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Do I need to be certified to coach? By Linda Hedberg

The “big” question about certification is “do I need it?”  And if you ask around, you’ll get widely varied answers – in many cases very strongly stated. Your answer depends on your personal vision and goals.  However, the reasons professional certification is pursued by Christian coaches include the following.

Why is certification important? 

Well, increasingly it matters to clients – including churches and ministry organizations. Judy Santos, MCC, founder and director of the Christian Coaches Network, reports that even in the Christian community potential clients and hiring organizations are more frequently seeking coaches with ICF (International Coach Federation) credentials.  As the writer of this post, I can report that my accredited training and coaching certification contributed to landing my largest coaching contract.  

Also, many think that licensing of coaches will become required in the future as the profession matures.  So the training decisions you make now could have implications in the future regarding your ease and ability to gain licensing. 

If no states require licensing for coaches, why does certification matter?

Yes, it’s true that there are practicing life coaches who have never had professional life coach training.  They can be successful in business and they can be good coaches, but they’ve never pursued training or ICF certification and they don’t plan to. 

No, they aren’t violating state (US) regulations at this point. That doesn’t mean coaches are free and clear from any possible interest from their state’s governing body.  In some states coaches have faced challenges – in particular where their work may be perceived as counseling or therapy (just to clarify – that’s not a good thing).  ICF has information available on these issues.  You may also want to check with your local ICF chapter to learn what other professional coaches in your area know about these issues in your state. 

If Christian life coaches were ordained, would that exempt them from possible future state regulations?

No.  That is not likely – based on a thoughtful look at the experience of Christian counselors and churches who have relied on this strategy in an attempt to avoid regulation.  In an article published in the Journal of Christian Coaching (Summer 2008), director of the Professional Christian Coach Training Program at ILCT, Christopher McCluskey, PCC, reminds us, “many churches have been successfully sued, and often completely shut-down or put into bankruptcy, because of critical errors made in counseling by their ordained counseling staff.  Thousands of churches have closed their counseling centers, or forced their counselors to establish professional practices separate from the church, in order to avoid huge liability risks.”  Of course, this does not de-value ordination for other reasons.

Linda Hedberg is the author of The Complete Guide to Christian Coach Training.  Her broad knowledge of the field and her desire to see Christian coaches set a foundation for success is reflected at, where she provides resources, cleasses and coaching dedicated to helping prospective and new coaches thrive in business, ministry and life. 



2 Responses to “Do I need to be certified to coach? By Linda Hedberg”

  1. Lee Arlington says:

    Where/how do I start to transition from Christian Counseling to Christian Coaching? I seem to be running into a closed loop on your web sites. Do you do Coaching training and certification?

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