When I Am Looking Into Parenting Support Is Certification Important?

I have got a question recently that I thought was really important to address.

As parents, when you’re struggling with your child’s behavior challenges, you have lots of options for seeking support.

You’ve got your doctor (though, I’ve talked before about why a doctor is not the best place to seek parenting support). You’ve got public programs.

You’ve got private therapists such as OT, SLP, PT, and psychologists, if your child has a diagnosis then you’ve often got access to early intervention.

We’ve spoken about why you’d choose a Parenting Coach over or in conjunction with those other supports and vise-versa in another post.

I recently got an email from a prospective client, she was looking for a parenting coach to support her and her husband through navigating her child’s behaviour as well as coordinating interventions – great, that’s what parenting coaches do!

She asked why, on the websites of some other parenting coaches you see certification seals, and on my site, I don’t have any. I don’t claim on my “about me” page to be certified by anyone.

She was wondering who I’m certified by.

I feel it necessary to talk about “certification”, what it means, and if you should be looking for a “certified” parenting coach. I if one person is wondering, well then there’s probably more who’ve wondered and it might have even stopped you from joining ParentAbility.

First, we need to discuss the coaching industry in general.

“Coaching” be that life, parent, relationship, business, wellness, money, fitness.

NONE of these are regulated professions.

This means there’s no disciplinary body that keeps track of your qualifications and grants you the right to practice. Anybody – any Tom, Dick, or Harry- can set up a website, call themself a coach, and start charging people money.

Now, that’s a risky thing to do, and I don’t recommend it. Coaching someone without liability insurance or legal contracts is a bad idea and could get you in a lot of trouble. Those are the same things that are preventing anyone from setting up any kind of business.

They aren’t specific to the coaching industry.

What does that mean when someone calls themselves a “certified” coach?

Well what that really means is that they paid a business, a private business, to teach them their methodology, prove to that business that they understand and can replicate that methodology. If they do that to their satisfaction, then they give you a certificate to say that they have confidence in your ability to use their methods without supervision.

Sometimes there will be levels of certification. An example would be like level 1 you need to be supervised, but level 2 you don’t. That’s entirely up to the business they’re certifying with.

This doesn’t mean that certifications are worthless.

A business usually has to have a pretty proven methodology to be able to sustain a legitimate certification program, and training is training. Any kind of education isn’t bad.

However, there’s no legal weight to that certification.

The business doesn’t have to have done any research on their methodology, they don’t have to prove it’s effective. It just means that the company’s gone “yup, we trained them.”

Often there will be other small perks such as group liability insurance, and in the states possibly even health insurance, possibly some professional development opportunities, and often they’ll also get some training on running a business too.

If you’re considering hiring a “certified” parenting coach you need to make sure you do your homework on the program they’re claiming that they’re certified by!

What did they have to do to get that certification?

Do they have any other education?

What are the admission requirements, what are the qualifications of the business running the program?

Do they have to do any professional development to maintain their certification or do they just have to pay a licensing fee?

If you’re looking at hiring someone who has a certification that requires a two-week course and only a licensing fee to maintain their “certification”, and they don’t have any other qualifications, this might not be the experience you’re expecting.

On the other hand, there are programs that take 2-3 years to complete, include supervised hours to gain experience, and yearly professional development to maintain their status. In this case, they may be just as qualified to support you as someone who has a 4-year degree.

Not all certification programs are created equal.

Second, why am I not certified by anyone?

I don’t believe that any company can teach you to be a good coach. You can get training on effective coaching skills, which I have done.

Coaching is an acquired skill.

It’s something you have to learn by doing and I was very fortunate to have ample opportunity to practice that skill in my previous career as an early interventionist.

I was in my clients’ homes, every day. I was supporting their parents, every day.

I was supporting the programs they were in, their daycares and preschools and kindergartens, every day.

My education, my actual qualifications which I’m using, doesn’t require certification by some random company.

I have two degrees. I’m a registered early childhood educator in two provinces, and in both those provinces early childhood education is a regulated profession.

I have to do yearly PD to maintain that status. I’ve also got professional development training by many respected organizations in the early intervention space such as Shanker Self-Reg, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, Pivotal Response, and Relationship Development Intervention, all of which are backed by research.

It’s those concepts, from my education, my professional experience, and from my professional development, that I teach my clients. I support you in applying my methodology.

I didn’t need some canned method, that may or may not have any research done on it or have any proven effectiveness, from a random company who would give me a shiny badge to put on my website.

I already had methods and I used those over the course of my early intervention career and then transferred them to my coaching practice.

I used those methods with real children.

I credit all those years of experience and supervision to the fact that I have yet to have an intervention team protest a client’s involvement in ParentAbility or any of the strategies I’ve suggested.

In fact, it’s more common for my clients, if they’re expanding their team or they’re working with school supports, to already be implementing many of the strategies the early interventionist or the school counselor are suggesting. Parents have learned them in ParentAbility.

This puts parents ahead of the curve.

It also seemed like a much better use of my time and financial investment to be in charge of my own professional development. I complete at least 40 hours a year of professional development.

This allows me to hone and expand upon my methods that I already know work. I stand behind my own program, that I created.

I looked into getting some kind of certification.

Given that coaching is not a regulated profession, I didn’t need someone to shove some pre-fab, unproven methods down my throat. I decided to give it a pass.

What should you take away from this?

Don’t get dazzled by a shiny badge on a website.

If you’re not confident in whomever you’re considering hiring’s qualifications, ask them for their qualifications!

Ask them for their experience.

Read the testimonials on their website.

Ask their other clients!

Now, they might have to get back to you on that. Generally if someone asks me for a reference, I have to go get their permission to give their contact information out.

They should have references.

You also don’t have to go through them, if they have a group, ask in the group! Ask around.

Parent Coaching is a very intimate experience.

We share a lot of information, so it’s important that you’re really confident in the person you’re hiring.

You should be REALLY comfortable with them too.

I hope that puts some minds to rest and helps you make a decision.

If you’ve been looking into parenting coaches, whether that’s me or someone else. It may have just opened up a whole other can of worms for some of you.

If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to put them in the comments or email me.

Message me on the Uncommon Sense Parenting page.

I’m an open book.

I’m happy to answer your questions. It’s so important to me that every family that I work with is successful.

Part of my success strategy for every family is making sure that we’re a good fit, that my program is going to meet their expectations, and that they’re going to feel confident in the strategies I give them before you even enter the program.

Never hesitate to get in touch and ask me questions.

Never hesitate to ask in the Posse for my client’s feedback, unfiltered and straight from them.

As I said, open book.

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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