Monday, July 5, 2010

Misconceptions about Professional Coaches

People still have a lot of misconceptions about professional coaches.  This article from the International Coaching Federation addresses the topic very well. I am a professionally certified coach through the ICF and also a Certified Master Christian Coach through Christian Coaches Network. Many of the coaches I work with in CCN hold both ICF and CCN certification. All are thoroughly professional.

Lexington, KY, April 16, 2010 — Professional coaching is proven to be an effective method to help develop potential in individuals, teams, and entire organizations. However, this fact is often overshadowed by the misconceptions about professional coaches and the services they provide.

“As with any young profession that has experienced rapid growth, misconceptions have surfaced about coaching that discredit the work and dedication of individuals who have chosen coaching as a career,” said International Coach Federation (ICF) President and Master Certified Coach Giovanna D’Alessio. “Unfortunately, for many people, the only experiences they have with a life or business coach are the parodies they see on television or ‘quick-fix’ coaching offers they see advertised online. The ICF wants to challenge those misrepresentations and let people know of the great benefits our profession has to offer based on documented return on investment and expectations.”

Coaching generates a solid return on investment for clients and creates positive changes in client goal areas for both individuals and companies. According to the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client Study, an overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of individuals who have experienced professional coaching report being “very satisfied” with their coaching experience and 96 percent said they would repeat it given the same circumstances.

The ICF would like to educate people about what coaching is, how it works, and the great results they can experience through coaching by addressing some of the most common misconceptions:

There is no training involved in becoming a coach. The ICF established Core Competencies that define the required skill set of a professional coach and establish the foundation for the professional credentialing examination and accreditation for coach training programs. ICF Credentials identify coaches who have met established standards of knowledge, skills and practice. Coaches have 135 ICF-accredited/approved coach training programs to choose from - independent programs to those associated with large universities and institutions.

Coaching is not regulated therefore there are no rules or standards for coaches to follow. The ICF has established a Code of Ethics to which ICF members and ICF Credential holders pledge commitment and accountability to standards of professional conduct. The ICF Code of Ethics is widely accepted as the industry’s golden standard.

Consumers have no protection if a coaching partnership turns sour. All coaches who are members of the ICF or hold an ICF Credential subscribe to the ICF Code of Ethics and are subject to an Ethical Conduct Review Process. This process includes a set of procedures that provide for review, investigation and response to alleged unethical practices or behavior deviating from the established ICF Code of Ethics.

Coaches are people who don’t want to spend the time or expense needed to earn a Ph.D. in therapy or related field. A majority of coaches are highly educated and have chosen coaching as a second or additional career. According to the 2007 ICF Global Coaching Study, 53 percent of coaches have acquired an advanced level of education (i.e., master’s, doctorate). Professional coaching is a distinct service which focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to goal-setting, outcome creation and personal change management. Unlike a therapist, a coach does not focus directly on relieving psychological pain or treating cognitive or emotional disorders. Trained coaches are taught when to refer their clients for therapeutic help.

Coaching is for “losers.” Coaching is helpful to all types of people from high-level executives to stay-at-home mothers who are ready to make real changes in their careers or life in general. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the coaching client already has. Coaching clients are well-educated: 81 percent hold a university degree and 41 percent hold a post-graduate degree, according to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study. Well-established entities such as IBM, NASA, and the BBC are large supporters of coaching and have implemented award-winning coaching programs that provide documented evidence of how coaching creates extraordinary results for their business and employees alike.

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a distinct service and differs greatly from therapy, consulting, mentoring or training.

The International Coach Federation is the leading global organization for coaches, with over 17,100 members in more than 90 countries, dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. The ICF is the only organization that awards a global credential which is currently held by more than 6,100 coaches worldwide. For more information on how to become or find an ICF Credentialed coach, please visit

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