Bodies work on credentials

Coach accreditation continues to be in the news in the UK with the Association for Coaching (AC) launching its revamped accreditation scheme later this month and the International Coach Federation (ICF)announcing it will keep its existing three-tier credentialing scheme in place at least until January 2012.

Meanwhile, at the end of last year, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC) launched its four-tier individual accreditation scheme. While many have welcomed the moves by the EMCC, AC and ICF; others find the choice of schemes confusing.

ICF Global’s 2010 president Giovanna D’Alessio, said the board decision does not mean the existing system will disappear, but “that anyone planning to apply for one of the existing credentials can rely on the stability of the existing three-tier system through that time”.

The AC said it was prompted to change its offering after gathering feedback from a number of quarters, including coaches, buyers of coaching and academic practitioners.

A gap in the market

Declan Woods, who is leading the AC’s work on this, said: “There was a gap in the current market not being met by existing accreditation schemes which focus on coaching competencies but not the broader context in which coaching is taking place.

“Organisations are also looking for more help in differentiating between the different levels of coaching. A good life coach, for example, might not be deemed credible in organisations,” said Woods, director of Penna’s board and executive service.

“If I say all my coaching is with executives I should be able to show evidence such as case studies around specific challenges such as multiple sets of stakeholders. “When corporates select coaches, for example, they were adding in elements that weren’t picked up by professional bodies.”

The AC is looking at “innovative ways to assess”, including live demonstrations. Woods said another reason for the change to the scheme is that coaching is moving from an industry to a profession. “People are making an active choice to become accredited coaches… We’re trying to offer a career path to coaches, introducing different levels so people can progress and develop recognition of where they are.”

The AC is keen to continue to be inclusive of its current members, while promoting and raising quality. “Raising the bar is one of my drivers. We want to make accreditation as rigorous and robust as possible, to fit with our ethos of excellence,” he said.

The AC will now be offering a twin approach: executive accreditation for organisations and a generic one. Woods said some approaches are too academic. “A big element will be about fitness to practise. Other approaches have been about snapshots in time, a stop-start approach, which is not encouraging to coaches. So it’s not just about assessment but development, holding people’s hands and giving them the support they need to put together a portfolio of accreditation.”

The AC will launch the scheme at its Going Global conference (11-12 March). Meanwhile, at a strategy meeting on 21-23 January, the ICF’s board agreed the credentialing programme had a threefold purpose: to protect and serve consumers of coaching services; to measure and certify competence of individuals and to inspire pursuit of continuous development.

It charged its Credentialing and Program Accreditation Committee with creating taskforces to look at topics including whether:

  • to retain three-tier credentialing
  • to consider hours of training and if so, how many
  • it should accept training from non-approved providers
  • to require a written and oral exam for all levels of credentials
  • oral exams should be by the ICF or approved test providers
  • assessors should be compensated.

Volume 5, Issue 2

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