We live in a sea of coaches. Coaches everywhere. Mindset coaches. Biz coaches. Sales coaches. Relationship coaches. Many of these coaches have enough legitimate professional education and experience to call themselves a specialized coach. Others do not.

But how do potential clients know this and tell the difference? In the online sea where things are largely unregulated (for better or for worse), two things make potential clients vulnerable: (1) Anyone can pull together a glossy website with a PayPal button and call themselves a mindset coach, and (2) Anyone can work with unsuspecting clients in a coaching relationship and call it mindset work. Anyone else feel especially scared by #2?! That you could actually be paying someone big bucks to do deep powerful work with you, when they’ve only read a few mindset books and have no professional training? And/or they don’t understand how to protect the sacred professional relationship and they let all their own stuff bleed through? Ouch. As a licensed and practicing psychotherapist…this terrifies me.

So let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to you! Read on, so you know what to look for and why this matters (and it definitely matters — think: actually getting RESULTS, saving yourself mega time, big money, and icky confusion and drama).

What to look for:

Credentials/Professional Training

Look for professional credentials or training specific to coaching or psychotherapy, ESPECIALLY if you’re looking for a mindset coach. Let’s get real…mindset work is transformative for your life and biz, but it’s also the real deal. It can be sensitive and vulnerable and raw to peel back your layers and tap into that more powerful, confident, and successful version of yourself. So you want to be sure you’re trusting a coach who’s qualified, trained, experienced…and who just plain knows how to navigate this kind of important work.

Let me just get really honest here for a second, since we’re on the subject of professional training and because this is important for you to know. There’s a big difference in having a coach who’s gone through and healed from something (e.g., depression, anxiety, divorce, low self-esteem, trauma, etc.) and a coach who’s professionally trained and experienced to do this work with you. While healing from a big life event gives you some perspective and a level of compassion, it doesn’t mean you also know how to be objective and maintain professional boundaries in a coaching relationship.

For example, if your coach experienced your particular pain point and healed in this one way (and did not have the proper training), it’s highly likely that she’s going to project her own experiences and healing process on to you. That might look like her telling you to confront your mother or to demand a raise at work, rather than objectively holding space for you to figure out what healing process works best for your life and feels best for you.


Look for a coach who has previous experience in a coaching or helping profession. Again, you want to be sure you’re trusting a seasoned professional when you’re diving deep on things like self-sabotage, confidence, limiting beliefs, and big-time fears. You’re looking for guidance and support, but ALSO for someone to see through your stuff and challenge you to grow. You also want someone who’s done their own inner work, and is not there to project all their stuff onto you (we’re talking about this because this stuff happens, people!). Because again — while having life experiences gives us perspective and wisdom, it doesn’t make us a mindset coach.

Quite honestly, the level of skill and self-awareness I bring to my client relationships developed with experience and training — and not necessarily just my OWN life experience, but the experiences I support my clients through. Could I effectively guide and support clients when I had no training? In some ways, probably. Could I effectively guide and support clients when I was fresh out of grad. school? Yes — getting warmer. Am I 100 times more effective at challenging and supporting my clients’ growth after receiving professional training and working with hundreds and hundreds of different clients over the years? Absolutely. Hands down. Bottom line. Do it everyday.


This is something even therapy clients don’t get, so take advantage here! Current and former clients of your prospective coach are easy to find and usually willing to talk. Look for coaches that make this readily available on their website — with pictures, quotes, and possibly links to find their clients (for those clients who are also business owners). It’s also a good sign if your prospective coach is willing to give you the names of former clients you can chat with about their experience.

Why all this matters:

Mindset coaching creates an intimate relationship

Honestly, a solid relationship is one of the most important agents for change, in any helping relationship. A trained and experienced coach should understand and value this. And like I said earlier, mindset work sometimes involves deep personal exploration and the sharing of vulnerable information, which makes the relationship between coach and client even more important. You absolutely want to partner with a coach who has the training, experience, and ethics to create a safe and healthy relationship with you. The better the relationship, the better your chances of getting big results from the work.

Good boundaries keep the relationship safe (and solid)

To the point made above, this solid relationship is still a professional one, and your coach needs to recognize that. And while every coach will have slightly different boundaries and comfort levels around availability, personal sharing, and closeness with clients — an experienced and highly-training coach has clear, healthy boundaries and knows how to model them consistently. Why does this matter?! It matters because then the relationship is always about you and not them. About your stuff and not their stuff. For the benefit of you and not them. That’s what keeps the relationship safe and the work powerful. And you want the work to feel good, safe, and powerful, yes?

Effective skills matter

Good mindset coaching goes infinitely beyond just listening and supporting. You should expect your mindset coach to do those things, but to also recognize what you’re not seeing, to hold up a loving mirror when you’re standing in your own way, and to challenge you when you’re self-sabotaging. Doing this requires skill — plain and simple. These are skills that take practice to learn, experience to develop, and talent to use effectively. You should also expect your mindset coach to skillfully teach you skills, so you can eventually go out and coach yourself — meaning, so you can go out and use what you learned to keep expanding, long after the coaching relationship ends. Gotta have the skills to teach them!

This is a business — ethics are important and protect everyone

Let’s be honest — complicated things happen in professional coaching relationships: people’s feelings get hurt (putting it mildly), clients don’t feel like they’re seeing results fast enough, people’s expectations are different about how available their coach should be. But to be really honest here — those things are just plain less likely to happen when your coach has professional training. A coach’s personal and professional ethics keep things (and the investment) safe on both ends of the relationship. Trained and experienced coaches expect these complications to arise and are prepared to handle them appropriately. Which is really what you should expect from your coach — to consistently show up as a leader and expert you can trust.

You hear all the time that coaching’s an investment, so let’s treat it like one. If you’re looking to buy a new car, you’re not going to plunk down cash for the first one that looks shiny and in your favorite color. Most likely you’re going to research it online, read reviews, and take it for a test drive. You’d do the same thing for a big expensive appliance, new house, or any other big-ticket investment you’re looking to make.

You MUST treat investing in a coach in the same way. Read through the About and Testimonial Pages of their website (this is where a coach with professional credentials and experience will list that), reach out to or ask to speak with a previous client, and conduct the Discovery Call like an interview — ask them about their credentials, experience, and how they feel they can support you specifically.

Let me be clear — this is all not to say that mindset coaches without specialized training cannot be good mindset coaches. And honestly, this is also not to say that mindset coaches with specialized training and experience are always great mindset coaches. The key here is to call attention to the difference, so potential clients can be discerning consumers and can make sound investments in themselves and their businesses. And so we as coaches and clients of coaches can push this industry to set and maintain high standards of integrity and excellence. This is a win-win for all of us.

Ready to make a smart investment in yourself and your business through the power of good mindset coaching? Ready to partner with a mindset coach who has the credentials and experience to support you in powerful and lasting change? As a licensed psychotherapist and mindset coach, I’ve supported hundreds of clients over the years to create their dream life and business through doing the foundational and non-negotiable inner work. My clients tell me that when we work together, they get a supportive partner in their life and business who’s not afraid to call them out and who knows how to guide and empower them to step more fully into their greatness. THIS is the beautiful work of good, quality mindset coaching.

If you’d like to learn more about how I support my clients with mindset coaching or to get access to any of my free resources, visit my website at lisaeatoncoaching.com. Or, if you’d like to get a feel for how I support my clients, sign up for my free 5-day Finally Face Your Fears Challenge, where you’ll learn how to crush the fears holding you back, so you can show up confidently and grow your business.

Sign up for my Fear Challenge here:


Originally published at medium.com


  • Lisa Eaton Ling

    As a Mindset Strategist and Sales Coach, Lisa works with high-performing women entrepreneurs to help them conquer their fears and make more sales.