Steffi Black mentioned in article on How to Hire a Life Coach

Oct 03, 2012





Need a little direction in your life or career? Is that rut you’ve been in feeling less like a rough patch and more like a lifestyle? It might be time to call in a professional.

“It’s a good idea to look for a life coach when you’re stuck, you seem to be spinning your wheels, and your gut tells you there’s something more, and that you need to make a change,” said Robin Samora, president of Let’s Make You Shine in Boston, MA.

So what do life coaches do, exactly? Generally, they help you clarify your life and career goals and develop a plan to make them happen. A coach will help you set up the steps you need to take and follow up—either in person, by phone, or online—as you work through each step. You will need to do the work, but the coach will serve as a guide and facilitator.

“A life coach is to a therapist as a personal trainer is to a doctor,” said Nancy Sherr, life coach and owner of A Zestful Life. “Life coaches work on forward momentum and goal-attainment tailored to the client.” (There are times, however, when you may need some extra-professional help. If you suffer from burnout, and you think depression may be a factor, you should talk to your doctor and work with a therapist.)

The costs of coaching vary widely, depending on the region of the country and the coach’s experience and credentials. In a major city like New York or Los Angeles, $150 to $300 a session or $500 to $1,000 a month is not unreasonable for top coaches, said John McGrail, life coach and author of The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation (Career Press, 2012).

Many coaches create packages or have sliding-scale fees to accommodate clients with all ranges of income. Coach Steffi Black in Toronto said she charges $90 per session to students and the unemployed, and $150 for working clients. Her three-month intensive package, including email and phone follow-up, starts at $1,200.

So how do you find the right coach to make your investment pay?

Coaching is not a licensed profession, but there are a number of coaching organizations that offer training and certification. Most coaches will belong to one or more of them, and these organizations are a good place to start looking, advises Keri Kuerbis Lehmann, a coach in the San Francisco area. The International Coach Federation will help you find certified coaches, but contacting coaching schools will give you a clearer view of the coach’s philosophy, she said. The ICF has a referral service and membership directory online and a tip sheet with sample questions to ask a prospective coach.

Most coaches will offer a complimentary session to see if there’s a fit between coach and client, notes Amelia Gandomi Lewis, owner and coach of Advance Yourself Coaching. “Do you feel an instant rapport and understanding with the coach, or as if you are talking to someone from another planet? Your instincts will tell you if it feels right,” she said.

McGrail advises making sure you find someone who works in the areas you want to improve, and ask for referrals to past clients you can talk to. “If a potential coach will not offer you a chance to talk with clients with whom they have worked on similar issues,” he said, “in two words—don’t go!”

McGrail also suggests looking for someone who will not only teach you how to get where you want to be, but also show you the tools to work on your own, not expect you to stay dependent on them. “Someone who keeps you hanging on and writing checks may not be as interested in your empowerment as in filling their pockets with your money,” he said.

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