ICF Challenges Common Coaching Perceptions

Group says coaching is portrayed negatively in media, celebrity culture.

Lexington, Ky. — July 25

In recent years, coaching as portrayed on TV, in magazines, and utilized by celebrities has not always created an accurate perception of professional coaching, according to the International Coach Federation (ICF). “Any profession that experiences significant growth in a short amount of time will face misconceptions,” said Ed Modell, ICF president and professional certified coach. “It’s unfortunate that the only experiences many have with coaching are the parodies they see on TV or ‘quick fix’ coaching they see advertised. ICF sees it as a duty to correct these inconsistencies by educating the public about professional coaching and the documented benefits coaching can offer.”

According to the ICF, common misconceptions on professional coaching include:

Coaching is not regulated; therefore, there are no standards for coaches to follow. The ICF established a code of ethics, creating standards of professional conduct which ICF members and ICF credential-holders pledge to uphold. Recently, in a joint initiative aimed at self-regulation, the ICF and EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) have filed with the European Union a common code of conduct as the benchmark for the coaching and mentoring industry.

Coaches do not need training. 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, as well as practice.

Coaching is like therapy or consulting. 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 on relieving past psychological pain or treating cognitive or emotional disorders. Trained coaches are taught when to refer clients for therapeutic help. Unlike a consultant, a coach does not provide clients answers or solutions based on expertise or knowledge in a certain area. Trained coaches seek to elicit solutions and strategies from their client.

Coaching is not proven to produce a return on investment (ROI). According to the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client Study, the median ROI reported by companies that participated in the study and were able to provide calculations was seven times their initial investment in coaching. Almost 96 percent of study participants indicated they would repeat the coaching experience given the same circumstances.

Coaching is for people who do not have their lives in order. The ICF says a coach is for anyone looking to make changes in their careers or lives. Organizations such as IBM, NASA, and the BBC have implemented coaching programs.

Consumers have no protection in a coaching partnership. All coaches who are members of the ICF or who hold an ICF credential subscribe to the ICF code of ethics and are subject to an ethical conduct review process. This includes a set of procedures that provide for review, investigation and response to alleged unethical practices or behavior deviating from the ICF code of ethics.

Source: International Coach Federation