The vast majority of life transition and relationship coaches have at best, at a master’s level degree e.g., licensed professional counselors, marriage and family counselors and social workers. Very few life or relationship coaches have a PhD in Psychology.

 What is the advantage for people working with a PhD psychologist? 

The additional 4 – 8 years of training and experience required of Psychologists provides a deeper and broader understanding of what motivates people to behave, learn, and change. Coaches may have attended accredited programs, while Ph.D. Psychologists must attend accredited programs that require extensive research, (often 1-2 years) of supervised clinical practice is needed post-degree to be eligible to apply for licensure.  For licensure in most states, some level (often 1-2 years) of supervised clinical practice is needed post-degree to be eligible to apply for licensure. In real clinical practice, psychologists can use their deeper knowledge of thought patterns and brain biology to alter methodologies on the fly. Many patients find that a psychologist is more capable of therapeutic individualization than a master’s-level therapist.

(1) “Psychologists have the most training of any profession in understanding human motivation, behavior, learning and change,” … “And if they’ve done clinical work, they have a depth of one-on-one experience far greater than that of people who aren’t mental health professionals. Coaching is a great fit with what most of us already do.” Published in “Monitor on Psychology” (2010.11)

Coaching is currently a largely unregulated profession. Although several organizations offer training and provide a certificate, there is no licensing requirement. As a result, anyone can call themselves a coach and go into business.

  • “The field is as unregulated as it is mushrooming: Its main trade group, the International Coach Federation (ICF), boasts of only 17,000 members and counting. The lack of regulation means that anyone — including those without any training in behavioral science — can become a life coach. What’s more, the coaching field lacks a solid research base, and there’s little agreement among coaches on what constitutes its core education and training requirements”, according to psychologist Vicki Vandaveer, PhD, an executive coach based in Houston.

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