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Who is the ICF (and Why Does it Matter)?

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

Coaching is coaching is coaching. Right?

Probably our first experiences that involved a coach had to do with PE classes and having someone blow a whistle and yell at us what to do. Not to mention it was always a plus to survive the encounter with our dignity intact.

But that's what coaching essentially is right? Someone who doesn't have a job so they start telling someone what to do, how to do it, and making a ton of money while doing so, and tah-dah you're a life coach.

If you're an ICF member or have an ICF Credential, you might have regarded the above statement with a mixture of horror and disgust. It's easy to take for granted what we know about coaching after having been a member for a long enough time.

Sadly though, that was the stereotypical view of what a Life Coach is. The legitimacy of the profession has progressed leaps and bounds thanks to the efforts of the ICF and the work they put in and this is the topic of this week's CLCI Live. We join with Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), Daniel Olexa (P.C.C), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.L.C) and get to the heart of:

  • Who the ICF is

  • Why they are important

  • Why they remain the leading edge

The ICF as of Today

*As given and defined by The International Coaching Federation (ICF)

It is the leading global organization for coaches and coaching. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.

ICF continues to offer the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program for coach practitioners. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements and have demonstrated a thorough understanding of the coaching competencies that set the standard in the profession. Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding, and mastery of coaching skills, and dedication to clients.

ICF also accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.

But more than that, they're leading the way to set high standards across the board for the coaching industry and all of its facets. ICF is consistently recognized among coaching professionals worldwide for:

  • Developing coaching core competencies

  • Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards

  • Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program

  • Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach -specific training programs

  • Providing continuous education through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs) and archived learning

  • Leading and informing conversations about the future of coaching.

What is Coaching?

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.

Vision Statement

Coaching is an integral part of a thriving society and every ICF Member represents the highest quality of professional coaching.

Mission Statement

ICF exists to lead the global advancement of the coaching profession and empower the world through coaching.

Core Values

We are committed to reliability, openness, acceptance and congruence and consider all parts of the ICF community mutually accountable to uphold the following values:

  1. Integrity: We uphold the highest standards both for the coaching profession and our organization.

  2. Excellence: We set and demonstrate standards of excellence for professional coaching quality, qualification and competence.

  3. Collaboration: We value the social connection and community building that occurs through collaborative partnership and co-created achievement.

  4. Respect: We are inclusive and value the diversity and richness of our global stakeholders. We put people first, without compromising standards, policies and quality.

The Wild West of Coaching

By some estimates, we are living at the end of the Wild West of Coaching. Debate ranges on either side whether or not the profession should be regulated by (at least in the US) state governments.

As of right now, Life Coaching is not regulated by any state or federal agency. Anyone can walk out their house and shout from the rooftops for all to hear that they are a Life Coach.

For obvious reasons, this fact didn't help serve the public image of coaches, and matters became worse when these so-called Life Coaches made confused attempts at therapy, consultation, and advice giving.

Things did turn around though. In 1995.

Thomas Leonard, with support of others, found[ed] the International Coach Federation (ICF) in the United States for the purpose of having a space for all coaches to support one another and help grow the profession.

From 1995 onwards, the profession of Life Coach would become standardized and the demand for educated and certified Life Coaches would become the norm.

IF coaching in the future ever was to become regulated, our bets would be that the ICF would be the leading organization that state and federal governments would recognize.

The Value of the ICF

Back in ye' olden days of Life Coaching, it was incredibly difficult to verify what (if any) education or training a Life Coach had. People didn't have the option of digital badging and could easily falsify or skew training.

Consumers today now have a vast array of tools at their disposal for vetting, comparing, and making educated decisions on how to spend their money and most importantly, their time. The key question that every prospective client wants to know "Is this coach ICF accredited?"

From a business perspective, you would be severely handicapping yourself if you chose to ignore being recognized by the ICF. It may benefit you momentarily in the short term, but long term growth as a coach is dependent on recognition from both your peers and your clients that you abide by a standard.

As stated before, anyone can claim to be a life coach. But not everyone can claim to

  • Be an ICF-accredited training program

  • Hold a certification from an ICF-accredited program

  • Have an ICF Credential

Unfortunately (and to highlight the value of being recognized by the ICF) I had recently encountered a situation where a good amount of people were claiming to be accredited by the ICF. How did I determine they were not or did not attend an accredited program?

I used these 2 amazing tools! Provided by the ICF

These two tools are invaluable if you are deciding which training program you should attend of if a coach/mentor coach is legitimate.

Where does Certified Life Coach Institute fit into all of this?

When you search our name in ICF's Training Program Search Service, this is the result that will pop up.

Notably, we are an ACSTH program that is a total of 65.8 training hours split between our Level 1 and Level 2 3-day courses.

These ACSTH hours will count towards earning your credential with the ICF if you wish to become an:

Between our two courses you will have a complete understanding of the ICF core competencies, their code of ethics, along with key standard definitions every ICF member should be familiar with.

This is the standard that every training program should meet but CLCI doesn't just meet the standard but goes above and beyond by giving you hands-on experience that counts towards your hours of coaching experience.

Like the ICF, CLCI will continue to evolve over the years and we will do our best to advance the education of coaches and the profession we are proud to be a part of. We make sure to align our values with the values of the ICF and will continue to do our due diligence in training the next generation of coaches.

Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., Daniel Olexa, and Anthony Lopez

Join us every Tuesday at 5 pm PST/7 PM EST for our CLCI Live Facebook Demos.

We now stream from our site! Watch by clicking here

We also now stream live on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel and don't miss out!

Don't miss out on our 3-day life coach classes, it's an education that is beneficial for life, not just for life coaches! Want to learn more click here.

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