Q and A: Janet Wilson

17 May 2017

We're proud that the Barefoot Postgraduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching is accredited by both the University of Chester and the International Coach Federation. As a part of our A-Z of Coaching campaign we caught up with Janet Wilson, President of the UK Chapter of the ICF, to find out more about what the International Coach Federation does and why accreditation is so important for coaches.

Q. What is the ICF?

A. The International Coach Federation is an association of coaches started in 1995 by Thomas Leonard. It is an organisation for coaches to support each other and grow the profession. It has grown into a global body with over 30 000 members across 142 countries. The work done in the ICF strives to further professional coaching for coaches and for those being served by coaching. It consists of a network of chapters that serve and support their members locally. We have one of the biggest chapters here in the UK with around 1700 members.

Q. How does the ICF define coaching?

A. ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. 

Q. What does membership of the ICF offer individual coaches?

A. Membership of a professional body gives you the opportunity to keep up to date and learn about coaching, to bench mark your practice, meet with other coaches and increase your credibility in the market. ICF Members receive a multitude of benefits, starting with access to educational research, networking opportunities, and globally recognized credentialing and accreditation services. ICF is particularly proud of the way it builds, supports and preserves the integrity of the coaching profession through standards and programs.

Q. Why is it important for coaches to have credentials?

A. As with many other professions, your training is the first step to becoming a proficient coach. As you practice you apply the theory and practice from your training and develop your ability to serve your clients. The credential offered by the ICF recognises that you have fulfilled rigorous education and have had experience of coaching. It is an external validation of your skill and practice and demonstrates commitment to excellence in coaching. Both with training and practice, the process of achieving a credential reinforces the core competencies of coaching.

In the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study we learnt that coaches who hold a credential from a professional coaching association report higher annual revenue from coaching than their peers without a credential. 77% of the coaches surveyed agreed that clients expect their coaches to be credentialed. I think this is very true in the UK where coaching is becoming well known and used. 

Q. Can all types of coaches join the ICF?

A. Many of our members specialise in Executive Coaching, Life Coaching, Leadership Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Career Coaching and other skilled coaching fields. There are more and more areas of interest and we are keen to support anyone who has an interest in professional coaching.

Q. The ICF exists to advance the coaching profession. Can you give an example of the sort of work you do to contribute towards this?

A. Research: ICF conducts research that covers a vast spectrum of trends and issues in coaching. Some of the signature pieces of industry research include our Global Coaching Survey and Global Consumer Awareness Survey (both conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) and Building a Coaching Culture (conducted in collaboration with the Human Capital Institute). ICF has a research portal that contains articles, case studies, journals and reports about coaching and related topics which is open to ICF Members and to the general public. 

In the UK we are part of the Future for Coaching Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder group which includes representatives from corporates and other organisations, leading professional bodies in the UK, academia, research institutes and Coaching at Work Magazine. The FCC was launched in April 2015 with the aim of being a catalyst and focal point for collaboration across the coaching system so that we are all better able to face into the future in a professional and thoughtful way.  You will find more on a web page hosted on the Coaching at Work Magazine website : www.coaching-at-work.com/future-of-coaching

We regularly partner with charities and other sectors to offer the experience of coaching to staff and clients too. This is one of our activities to serve society and offers members the opportunity to coach people in different sectors.

Q. How does the ICF differ from other professional bodies like the EMCC and Association for Coaching?

A. ICF is a truly global body and is considered a global leader in coaching. As the association has grown our thinking has been enriched by the diverse perspectives offered by different cultures and countries. This has resulted in ongoing review and updates to key policies ensuring that we are relevant and fit for purpose. 

We are very proud of the ICF Code of Ethics which promotes professional and ethical coaching practices.  As a member you are required to uphold the code and by telling people about this, we raise awareness outside the coaching profession of the integrity, commitment and ethical conduct of ICF Members and ICF Credential-holders.

We work closely with both the Association for Coaching and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council in the UK.  We have a shared goal of supporting professional coaching and regularly hold joint events for professional development and learning. 

The Barefoot Coaching Postgraduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching is one of only 245 ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes in the world.