In this 4-part special series, Noel Posus provides a great overview of Life Coaching including: WHEN it started; the development of techniques and skills; HOW and WHY it works.

Concepts discussed in Part 1, Part 2  and Part 3 (click to view full article):

  • Overview of Life Coaching (Part1)
  • Definitions of Coaching (Part1)
  • Types Of Coaching (Part1)
  • Coaching versus Counselling and Other Helping Professions (Part 2)
  • The Research Behind Life Coaching (Part 2)
  • Coaching Methodologies and Tools (Part 3)

Professional Standards & Organisations

There are many organisations around the world that support the coaching industry in one way or another. Some profess to be “The Professional Association” for coaches, however, there is little consensus within the coaching community as to which is the “right” one.

Some of the larger professional groups within the coaching community are:

  • International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • The European Coaching Institute (ECI)
  • The International Association of Coaches (IAC)

Many coaches, but not all, have some affiliation with one or more of these associations and organisations.

There are also specialty groups for business and executive coaching, coaching psychology and mentoring.

The coaching industry is unlikely to be regulated in the near future, and although there have been some attempts by various organisations to drive self-regulation, the coaching fraternity has not yet agreed who is best to drive this process.

Selecting a Coach

Choosing a coach can be a very personal thing, and it may be important to take time to find the right match of personality, skills, qualifications, experience and style.

Qualifications widely vary and are not always recognised by certain professional associations. This is not necessarily something to be concerned about as an individual’s credibility, capability and competency can be measured through interviewing techniques.

Below are some areas for consideration when interviewing a potential coach, in no particular order.

  • Coach training
  • Ongoing professional development
  • Industry affiliations and credentials
  • Personal and professional experience
  • Styles of coaching
  • Assessments, tools and models
  • Testimonials and references
  • Coaching topics and areas of expertise
  • Philosophy of coaching
  • Services offered & delivery methods (eg. in person, phone, etc)
  • Rates, packages and special deals
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Availability
  • Referral process if needed
  • Insurance

For some clients, it may also be incredibly important to pay attention to intuition and what feels right or not with the potential coach.

Many coaches have a Coaching Agreement, where the coach and client agree to certain terms and conditions, rights, responsibilities and permissions based on their individual roles.

In some cases, these are binding contracts, while in other cases they are coaching tools to ensure there is an operating and performance measurement system in place to ensure all parties are aware of, and demonstrating integrity to their responsibilities within the coaching relationship.

Coaching is most successful when the relationship between client and coach is trusting, open, confidential, supportive and frequently reviewed to ensure it is providing value and meeting the expectations of both parties. Coaching requires a commitment to make it work by both coach and client.

Acknowledgements & Further Reading

Many sources of information have been used to create this document. The key references have been:

  1. “Coaching Psychology”, Grant, InPsych, June 2007.
  2. “Cognitive-Behavioural, Solution-Focused Life Coaching:  Enhancing Goal Striving, Well-being and Hope”, Green, Oades and Grant, 2006.
  3. “Positive Psychology Progress:  Empirical Validation of Interventions”, Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005.

For further reading on Positive Psychology, visit the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Centre website’s listings of media, articles, videos, research and books. Many Wikipedia definitions where also explored, and components where included in some sections of this document.

About the Author:

This article is an excerpt from the paper Understanding Life Coaching written by Noel Posus, Master Coach and Director of, reprinted here with his permission. Noel is also the current Coach of the Year awarded by the Australian New Zealand Institute of Coaching. He is also a Master Coach and instructor with the Life Coaching Institute.