One of the most common questions aspiring life coaches ask around the interwebs is, "Do I have to do coach training to hang my shingle out as a life coach?"
Just asking the question shows that you give a sh!t, so good on you for asking.
The answer is yes. And no. (You can officially change our relationship status to, "It's complicated").
First of all, there IS an international federation that oversees the emerging field of life coaching. Just as psychology, behavior analysis, and every other branch of the helping professions was once the wild, wild west, such is life coaching right now.
In other words, you can do whatever you want right now, technically, but expect that to change in the next 10 years. As you can't call yourself a "counselor" now, unless you have the right training and qualifications, you will not be able to call yourself a "coach" without certification someday.
But what if you have this life experience that you KNOW can help other people? What if you've downloaded so many messages and breakthroughs that you are sure you can point people towards the same transformation? Can you claim the title of life coach, and start charging for your services?
Technically, the answer is YES.
My humble opinion is no. There are specific criteria, set forth by the International Coach Federation, that define a life coach and there are core competencies that should be adhered to. These exist to protect consumers who hire a "life coach". Without training, you're not necessarily working by the same standards as certified coaches. This causes confusion and also can tarnish the field in general.
I have good news, though. There is this thing called MENTORING. There are also things called SPEAKERS, AUTHORS, and TEACHERS. If you have life experiences and professional experiences that you're sure can transform lives, pick a profession! Be a Mentor/Coach. Be a Mentor/Teacher. Be a Speaker/Mentor. Mentoring is an awesome profession, and furthermore, it will make you stand out from the crowd!
Mentors and teachers have permission to share personal life experiences, teach content, give advice, make suggestions, and show a specific path to their clients.
Coaches believe that all the answers lie within the client, and never, ever advise, share personal experiences, or make suggestions without permission from the client.
Should you hang your shingle out as a "life coach" without training and certification? In my opinion, no.
Can you radically help change and transform lives without coach training! You betcha!
By choosing the right name for your chosen professional work, you help keep the lines clear, so that the public knows what to expect when they hire a life coach versus a mentor versus a teacher.
Whether you call yourself a coach, guide, gremlin hunter, or big brother/big sister... thank you for your commitment to changing lives for the better!
(In case you're wondering where I am getting my opinion from, I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. About 15 years ago, when I started in that field, anyone could hang their shingle out as a "behaviorist" or a "behavior analyst". The end result was a massive public distrust of behavior analysis and "behaviorists," because some professionals had no training or background at all. Over the last 10 years, radical changes have been made in the field, and you can only call yourself a Behavior Analyst after undergoing rigorous training and academic work.
The net effect has been tremendous. The public has greater trust in behaviorism as a field that can help. Consumers have guidelines and know what to expect when hiring a Behavior Analyst. And health insurance has begun to cover behavior analysis for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, because the field is regulated and empirically validated.)