Life Coach vs. Career Coach Part 2

After perusing multiple coaching website I was amazed to find so many life coaches adding career coaching to their list of services, without always the benefit of credentials. That lead me to wonder, “Does anyone really know the difference between these two titles; Life Coach vs. Career Coach? and What type of professional standards are set for career coaches?

In part one of Life Coach vs. Career Coach I provided some answers to those questions but I was curious to hear the perspective of Sareena Hopkins, Co-Executive Director at the Canadian Career Development Foundation. Sareena helps to shed some light on the career development profession, its standards, coaching and what the consumer needs to consider before hiring a career coach. What she has to say applies to anyone, anywhere, who is seeking the advice of a career coach.

The truth is the career development field is working very hard to build a consistent standard of professionalism Canada-wide, but we are not there yet. We now have voluntary certification in BC and AB. It is currently under development in NS, ON and NB. All have their grounding in the Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners. The Canadian Council of Career Development Associations has been formed and one of its priorities is to promote collaboration and cohesion across provincial certification initiatives. We now have professional associations for career development practitioner in almost every province and territory, but still have provinces not only without certification but also without an association.

I would be the first in line to promote our field – I believe that our Standards and Guidelines are exemplary – they are indeed the first of their kind in the world and have been used as a model by many other countries (and the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance in the development of their international competency framework). We also now have many superb training programs to support excellence in our field – both within post-secondary institutions and outside of them. But there are still areas of Canada where anyone can call themselves a career development practitioner and, even if they wanted to join a provincial professional association or seek provincial certification, the option doesn’t yet exist.

With the emergence of many life coaches also offering career advisement services is there anything the consumer should know? I think it’s very important to be clear about what you’re seeking as an outcome of the assistance. Career development is the lifelong process of managing your learning and work and the transitions between them in order to move toward the life you want to live. Certified CDPs have a defined scope of practice, specific competencies and adhere to a code of ethics. From my perspective, career development is in many ways an educational and development process as opposed to the more remedial, therapeutic approach of counselling. The Career Counselling Specialization of the Canadian Standards and Guidelines provides a good delineation between CDPs and career counsellors.

CCDP credentials necessary for assisting? Why? Credentialing in general not only promotes clarity and competence from within a field, but also provides clarity and protection for those potentially accessing the services offered by the field. I think a smart consumer needs to understand the credentials (or lack of credentials) of a given service-provider – but should not stop there. Personally, I would want to understand the service-provider’s approach to practice and any theoretical leanings and/or assumptions underpinning their approach, their commitment to ongoing professional development and collaboration with others in the field.

What are core competencies that differentiate the CCDP from the Life coach? The Canadian Standards and Guidelines clearly define core competencies for practice. Both British Columbia and Alberta go beyond this to require additional competencies, specific courses and adherence to the code of ethics. I cannot speak to the core competencies required for Life Coaches.

What key questions should an individual ask of their potential coach or counsellor? As a start… I think it’s reasonable to want to know about their training, professional affiliations (associations to which they belong), designations/certifications, regimen of ongoing professional development, personal approach to service delivery (theoretical underpinnings/assumptions). I would want to negotiate at the front end what outcomes you can reasonably agree upon within your defined time frame, what expectations they will have of you and what expectations it is reasonable for you to have for them.


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