In this episode of the Best Life (Coach) Podcast, we’re discussing:

  • The recent CBC investigation into the Life Coaching industry
  • What being a life coach means
  • The fine line between therapy and coaching
  • Misconceptions in the Life Coaching industry
  • How to find a credible life coach

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Ep. 5: Finding a Credible Life Coach in an Unregulated Industry | Pin Image!




Best Life Coach Collective 0:00
Intro (music by DJ Shadowfigure)

Melissa Byone  0:40  

How are you guys? 

Sarah Mae  0:44  

Good. Getting better these days, I, I cut my hand really bad a few weeks ago, in the kitchen being stupid. And it’s starting to really heal up and I’m trying to get full use of my hand again. So things are getting better for me.

Melissa Byone  1:02  

It’s like, you totally don’t realize how much you can use your hand until you don’t have it, right?

Sarah Mae  1:06  

Hell ya. All of a sudden, I’m like super grateful that I have two hands. Like every day, I’m like writing down my three things I’m grateful for. I’m like, two hands. 

Stephanie Nelb  1:18  


Melissa Byone  1:20  

So how are you dealing with only having one?

Sarah Mae  1:25  

My husband doing most of the things are like covering it with a glove. Trying to use it anyway, for the first little bit. It was really painful. So I couldn’t really do that. But it’s been it hasn’t been super painful. lately. I’ve just had to cover it. Yeah, how about you Steph?

Stephanie Nelb  1:47  

I’m good, happy to have two hands that I can use. So there’s always that I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately, and just getting outside now that it’s starting to get a little bit warmer. So I’ve really enjoyed that. And it’s just kind of my soothing activity. So it’s a lot of fun. What about you, Melissa, what have you been up to?

Melissa Byone  2:08  

You know, recently, my partner got a metal detector. And he’s super excited about it. So we’ve been going to the beach a lot. And while he metal detects I get to sit and read a book. And so I really, really, really enjoyed that I just finished Educated, which was a really great read, highly recommend.

Stephanie Nelb  2:32  

What’s that one about?

Melissa Byone  2:35  

Um, it is a about it’s a memoir. It’s about a girl who kind of grew up off the grid and her experience in going to school and like becoming a doctor. Like HD. It’s very, very, it’s very, very, very interesting. She came from like a very religious background that lived off the grid to like, learning about history, her first day in college. So it’s very, very interesting. A different perspective on life.

Stephanie Nelb  3:07  

Yeah, that sounds really cool. It’s always good to get those unique perspectives and just different perspectives from what we have.

Sarah Mae  3:17  

I don’t remember the last time I read a memoir.

Melissa Byone  3:22  

Yeah, it was really good. I tried to like bounce back and forth between like self development and health, then something about somebody’s life and how they came to be who they are.

Stephanie Nelb  3:33  

I always find that there’s so many books to read and there’s never enough time. Exactly. Very similar bookshelf you can’t see on camera.

Sarah Mae  3:47  

I have a whole shelf down here just of books that I haven’t read yet. And then I have a whole closet of books too in my bedroom.

Melissa Byone  3:54  

Oh my gosh, I just got the best idea for our next podcast. We like do book reviews. We each bring like five books.

Stephanie Nelb  4:02  

Love it. Love that idea. 

Melissa Byone  4:05  

Stay tuned.

Sarah Mae  4:08  

A lot of books to recommend.

Stephanie Nelb  4:11  

Yeah. What do you have there in the smoothie? 

Melissa Byone  4:18  


Stephanie Nelb  4:18  

Oh, I haven’t seen that. 

Melissa Byone  4:22  

Athletic Greens. 

Stephanie Nelb  4:24  

Oh okay, I’ve heard the name I just have not seen that container.

Melissa Byone  4:28  

Yeah, I really like it. It’s like one of the things – Tim Ferriss like talks about it a lot. I really like it. And I mean, it’s pretty simple, like, just like a scoop of powder in water. It’s like a bunch of vitamins and minerals. I like to have it first thing in the morning. And it’s kind of eliminated the need for all the different vitamins I used to take cuz like D and C and like magnesium, but everything else is kind of like you’re treating them here. 

Sarah Mae  5:08  

Does it taste good?

Stephanie Nelb  5:13  

Haha that’s a no. 

Melissa Byone  5:14  

It doesn’t taste bad. Like, I has like kind of a flavor.

Sarah Mae  5:19  

Is there a flavor in it?

Melissa Byone  5:21  

It tastes like – no, no, it’s not like chocolate.

Stephanie Nelb  5:28  

Oh, yeah, that’d be gross anyways.

Sarah Mae  5:30  

So today, we’re going to talk a little bit about how unregulated the life coaching industry is and how that’s being talked about a lot these days. 

On the CBC, they have a marketplace, which kind of does exposes on different industries. And so they did investigation into the life coaching industry, and kind of went undercover and hire some different life coaches. And one of the investigators kind of went on the education site Udemy. 

And they paid like, what, like 20 bucks for a life coaching course, and didn’t do any of the work and just like, did the test three times and then became certified, and were able to then call themselves a certified life coach. And they went undercover to hire some life coaches, and they were finding a very shady line between like, coaching and therapy. So that would be an interesting topic for us to discuss. Any thoughts on it?

Stephanie Nelb  6:35  

Yeah, let’s dive right into it. I’m very curious to hear a little bit more about this bridge between therapy and coaching. And where these coaches were going a little too far over the line.

Sarah Mae  6:46  

Yeah, and one of the segment’s the person was kind of tiptoeing around, like being in recovery, or like wanting to like deal with like alcoholism. And so the coach was kind of clear that they weren’t qualified to do that. But then they also said that they could help with some of the mindset and stuff around that. 

So I thought I thought that was was interesting, because there is a fine line there. Have you had any instances where you’ve been coaching on that line?

Stephanie Nelb  7:30  

I haven’t had any instances, in my own coaching business where this has come up, I always make it really clear in my discovery calls with the client that I am in no way a therapist and that the problems that life coaches solve are a bit different. And when when a therapist might start to get involved. 

But I have a really good example of the right way to do this. It’s actually with my personal trainer that I’m working with right now. And I am super injury prone. So there’s definitely a point where me working out turns into me worrying about getting hurt or having small pains that could lead into something bigger. And I have brought some of those concerns to my personal trainer, where she has drawn that hard line in the sand and said, I can advise you from a personal training standpoint, I can move away from workouts that are hurting you and move more towards things that do feel a little bit more comfortable. 

But she’s very clear at not diagnosing that and knows exactly when to pass me off to my physical therapist instead. Which I thought was just such a great example of the right way to do it. Because to your point, Sarah, there are so many people out there, especially in life coaching that are doing it wrong. What about you, Melissa, have you encountered this problem at all?

Melissa Byone  8:53  

I have coached a few people who do have therapists. And I think that’s really beneficial. Like sometimes it’ll come up what they talk to their therapist about. I think that part of what coaching is is not necessarily like giving advice or diagnosis or anything like that. So if you are truly just coaching and asking these really good powerful questions, then you won’t have to worry so much about crossing this line. Because you aren’t offering any personal advice or anything that you necessarily think.

Sarah Mae  9:26  

Yeah, I think it’s a really important distinction in coaching and I think coaching like life coaching as well is so broad that you almost have to like define ‘What even is life coaching?’. Because, like is a career coach a life coach? Like, I focus on productivity. Am I a life coach? Like, what is that? What makes a life coach a life coach? Or is that a broader term? 

Stephanie Nelb  10:21  

Yeah. It’s really what is coaching in general, we think of coaching in the sense of how we’ve been trained as life coaches of asking questions, not giving people advice, just helping them to uncover the answers for themselves. 

But to your point, there are other types of coaches out there who, you know, an athletic coach of some sort, they are telling you what to do, and the word is being used in a very different way. And so I think that’s part of the struggle that we see in this industry where someone’s coming in and saying, Okay, I want to be a life coach, and they think it’s all about giving advice. And you know, some even go into that without any certification whatsoever, which is a little scary. 

And that’s where you have stuff like this coming up where someone is, in air quotes, coaching another individual, when really, they’re just telling them what they think that person should do. And that’s where I think we see, you know, like, in this news segment, some coaches getting into hot water. 

I was actually reading an article, I think, shortly after you shared that new segment with us Sarah. I was reading an article about Life Coaching School, but I saw some what was, to me very surprising criticism online – but as I dug into it, made a lot of sense – around whether that school is setting coaches up for success, and there were a lot of, you know, women who listened to the podcast, and then from there, they decided, you know, what, maybe I could be a life coach, too. 

And so they went into this coaching program, which is not ICF certified, and they got an education. But then they didn’t know what to do with it afterwards. They weren’t really taught in any way, you know, what’s next? And they felt really misled. And as some coaches brought this to the school, the answer that they received back was, it’s all your mindset. It’s, it’s about your mindset, and the way you’re thinking about this, and if you’re thinking about it in the wrong way, you’re not going to be successful. 

And I do think there is some truth to that. You definitely have to have the mindset there in order to succeed, but that was being shoved down these coaches’ throats in a way instead of, you know, hearing out how the program could be improved. And so I thought that was kind of interesting to see like, not only is it on the coach to client side, but even a coaching organization that is not ICF accredited, may not always be the best fit either.

Sarah Mae  13:09  

What is the ICF accreditation? Can we explain that a bit?

Stephanie Nelb  13:15  

Yeah, it’s great point. Do you want me to take that or just someone else? Okay. 

So the ICF is the International Coaching Federation. And it is a nonprofit governing body who serves to standardize the coaching industry and provide some ethics and rigor to it so that it’s not just the ‘Wild Wild West’, as we tend to see sometimes. 

So being associated with the ICF, getting your credentials with them, can be really beneficial. Because when clients are looking for a life coach, having those ICF credentials goes a long way to indicating that this person has the right training, can help you and they’re not going to go above their abilities in order to do so.

Sarah Mae  14:01  

Yeah, or at the very least, that the certification that they hold, is ICF approved. Because there’s so many certifications out there that aren’t like the ones you can get for 15 bucks on these course websites.

Stephanie Nelb  14:22  

And that’s what’s wild right, because we took a nine month long, very intensive course in order to become certified life coaches, again, ICF accredited. But there are these one hour classes that you can take out there and then someone can just go and call themselves a life coach.

Melissa Byone  14:44  

I think one of the biggest parts about it is like hours practicing and practicing with someone who’s done it before and critiquing you. Being aware that you’re actually learning how you can help someone because without practice hours like, I know, I would have like, probably zero idea of what I’m actually supposed to be doing, like what the end results supposed to look like. 

Like how the conversation goes, like, I can’t imagine taking like a few hour course and then feeling ready like that I could actually help someone. Because it does take practice, like being centered enough to not be thinking about yourself, like really thinking about the person that you’re coaching, holding space for them is huge. That takes practice, I think it takes practice to, to be, to learn the right things to ask. 

Sarah Mae  15:49  

100% Yeah, I found the practice, so helpful and sending in recordings of your coaching to get feedback from, like the instructors. So that you, you, it’s that way, you know that what you’re doing is actually, like, meets the ICF standards.

Melissa Byone  16:15  

Yeah, the standards. And like, I mean, if you’re with an instructor who’s been doing this for years, and has hundreds of hours of coaching under their belt, like, it’s great to learn from somebody who’s been there and done it, and I can help you help someone that isn’t just looking at something online. Like, sometimes that’s not enough, you need the practice hours.

Stephanie Nelb  16:41  

Yeah, that’s so true. And I think for anyone out there who is interested in hiring a coach, it might even be worth going to the ICF website, and looking at what it takes to have an ICF accredited program, because it is very intensive. And it’s the complete opposite of those one hour programs on, you know, platforms like Udemy. So really knowing who you’re putting your trust into, I think is really important.

Sarah Mae  17:11  

Yeah. And that’s, to that point. That’s why we have our directory of coaches because the coaches that we have on our directory all have accreditations. If they’re a life coach, that is ICF approved accreditations. So, does a coach, a life coach, need to have these certifications? Or what if they have like tons of experience in what they’re coaching? Does that not stand on its own?

Melissa Byone  17:44  

I guess I would ask how how they started? Like, I think that there are tools that you learn in a certification class, and ways about kind of a flow of a conversation even then be helpful in trying to coach someone, if you just, kind of, start one day and you say ‘I’m a coach’ and you’ve been doing it for 10 years, I’m sure you’ve probably figured out, through some misses, the right flow. 

So I kind of ask like, how did you start out? Like, did you just decide one day and then over 10 years, you figured out what works and what doesn’t? Like, I think you could still be a good coach. 

But there are, by going through certification and a class that’s structured with instructors who’ve been there and done that, and they’ve come together and created a credentialing body and rules to follow, I just kind of feel like, that’s what I would choose, rather than – like taking an analogy of like a doctor, like, I’m sure there’s someone in a forest somewhere who’s been practicing with things in the forest for years and years, but I would prefer the one whose book learned, you know, it’s just what I would choose.

Stephanie Nelb  19:19  

I absolutely agree with that. I was gonna say something very similar in the sense that, you know, you can have all the practice in the world, but if you have practice in the wrong thing, like, for example, going back to the beginning, where we talked about giving advice, instead of listening to the client, helping them to discover solutions for themselves. You know, if you’re just giving advice for 10 years, then sure, you know how to do something really well. But is it life coaching? Not according to the ICF.

Sarah Mae  19:46  

Yeah, I think that’s a really important distinction. Is that like coaching is, it’s asking questions, it’s not giving advice. And I think that that’s where people get in, get confused with it. And also I see so many coaches, business coaches trying to help people get from not having a coaching, like they want to have a coach practice, but they don’t have certification and see so many times the advice that like you don’t need it, like you’re wasting your time you don’t need it, you can be successful without it. 

And I, that worries me because, sure, maybe you don’t need it and you can build success without it. But you maybe aren’t going to be serving your clients well, because you don’t know how to run a call in a way that’s like trauma-informed and knows that you’re just, you’re asking questions, and you’re not straddling that line into into therapy by overstepping. If that make sense.

Melissa Byone  20:52  

One thing that really coming up for me is like – okay, so someone who isn’t actually a coach, someone who’s a health advisor would say, eat these things, three times a day, and you’ll feel good. Okay, I think we can all say that that’s direction and advice. A coach would help you come up with those three things. What would work for you? 

In asking questions. It’s not telling you what to do. It’s guiding you, kind of, in a way to find your own answers. Because me telling you what to do isn’t going to make you do it, you’re going to do it when it’s your idea. So here’s the difference for me. I can tell you what to do all day but if you don’t, if it’s not your idea, and you haven’t decided that that’s what’s for you, you’re not going to do it, and then it’s not effective.

Stephanie Nelb  21:58  

Yeah, I think you really hit the nail on the head there. The reason we do things the way we do, why ICF does things or has outlined things in the way that they have, is to help make the client the most successful. And if we are telling people what to do all the time, they’re not going to do it! Nobody wants to do things that other people tell them to do. You know, you see that all the time. So yeah, I think that’s the crux of it right there.

Sarah Mae  22:29  

Can you think of any other like misconceptions that there are about the industry out there?

Melissa Byone  22:35  

It’s kind of interesting to say you often find coaches coaching coaches, because they see the value in coaching. So I guess like maybe a misconception is that, why would I need a coach if I’m doing everything like just fine on my own? Or, like, does it really work?

Sarah Mae  23:09  

Yeah. It’s easy to feel like, well, why don’t I just go see a therapist. Then like, if you’ve never been coached, it’s hard to know how powerful it is. But people that have been coached before, know how powerful it is, they’re willing to like spend their money and have that experience, because they’ve seen the value, and I think, that’s why you end up with so many coaches, coaching coaches.

Stephanie Nelb  23:39  

And that too, is why you’ll see many coaches offer a free call upfront, and why we require it of all of our coaches as well. So that you can start to show that value to a potential client before they’re putting any money down. Because it is a big decision, and no one’s going to put their money in a place where they’re not sure if that’s going to help them or not. 

And so I think it’s really important for coaches to show that value before a client is putting money down. And then the client hopefully has some confidence and is more excited in their decision to go with that coach. 

Sarah Mae  24:16  

Yeah, I think it goes both ways, the importance of a discovery call as well. Or just like a q&a call. Because I’ve seen a lot of coaches that get more established and they stop offering those calls. And they’re like, I don’t need to I know that what I offer is a value. So I don’t need to get on those calls. 

But at the same time, like how do you know that what you have to offer is good for this specific person and how do you know that this person is going to be a good fit for working with you? Like you want to enjoy the work as well, right? So I think that it goes both ways as to why it’s important to have those calls.

Melissa Byone  24:51  

Well, to the point of like therapy and coaching. I’ve started to notice a lot more therapists taking on a coaching role as well. That’s kind of like the difference like therapy is looking at the past. But then coaching is very forward looking. So I think they’re both really great together. Sometimes, if there are a lot of past things that you’re dealing with, then it’s good to start with therapy. So that you can move forward.

Stephanie Nelb  25:33  

I’ll add to that, I think that is so true in the sense that you can solve a problem two different ways. And what I mean by that is a client might come to you as a coach, and you might be able to help them solve their problem by figuring out what the next best action steps are to go forward. But there might also be an underlying problem that we can start to get to as coaches. 

But as soon as it crosses into the space of therapy, in the sense of, you know, maybe this is a repeated pattern that’s come up in the past before and where this stems from in their past, a therapist can then solve it from that lens as well. So I do think it could be kind of interesting to combine the two or take the same problem to both your coach and your therapist and see how it differs that way. Is there anything else that we want to make sure people get out of our chat today?

Melissa Byone  26:36  

I think this know what you’re signing up for, like just because somebody calls themselves a coach, like, ask them like, what makes you say that, like, have you gone through training? How many other people have you coached? Looking at testimonials is a really good place to start. Have they helped other people like, achieve their goals? Or the types of goals that they’ve helped them achieve what you’re looking to achieve? 

And just like do your homework. Don’t just take everything at face value. There are some really great certified coaches out there who can 100% help you. And then there are some that just think it’s a good industry to make a lot of money. And there’s a difference between people who genuinely want to help and who are out to make a quick buck.

Stephanie Nelb  27:42  

Yeah, very well said. Alright. Should I take us out for today? Okay, well, thank you, everyone that listened to today’s episode. Please make sure that you give us a follow. We’re also on Instagram at @bestlife coachcollective. 

And we would love it if you would go ahead and give us a review on this podcast as well. It would go a long way to helping others see this podcast and help spread the word. 

Sarah Mae  28:17  



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Episode Notes

CBC Marketplace Investigation

Watch the Episode:–wT8

More on this story: 

International Coach Federation

ICF Code of Ethics:

ICF Whitepaper on Referring a Client to Therapy:

BLCC Resources:

Find a certified coach:

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