Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Message Concerning ICF Credential Enhancements

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 by International Coach Federation

On January 21 to 23, the ICF Board of Directors met for its annual strategic meeting. I invite you to read this month’s Coaching World newsletter, which will feature an article that will give you a better understanding of our commitment to the membership and organizational wholeness, and the organization’s strategic focus, including 2010 priorities.

Among the various topics on the agenda, the Board addressed the proposed changes to the current ICF Credentialing program. The Board reviewed all the comments received from members and stakeholders in the period from October to December 2009, including the input of the Lunch & Learn forum held in Orlando during the ICF Annual International Conference. We acknowledge that all the input received helped us realize that there are areas of concern that have to be addressed including two fundamental questions: 1) what is the purpose for the credentialing system and 2) whose task shall it be to develop a proposal to enhance our current credentialing system?

To summarize, the Board discussed and decided the following:

Purpose of the Credentialing System
The fundamental questions regarding the purpose of the ICF Credentialing program have been discussed as they relate to future scenario planning and strategic visioning of the Board. The Board agreed upon the following three-fold purpose for the program: 1) to protect and serve consumers of coaching services, 2) to measure and certify competence of individuals and 3) to inspire pursuit of continuous development.

Life of the Existing Credentialing System
The decision of the Board is to keep the existing 3-tier credentialing system in place until January 2012. This does not mean that the 3-tier system will disappear in January 2012. It only means that anyone planning to apply for one of the existing credentials can rely on the stability of the existing 3-tier system through that time.

Charging the Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee with the Task of Developing a Proposal
The decision of the Board is to keep the existing 3-tier credentialing system in place until January 2012 and to charge the Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee to develop standards that will enhance our credentialing program to best protect and serve consumers of coaching services, measure and certify competence of individuals and inspire pursuit of continuous development.

International Standards
The resolution made in July 2007 to seek ISO compliance must be revisited. The Board discussed that there are merits to us using internationally accepted standards as applicable for our credentialing program. We decided to use such existing standards as a guideline and we will work to develop other standards where needed.

The Board decided to develop a governance body under the umbrella of the ICF which is administratively independent.

Plan of Action, Task Forces and Time Frame by March 18, 2010
The Board decided that the proposed changes shared for comment in August 2009 will not be implemented as proposed. Any alterations to the system currently in place will be subject to further Credentialing & Program Accreditation Committee research and development using member and stakeholder input received and Board direction. The Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee has been charged with developing a plan of action to be presented to the Board. This plan of action will be aligned to the three-fold purpose above. The Committee will reach out and create task forces to include key stakeholders such as credentialed coaches, assessors, ICF Coaches Take a Stand members, ACTO, GSEAC and others to carry out the plan and ensure co-creation. A 2010 work plan with major milestones and time frame will be developed by the Committee for Board review on March 18.

Topics and Questions for the Credentialing & Program Accreditation Committee to Address
As discussed, to give further direction to the 2010 Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee, the Board prioritized a list of topics and questions from the comments and input received by members and others during the open comment period. The prioritized topics and corresponding questions are:

     Topic: Number of Credentials
  • Should ICF retain a 3-tier credentialing system? 
  • In the event that ICF adopts a multi-tier credentialing system, what methods should be used to differentiate between different levels?

     Topic: Qualifications of Credential Applicants

  • Should hours of training be considered as one of the eligibility criteria and if so how many hours should be required?
  • Should hours of experience be considered as one of the eligibility criteria and if so how many hours should be required?
  • Will ICF accept training from non-approved training providers?

     Topic: Assessment Program
  • Should a written exam and oral exam be required for all levels of credentials?
  • Should oral exams be conducted by the ICF directly or by approved test providers/training programs
  • Should assessors receive compensation?

Again, these are just examples of the many questions that need to be addressed by the Committee.

Recommendation from Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee
The Board decided that the recommendation resulting from the work of the Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee will be submitted to the ICF membership and others for comment, and then based upon results, submitted to the Board for approval and implementation.

We hope that these actions by the Board inspire you to continue your professional development in pursuing an ICF Credential and maintaining your credentialed status once achieved.

As announced, I invite all of you who are interested to know more about the decisions the Board made and their implications, to join me with members of the Board on several calls that will follow our January Board Meeting:

For ICF Credentialed Coaches:

• January 26: 21:00 (UTC), 4 p.m. (New York), 10 p.m. (Paris); Wednesday, January 27: 5 a.m. (Hong Kong) – Listen to Recording.
• February 9: 14:00 (UTC), 9 a.m. (New York), 3 p.m. (Paris), 10 p.m. (Hong Kong)

For Non-credentialed Coaches:
• January 27: 14:00 (UTC), 9 a.m. (New York), 3 p.m. (Paris), 10 p.m. (Hong Kong) – Listen to Recording.
• February 10: 21:00 (UTC), 4 p.m. (New York), 10 p.m. (Paris); Thursday, February 11: 5 a.m. (Hong Kong)

The bridge line for all above calls will be 866.214.0180, pin 1099. Additional dialing instructions, if needed, are available here (view PDF). All calls will be recorded and shared through this blog, to make sure that those who miss the calls can stay updated.

I’m proud of the work the Board has done and the depth, vision, authenticity and openness we experienced in the Board Meeting. It was exhilarating and expansive. We all felt that ICF’s 15th anniversary promises to mark a new beginning.



Giovanna D'Alessio, MCC
2010 ICF President


  1. Great to see this update and that it is all being so transparently done. I feel very listened to as a member and it feels like we will be able to go forwards and discuss from a place of ease.

  2. It seems that coaches have a voice...and has been heard!

  3. Thank you for this morning's call on ICF credentialing. Appreciate hearing the perspectives of current leadership and the credentialing committee. Helpful to know that the membership has a voice. Of the many related topics, one I am very interested in is the conversation around membership, credentialing and ICF as a professional organization.

  4. The coaching profession has come a long way since it began almost two decades ago but it still has a ways to go! I’ve trained and invested in my development as a professional coach yet anyone can still call themselves a coach and anyone can label what they do as coaching. On a call with several other professional in my Mastermind Group last night, one expert talked about adding coaching as a service for her clients. With this being a senstive area for me, I responded quite negatively and asked her to use a different label to share her expertise and guidance. I explained in with example by putting it another way, "I may help my children or husband get back to good health, however, I don’t say that I’m nursing their health/recovery nor that I am a nurse or a doctor. I may crunch my numbers or do my bookkeeping, but I don’t say that I’m an accountant or bookkeeper. Coaching in some ways is similar to therapy or counseling, yet because these are licensed fields and really a different modality for supporting people, a coach cannot offer either of these services." Many professionally trained and certified coaches share this frustration but throughout the 15-20 years since this has been somewhat formalized as a profession, although there are certifications in place, nothing else exists yet to prevent the misuse of the terms related to the profession. So, I am looking forward to some regulation although I do not want to lose what I've already worked so hard to earn and maintain.

  5. After reading ICF's Global Client Study, it is apparent that there are still misconceptions as to what coaching actually is. This is due, in part, by what Priority Pro says above: "anyone can still call themselves a coach and anyone can label what they do as coaching."

    I will be applying for my PCC credential the 1st of August. Meanwhile, I have volunteered to be a part of the task force working on these issues about credentialing and accreditation. Coaching makes such a difference in our client's lives, I feel we have an obligation to educate and, to regulate. Hopefully this can be done in such a way as to build upon and not take away from proven coaches.

  6. I am looking forward to more regulation on the term "coaching" and the requirements that coaches be credentialed through the ICF to qualify to use the term.

    Coaching is beginning to be seen as a fad and is sometimes not taken seriously by media/journalists.

    I too, have spent tremendous time, effort and money to ensure that I am qualified to assist clients with their life, health and business goals and I plan to apply for the MCC credential this December.

    In addition to regulating the use of the term "coach" I also believe there ought to be some sort of "internship" period where upcoming coaches get supervised experience before they can be credentialed. This supervised experience ought to occur post graduation from an accredited school.

    Finally, there are far too many coach "colleges, institutes or universities" that are not accredited and offer "coach certification" via 6 month or 6 week or even 2 week curriculums. For our profession to be taken seriously, this needs to be stopped. Coach Training should require at least a one year program. Further, I believe that the credentialing process should include an academic requirement of at least a Bachelor's degree in a human services related field such as psychology.

    My two cents. :)


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