I have a friend who has been working as a medical interpreter all his life – every time a non-French speaking patient would visit a hospital or medical centre in the Nantes district and doctors could not communicate with him, they would call Henry – my friend – and speak to the patient with the assistance of an interpreter. That is how Henry became acquainted with cases related to cardiology, pulmonology, psychiatry, gynecology, surgery and many others. Throughout the period of 30 years as an interpreter he would translate conversations between patients and doctors, learning about different diseases, injuries and illnesses. His experience gave him so much confidence that currentlyc, if his friends call him and complain about their health, he would ask them tens of questions, as the doctor does, and make a diagnosis after. We had a serious discussion a while ago – I asked him if listening to medical conversations, even if there were thousands of them, make him a doctor and give him the right to act as one. Doesn’t it take years of hard work to get a doctor’s degree?
A certified coach? Haven’t heard of one…
The same rule applies to coaches. The journey to become a certified coach is maybe not as long but it also requires theoretical and practical knowledge which are fundamental to this profession. To become a professional certified coach you need to complete the entire coach training program. In my case it was the International Coach Federation (ICF) Accredited Coach Training Program at Erickson Coach International – the school which only certifies those who deserve the title and those who continue the journey with commitment and dedication, following the ICF guidelines. The program consists of many hours of theoretical knowledge followed by many hours of coaching practice. During the training future coaches discover that pure coaching is about asking powerful questions – we are not there to provide advice, to comment, to share our opinions – this is what therapists and counselors do. A professional coach will be able to help his client by forming an accurate, appropriate, to the point question and NOTHING ELSE. He can obviously share with the client what he has just noticed while listening to him but he would randomly give advice or share his point of view – it happens only if the coach sees that it might be useful for the process and moreover the client allows his coach to do so. During the training future coaches get acquainted with the ICF Code of Ethics – the coaching bible I would say which guides you through the whole coaching journey. An important part of the training I was really fond of regarded learning about the human mind, decision making process and peoples’ emotions. Without a knowledge in this field you can really get lost while working with so many different clients, having different value systems, way of processing information, reactions, dealing with challenges – you need to know how to assist them and how not to harm them.
A coach is not a therapist
A very important part of the training which I have found a key for my future career was gaining knowledge when to refer clients to other specialists – we are being advised not to work with people suffering from depression, neurosis and other serious diseases – this is a job for psychiatrists and therapists, not coaches. You need to have a deep knowledge about the diseases as such and even the best coaching training will not provide you with that. You can’t be a doctor while working as an interpreter which doesn’t mean you are not a great interpreter!
Last but not least
Before passing the final exam and receiving certification you have to complete 10 hours of coaching practice with other coaches to-be as well as 6 hours of mentoring sessions with trainers accredited by ICF. During the time spent with your peers you would hold coaching sessions with them, become a client of theirs and also have the opportunity to become an observer of a coaching session with the right to express your opinion. Powerful six hours of mentoring is a time where your mentors would guide you into your coaching practice and help you to improve your coaching skills by listenning to your recorded coaching sessions and commenting on what worked well and indicating some even better ifs. Only when you accomplish aforementioned activities are you allowed to approach the final exam.
Spread the word
All the bad press that coaches have comes mainly from the fact that people tend to call themselves “coaches” while having nothing or not much to do with this profession. They work with clients – sometimes people with a serious bunch of problems – and instead of helping them, they harm them. This is when word of mouth spreads and tarnishes the reputation of professional coaches. Now as you became acquainted with my view on why it is important to work with a certified coach I hope your opinion on this profession changes or if it was already positive, hopefully you will hand on my message to the world!