Every decade seems to come with its own branding. Post-Baby Boomer generations are named with letters. Job descriptions are re-packaged, re-branded, and re-named. And entrepreneurial businesses, like that of a certified professional life coach, trend according to the interests and predicted needs of the moment.
It was only a couple of decades ago, for example, when online dating was a virtual unknown.
Singles would answer ads in the classifieds and call numbers that led to assigned voice mailboxes.
Some joined dating services like Great Expectations and had to drive to the franchise location to view candidates.
There was no uploading a profile from home. And there was no one there to provide valuable coaching in the world of dating.
Even though the genre of “life coaching” has a history dating back to the 1980s, it has really expanded since the new millennium.
And with the rush to piggyback on a “great idea” has come an often loose definition of “coach,” especially in the area of dating and relationships.
If someone tells you they’re a doctor. You know they went to medical school and passed rigorous training and testing. You assume that they are qualified because you know they have gone through internship and residency programs and have passed their board exams. This is because the medical profession has very strict standards.
You can’t call yourself a doctor unless you have an MD or a PhD.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true for the coaching profession. It isn’t regulated that way. And there’s a big difference between a certified professional life coach and someone who simply uses the title of “coach.” People call themselves coaches when they really should be calling themselves “consultants.” They don’t coach, they only give advice and recommendations.
What does this mean for you, the single person looking for guidance in finding true love?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful, and whole.
Unfortunately, this definition also allows anyone to call themselves a coach today. Most people don’t question a coach’s professional training and background. And there are coaches and matchmakers who go for 3-day business trainings at a conference and call themselves “certified coaches.” These certified coaches are very different from certified professional life coaches. And for most consumers, the similarities in the titles make the distinction between the two seem unimportant. Yet there is a huge difference.
To be a certified professional life coach, you must go through an extensive ICF-approved coach training program and pass exams (including a 3-hour one). You demonstrate proficiency in specific coaching skills. There is a body of knowledge to learn along with supervision and feedback from your trainers. You must be coached by a mentor coach and adhere to specific Ethics Standards.
In other words, working with an ICF coach means you can count on their skill, professionalism, and expertise as a coach.
So what drew me to the dating and relationship niche and to the commitment of becoming a certified professional life coach?
I was drawn to the dating and relationship niche for coaching from my life experiences. I went through a divorce in my mid-30s.
I wanted to marry again and start a family and began dating. Yet, instead of finding someone to settle down and start a family with, I was jumping from one relationship to another. I didn’t understand how I was sabotaging my relationships.
When I recognized I wasn’t getting anywhere with dating, I hired a relationship coach. Fortunately, my coach pointed out my limiting beliefs and helped me develop a better sense of myself. He also guided me to identify what I needed to be happy in a relationship.
After gaining clarity by working with my relationship coach, I met my husband in the summer of 2001. We got married a year later.
I realized that in order to fulfill my life goals, other things in my life needed to change. I was in my 40s and needed to reduce my stress and the demands on my time because I wanted to have a child. So, I closed the women’s clothing boutique I owned for 13 years.
My next entrepreneurial endeavor was an image and personal shopping business called Amy’s Eye for Style. I helped my clients best use their current wardrobe and was their personal shopper for the additional wardrobe items that would best serve them. In this work, I used my many fashion and visual talents to help my clients feel the best they could in their outfits for all their lifestyle needs.
Yet, something interesting was happening. Friends and business colleagues were sending people to me who needed help with dating. My friends and colleagues knew I very actively pursued a marriage partner and had done much to meet my husband. They told those who were seriously searching, “You need to talk to Amy about dating.”
So, I started helping people find true love even before I was a coach.
With a baby in my future, I knew the wardrobe business would not be a good fit for a mom who was home with a baby. I couldn’t see myself spending hours at my client’s homes and keeping up on the latest styles and items in the local clothing and department stores.
My need to again reinvent my work life to support my desire to be a mom led me to work with a career coach. After going through her assessments, she recommended several possible career paths. And then she mentioned life coaching. I had no clue what a life coach was. (This was in 2003!)
As I researched this field, I found it would capitalize on many of my skills. It would also challenge me to learn and grow. And because I was already networking with life coaches for my image business, I had access to coaches with whom I could explore what being a life coach had entailed.
It was then I was introduced to Coach Training Institute (CTI). I attended their introductory weekend training and was hooked. I knew the full training would give me the tools I needed to help my single clients.
I completed my coach training over the course of a year. I took the exam and was certified in 2005 by CTI (now called the Co-Active). And the rest is history!
As I certified professional life coach, I’ve coached hundreds of singles.
I had my son in 2008 which led me to work part-time as a coach for a couple of years. Now I coach about two dozen clients at any given time. My clients are both men and women and range in age from 30 to 70+.
In 2016, I completed the requirements of my Professional Coach Certification (PCC) which is the highest certification ICF offers. And to maintain my PCC status, I must complete over 40 hours of coach training within a 3-year timeframe. I enjoy the learning opportunities and being able to bring more knowledge and tools to my coaching.
Here I am 16 years later. I’ve coached hundreds of singles who desire a long-term committed relationship or a marriage partner. I find this work very fulfilling and love to see my clients achieve all their life and relationship goals.
I’m very much at home with this work and find it very fulfilling. I will be continuing to help my clients meet their relationship goals in a positive and proactive way that celebrates who they are and the gifts they have to offer a life partner.
So the next time you consider working with a coach, ask them about their training and life experiences. It matters.
Wishing you happiness in life and love!