Their programs have been newly revised in 2010 for content and expanded business and marketing components that include social media. What is more, they offer one-to-one training with practicing coaches, serving as coach training instructors. Any coaching school’s success relies on what they bring to the table with their skills, integrity, reasonable fees and knowledge. Add that to superb training and you have an unbeatable combination. While PCCCA has Christian Coaching School Accreditation, and has received their highest recognition with the Award of Excellence, prospective students can be assured they do not have secular ties or accreditation.
Regardless of your world view, I recommend that prospective coaching students not be persuaded by gimicky advertising, high fees and accreditation. Look for the best school for you. Period.
The author, Emery Hilton-Goode is a freelance writer specializing in entrepreneurial strategies and career training. You may contact the author at email@example.com