Professional Life Coaching Certificate program participants support communities through coaching

Professional Life Coaching Certificate program

Brent Eastabrooks used life coaching to help those with housing challenges and homelessness. Johnna Georgia introduced the life coaching model to serve more than a thousand clients participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Eastabrooks and Georgia both completed a life coaching certificate through the Professional Life Coaching Certificate program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. They exemplify the Wisconsin Idea of bringing classroom learning into the community as well as the International Coach Federation (ICF) Foundation mission of accelerating social progress through coaching, according to a recent article on the ICF Foundation website.

“Projects like these can be replicated in coach training programs worldwide, truly utilizing the power of coaching to make a positive impact in communities across the globe,” said Chariti Gent, director and lead instructor for the Professional Life Coaching Certificate program.

In the program, participants go through a nine-month series of face-to-face classes and teleconferences that lead to professional credentialing. The program is accredited by the International Coach Federation and is unique in offering a cohort model, so students gain a sense of community. Coaches also teach individual courses for those who want to learn more life coaching or keep certification skills current.

Overcoming challenges with life coaching

Eastabrooks, a human resources professional in the health care industry, worked with the Stoughton Area Resource Team (START) Program in Stoughton, Wis., to help leaders there use life coaching with 10 workshop participants.

“These individuals were very low income, homeless, or at risk of homelessness at the time,” said START executive director Cindy Thompson. “Since the workshop, they’ve received ongoing support from me through case management and follow-up while working toward goals set during the workshop.”

Participants gave coaching sessions glowing reviews.

“Past participants shared the positive outcome that it had on their lives,” Thompson said. “These results allowed my board of directors to approve incorporating coaching as a tool within our organization to provide our client population with an additional resource.”

Strengthening relationships

Georgia introduced coaching to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County by training her team to use a coaching model with clients. They’ve served more than 1,800 people—609 of them children—by applying the coaching approach with everyone involved in each “Little-Big-Parent” match.

“Our goal at BBBS is to ensure the relationship match between the Little [child], Big [mentor], and Parent of the Little is thriving.” Georgia said. “When we call and check in, we often hear of little red flags that have the potential to sour the relationship. Our job in the past was to give advice and triage the problem. We wanted to change our culture so that our response was based in coaching techniques, acknowledging that the person is a stakeholder in this relationship and more capable of determining an appropriate course of action than we are as outsiders.”

Georgia said the results of coaching are so impressive that they plan to continue providing training for staff on coaching techniques.

“Our overall goal is that more Big-Little-Parent matches are together longer because the relationships are stronger as a result of the coaching approach,” she said.

For more information, see the Professional Life Coaching Certificate program website or contact Chariti Gent, program director, at chariti.gent@wisc.edu.