Coaching isn’t regulated, not up to 2011 anyway. That means calling yourself a Coach, Accredited Coach, Psychological Coach, Member of X Coaching Institute, Graduate of Y Coaching University etc. means nothing. Anybody can be a coach, or claim to be “trained” or “qualified” with no training whatsoever.
Apart from meaning there is no minimum technical standard, this also means that there are no legal or ethical standards, nobody that you can complain to and no legal sanctions if they do it wrongly.
This doesn’t mean that everybody who coaches is bad, loads of them are good. The trouble is, the ones who are actually well qualified, have a code of ethics, do Continuous Professional Development (CPD), can be struck off a professional register etc. (like me) have no title they can use to prove it and to distinguish themselves from the awful ones.
There are various organisations which offer some regulation such as the Association for Coaching, and the European Mentoring & Coaching Council but none are compulsory or accepted nationally. So if somebody is struck off, they can potentially join another organisation, even assuming the first organisation can actually ban them. And that ignores the people who claim to have “Accreditation in coaching” from the sort of “University” that advertises in the free papers for you to become a “life coach for £99”! Organisations like the AC and EMCC do their best, but until there is regulation, you can’t actually tell the difference between an expert coach and a dangerous charlatan without quite a bit of specialist knowledge.
For that reason, I’d suggest that if you want to get a coach to help you with values, the way you think about money, setting goals etc. then you go to a psychologist who coaches. They aren’t going to be “regulated” in coaching as such, but you do know that they have a Doctoral level qualification, have to do ongoing CPD, have appropriate insurances, comply with an ethical code etc. They are also liable to lose their licence to practice psychology if they don’t display the appropriate competence, so if they haven’t really studied coaching both in theory and practice, they are stepping outside their remit and you can complain about them, and get their licence taken away. They might be able to carry on “coaching” (until it is regulated) but they will not be able to work as a registered psychologist any more. That might sound a bit harsh, but it is important for your safety and well-being, and until there is proper regulation of coaching in this country, it is the best protection you have.
The professional organisation for psychologists in the UK is the British Psychological Society (BPS). It’s a slightly convoluted process, but you can search by area in the psychologist directory . You can look me up on there to check it’s working (postcode is RG42 3DX). If you look under the “personal” section, it gives those who offer life/personal coaching, but the list is very limited. I’m going to set up a register of psychologists who coach and who have an interest in financial coaching on the site – pending the authorities and the BPS actually getting their act together and setting up a formal one.
What I said about it being convoluted is that while the BPS is the professional organisation, the register of psychologists (the formal list and disciplinery actions like striking off) is now handled by the Health Professions Council. You can check whether somebody you are considering seeing is on the HPC register. Choose “Practitioner Psychologist” on the drop down menu under “step1: Select a profession” and put in the name. It tells you whether the person is currently registered with the HPC. Again, you can look me up on there to make sure you’ve got the system to work when you are trying to check on a psychologist with whom you might want to work.
Obviously, when I get my own register set up it will be of people who are particularly interested/skilled in relation to financial coaching. Most psychologists, and coaches generally, have particular areas of expertise and specialisation. Some will do mainly executive coaching, some do sports (obviously, the Sports and Exercise Psychologists are expert in that area!) and some work very much on the border of counselling, around issues like stress and anxiety. There are a lot of different approaches, so the thing to do is make sure you are dealing with somebody who is experienced in the area with which you want help. Talk to them, pick their brains a bit and make sure you are comfortable both with their level of knowledge and their style – you need good “chemistry” for an advisor or coach to be as useful as they can be. No good coach or psychologist is going to mind you checking out the “fit” that you have, or resent you trying somebody else if the chemistry doesn’t work for you.
I’m happy to talk to you about it if you want to see if I can help, just let me know.