What does it mean to be ICF-accredited? Why do all our coaches carry this qualification? And does it actually make a difference? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the ‘Gold Standard in Coaching’ and why it is important to our Coaching programme:
What is an ICF accreditation?
An ICF certification is awarded by the International Coaching Federation, the world’s largest independent body of professionally-trained coaches. While other organisations also offer accreditation for coaches, the ICF ‘stamp’ is the most globally recognised credentials, associated with leading and informing the future of coaching. To be ICF-certified is often referred to as obtaining the ‘Gold Standard in Coaching.’
There are various levels of ICF accreditation, all of which involve a rigorous review process, hours of training, and a handful of paid coachee experience and evaluations. For example, Coach Cat had to complete a minimum of 60 hours of coach training, 100 hours of coach experience, 10 hours of mentor coaching, a performance evaluation, and a knowledge assessment to receive her ACC title by the ICF.
How exactly are coaches assessed to be certified?
The ICF and other accrediting bodies aim to set a high standard for coaching professionals are founded on a code of ethics, primary competencies, and continuous education within the subject. Frameworks that must be practised and mastered before certification include:
Meeting Ethical Guidelines: The coach understands and exhibits ethics, distinguishes coaching from his/her other professions, and commits to ongoing personal and professional development.
Establishing the Coaching Agreement: The coach can understand and communicate what is required in specific coaching interactions, his/her parameters as a coach (including confidentiality), and the outcomes of coaching that is agreed upon by the coachee.
The Coaching Relationship: There is trust and intimacy between the coachee and coach, built upon mutual respect, trust, and a safe environment. This includes sensitively broaching difficult areas, being inclusive of differences, and demonstrating honesty and integrity as a coach.
Coaching Presence: The coach is fully conscious and present during sessions, employing a style with the coachee that is open, intuitive, and confident. They are flexible to the agenda, but not overpowered by the coachee’s emotions.
Effective Communication: The coach utilises active listening, open questions and feedback skills to help the coachee gain insights and progress towards the agreed outcomes. This means making educated interpretations, integrating and evaluating multiple sources of information, as well as using language that has the greatest positive impact.
Designing Actions and Ongoing Learning: The coach is committed to support and stretch the coachee in the design and achievement of their outcomes. He/she encourages the coachee to hold attention to what is important to them and take responsibility for future learning.
Why is it important to work with a certified coach?
As outlined above, becoming a certified coach can be a long and arduous process. It requires a mastery of coaching skills and countless hours perfecting your craft. Most of all, it calls for a commitment to excellence and a dedication to the coach-coachee relationship.
Long-standing certifying bodies like the ICF are trusted sources in an otherwise unregulated industry - giving clients the peace of mind that their coach is who they say they are, can meet the expectations set for them professionally, and works ethically. Because coaching is action-orientated, it needs models and frameworks beyond core communication in order to bring insight and learning. This is not to say that uncertified coaches are 'bad' or 'unethical,' but that it is more difficult to determine their methodology and standards of work. In turn, gathering information on the effectiveness of their practice can be ambiguous and challenging to scale, especially in a business setting. Furthermore, as professional coaching continues to grow in popularity, certification will inevitably become a legal necessity.