When it comes to selecting a life coach, it truly is buyer beware. Anyone can lay claim to the label, experts say. Interested clients should shop carefully. The International Coach Federation ( is trying to bring order to chaos. The non-profit association, with more than 5,000 members, has created a formal accreditation program for the many schools that train coaches. SEE THE INDUSTRY (INTERNATIONAL COACH FEDERATION) STANDARDS.

The group plans to set up a credentialing process for graduates of formal coaching courses and provide a referral service for consumers.

Its Web site says it lists "business coaches, financial coaches, relationships coaches, spiritual coaches, life planning coaches, a rock 'n' roll band coach and hundreds of others."

And it suggests, "Since coaches often specialize in various areas, it's a good idea for the prospective client to shop around for the coach with the most experience and combination of qualities they seek."

The Web site says prospective clients should:

  • Educate themselves about coaching.
  • Define specific goals to be met through coaching.
  • Interview three coaches before making a decision.
  • Ask about experience, qualifications, skills.
  • Ask for at least two references.
  • Choose a coach who "feels right." There should be a genuine connection between client and coach.

Other experts caution that although no contract is signed, coaches expect clients to make what they see as a reasonable time commitment, which might run from three to six months, or more.

 Melissa Thornton is a licensed psychotherapist 
AND a life coach. She is a member of the International Coach Federation and President of the ICF Connecticut Chapter.



Melissa L. Thornton, MBA, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Personal and Professional Coach

5 Poplar Street, Trumbull, CT 06611 
24 hr. confidential voicemail and FAX: 203-268-5437
802 Back River Road, Boothbay, ME 04537
24 hr. confidential voicemail and FAX: 207-633-6566

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