Last Wednesday on the 16th of March ICA’s CEO, Robyn Logan hosted a live panel discussion about untangling the jargon and process around Coach Certification and Credentialing. Our panelists shared their certification decision-making process and answered the most common questions around Certification such as:
- Do I need Certification?
- What are the various peak bodies in the Coaching Industry?
- What Certification and Credential options do coaches have?
- What is the difference between ACTP, ICF, IAC, MCC, PCC etc.?
- What's the difference between ACSTH, ACTP and CCE training and their credential pathways?
- How ICA’s programs apply to ICF Credentialing?
Listen to Coaching Panel Untangle Coach Certification
Kathy Munoz, Executive Coach, United States
Kathy’s learning path and career transition from legal work to coaching are her “dream come true”. Her credentials include a PCC from the International Coaching Federation, a CMC from the Behavioral Coaching Institute, an MRT from the International Reiki Institute, and a certification in the ground-breaking Wellness Inventory program.
Kelly Smales, Life Coach, Canada
Kelly received her coach certification from the International Coach Academy and she had her own business as a coach ever since. She is also a program consultant for ICA and has been working with us for many years actually running student support for a long time.
Aleka Thorvalson, Holistic Coach, United States
Aleka Thorvalson is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) trained through the International Coach Academy in the Advanced Coach Training Program. She is a member and a Professionally Credentialed Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Along with hosting a popular podcast, The Holistic Health Hour, she is also Health & Wellness Coach Group Leader at the International Coaching Academy (ICA) and a blog contributor at Best Kept Self.
Robyn Logan: Welcome everyone to untangling certification!
My name is Robyn Logan I am the CEO of International Coach Academy and we are joined today by our wonderful guest. I’ll introduce them in a minute but before I do, I’ll just give you a bit of an outline of what we are going to cover on this call.
Certification such a popular topic for us today at ICA we get asked questions about accreditation certification all the time. So here is this teleseminar that we put together to try and untangling it because it can be quite complicated. Just to begin with ICA is a global school that was founded in 2001 and is based in Australia. That was before the internet was fully mature and we were online from day one and global from day one. We currently have about 40 stuff located in 11 different countries and coaches studying from over 90 countries around the world and tour classes run across 4 time zones. The reason I give you those stats and a snapshot of who we are is just to give you some context for our choices when it comes to certification and accreditation. So let’s go meet our guest and then we get into it.
We have with us today Kathy Munoz who is executive coaching at ICA but also holds positions as an internal coach. We will get her to tell you about it.
Next is Kelly Smales, a program consultant for ICA who has been working with ICA for many years. She actually ran student support for a long time and also has her own business as a coach.
And we have Aleka Thorvalson who is a graduate of ICA and also a PCC coach with the International Coaching Federation. I’m going to get each person to just introduce themselves so you get an idea who they are and then we are going to know more about certification.
Cathy, I know that your title on LinkedIn is incredibly long. You know what I am talking about right?
Kathy: yes! What is it? It’s something like…
Robyn: hang on I’ve got it here “Global Consumer Experience Design & Development Manager at Ford Motor Company” is that right?
Kathy: right and the longer the title is the more important it sounds.
Robyn: okay so can you please give us some interpretation/translation of it?
Kathy: sure my pleasure. So hi everyone! So glad to spend the time with all of you today and share a little bit about myself and then answer questions with my colleagues around the credentials you pass us.
As a way of background, I actually started with Robyn you might not remember this, but I was one of the original graduating students from ICA. I started in 2001…
Robyn: great news! Yeah!
Kathy: yeah and then I came back. So I’ve been with ICA a very long time ago and coaching is near and dear to my heart. And it was actually coming to coaching where I was able to use my coaching skills and actually changed profession. So when I came to ICA getting my certification I was working in a legal field and I had my own legal practice. And I’d heard about coaching I wanted to explore. I wanted to do something global so I came to ICA and I never left.
So that helps me think about how I can apply coaching in ways that would impact the world and I have the opportunity to work for that as I moved my way through Ford motor company and now I’m in the marketing and sales area and we are bringing coaching to our dealership worldwide.
Currently, we have about 300 coaches in the program who are coaching in our dealerships around the consumer experience. And I am responsible for supervising the coaching and creating and developing content related to how to help our store owners impact the customer in a positive way.
Robyn: And so with that Ford coaching program is that between the US or everywhere?
Kathy: it’s everywhere it’s worldwide.
Robyn: yeah it’s amazing! Thanks, Kathy!
Robyn: Kelly is also a graduate of ICA. Hi! Do you want to tell us something about you?
Kelly: sure I actually, I say I have an interesting story but I think everyone who comes to ICA really has something interesting. I used to have a company in scientific services, I sold the company and that lead me to coach.
Kelly: I had a “none compete” clause which was for five years. I knew it was my time for a left turn or a new chapter. I had experience with hosting hockey families from around the world who were looking for their chance to jump into the NHL. I got involved with the team and I knew coaching was where I wanted to be. I wanted to formalize what I was already doing. And so I research and found ICA it was a perfect fit. I enrolled and I guess that was about 5 years ago.
Kelly: yeah and then just when I graduated I ended up getting the role at student support so for the last almost 4 years. I’ve been supporting students and hosting Q and A calls and helping people realize their coach training dreams.
Kelly: and just recently last month I made a shift and now I’m on the other side of the fence helping potential students who are interested in coach training to understand what that can do for them and also helping to untangle the mystery on certification and the accreditation.
Robyn: yeah totally! And you are in business as well as a coach?
Kelly: yes and my business is called Yawi and that stands you are absolutely worth it. I feel that self-worth is a really a root of everything.
Kelly: It affects all our aspects of our life so it’s closely linked to underline beliefs. My aim is to help my client shift their perspective to understand that they won’t allow anything that isn’t in their direct control to dictate their self-worth.
Kelly: So that’s where I spend my time when I’m outside of ICA.
Robyn: Excellent! Ok, great thanks!
And then Aleka another graduate from ICA and also a PCC from the ICF, do you want to tell us something about you as a coach?
Aleka: sure I would love too and I love that you are absolutely worth it. That is great!
Aleka: So I started my coaching path kind of like I think many do with a being a consultant. As in neuromuscular therapy and nutrition and that took me down into psychology and then I actually had my own coach. And from there I really recognize that coaching was the model that sat right with me.
So I actually took a few different training programs. I got my coaching certification through another school and then as I was going along I research more programs and found the ICA. And since then, I graduated in 2014, I think and I got my PCC status in early 2015 and now I am a certified professional coach trained through the ICA and I do have my PCC status from the ICF.
My area of expertise and my niche in coaching is holistic life strategy coaching and I have a thriving and busy, awesomely fun coaching practice here in Chelsea South Carolina. And I also see clients virtually. Now the world is so small, right? I have Skype, phone and face time and all these great ways to meet with clients all over the world which I love.
I am a blogger for Best Kept Self which is a big national blog and I love being able to write to them. As well as that I host a popular podcast called “The Holistic Health Hour” which is super fun because I get to get on the radio and talk and take calls and just learn as much as I do. I learn more from those experiences meeting and speaking to people on the call in and questions and it just makes me think that I love doing that.
And now I’ve moved into group coaching. I’m venturing into that now because I’m trying to help more and more people so that seems to be a really great way to do it. It’s kind of my new baby right now understanding how to make group coaching more accessible and make it work for more and more people.
Robyn: ahm wow!
Robyn: That’s amazing fantastic! And you know that’s a great segway into the context for certification because if you are looking to become a coach and you are looking at the options of accreditation of certification I think it’s important to take a step back and look at the context for coaching.
I picked out 3 key things that for us are key things in the context for coaching that lead us towards the ICF as the choice of the accrediting body for us as the school and they are:
That Coaching is Global that’s the first thing. A very high proportion of graduates, more than 80%, coach on the phone and some do all their coaching on the phone. Which is quite amazing. What that does mean is that your market is not just the market where you live. So I live in Melbourne Australia and Melbourne is quite a big city, I was doing face to face coaching. Once I have a niche that is quite tightly niched I would really have a good market. But I take let say that niche and take it globally then it’s a much more appealing way to business for me anyway. So coaching is global and there are no borders or boundaries.
The next thing is a Coaching is not Regulated. So it’s not like therapy, like psychology and psychiatrist which is regulated in most countries around the world. There is a debate in the US about this and it would probably won’t happen but coaching it’s not regulated at the moment.
And the 3rd thing is Coaching is the new Discipline. Now when I say a new discipline it’s been around for a while. We’ve been train coaches for 15 years. But during my first years coaching I often didn’t mention that I had a coach training school when I went to parties because in Australia coaching was not well known and was something that only Americans could do. And it’s come a long way since then. It’s not entirely new now. It’s established as a field and it’s established as a profession. But in terms of a methodology or discipline, I think it’s quite new and it draws on a range of other philosophies of discipline like emotional intelligence, organizational psychology, appreciative inquiry, cognitive behavior therapy and some parts of psychology like positive psychology. So it brings in a whole range of things.
So these are the reason we have aligned with the ICF. Firstly the ICF is global and growing with chapters all around the world. I would acknowledge the ICF for the advances that they have made particularly in Asia and in some other areas of the world over the last few years. Because at the beginning they were mostly in the US. That’s not the case anymore, they have a very strong chapter all around the world. The ICF had the most robust list of coaching competencies which helps when coaching is not a regulated industry. For me, it’s very important to be aligned with the biggest industry body which gives some checks and balances and provides some sort of consistency and sign of quality throughout the world.
Coaching is a new discipline and one of the things that are not popular is ICF policies that they don’t recognize prior learning. If you are a therapist or a teacher and you come to the coach training often we find that people want to get some credit for the training they’ve already done in their psychology course in their teaching degree. The ICF is quite adamant about that. You might already be skilled in active listening but your listening within the context of the therapist and so re-learning that within the context of coaching is different. So you know there’s a lot more to say but there are 3 key reasons why our school is aligned with the ICF.
So what we are going to do now is go to each of the guests and asked them specific questions directly about the ICF and then will open up for some questions from callers and I will take it from there.
So Kathy lets go to you to start with. I wanted to know why at Ford they want certified coaches?. What’s the reason for the alignment with the ICF?
Kathy: I think the ICF alignment is about recognizing coaching excellent. So as Robyn said the ICF has a very high rigorous standard and so graduating from a school like ICA who is accredited, you know you have a rigorous program. I know ICA has a rigorous program because I supported renewing the accreditation with the ICF. So first thing I think that’s important. For Ford its equally important the ICF is recognizes as a global governing organization. Global because we have coaches globally. But also Ford believes that their accredited coaches have to have the highest standard of professionalism, of reliability and experience. Most of our coaches would be required to have some type of coaching background and have graduated from a certified coach program accredited by the ICF. That why we’ve aligned with the ICF, because it’s just set the high standard. I think there’s an unsaid kind of level of excellence for coaches and your ability as a coach to want to be in an unregulated industry recognize as someone who really takes seriously the ability to coach, to have deeper level of conversations, to affect the whole person both in conversation, to understand behaviours and being able to relate, being able to ask to people for questions. I think there is overarching expressive idea that coaches who invested themselves with certification and accreditation really excel.
Robyn: and yeah. What do you think…what do you think of a coach with something like the IAC? I know you won’t be going to all the other bodies that offer accreditation, but globally IAC is another governing body and it was actually founded by Thomas Leonard who initially founded the ICF.
Robyn: And it’s not a time-based system or one where you just have to make certain skills that you can be accredited. But who chooses that then? If Ford is not choosing that…
Kathy: well you know that’s a really great question. And I think it goes back to business and professional acumen. So the key to any kind of certification is recognizing that you want to hold yourself to a higher standard as a coach in the industry that we know is unregulated globally. But also you want to introduce yourself to that client to someone who wants to invest in you. So you are right we have seen over time different organization around the globe who have different kinds of credentialing criteria accreditation criteria. And I think like you Robyn at ICA we are not saying “this one is better than the other” were choosing we are making the same choice as Ford and for a lot of coaches apart from myself.
The reason I chose you International Coaching Federation as a governing organization was that I got credentialed with the ICF was that at the time there was world renown, had 17,000 coaches and were the body that was the biggest which meant there was more opportunity to connect to the network.
Kathy: Some of the other organizations either weren’t as big at the time or did not have the capacity to do so...
Kathy: respecting all kinds of certification I think like anything else you want to be grounded in something.
Robyn: Yeah. So Aleka I’d like to find out why you in a perfect position to be looking at all sorts of different options. And why did you choose the school that was aligned with the ICF?
Aleka: that’s a great question. You know I did also have the experience of going to other coaching programs before I came to the ICA. And I actually was an active coach and I was coaching and I felt that I really wanted to go even deeper. I wanted to be the very best coach that I could be. And I started realizing around me that there were many different programs and they were turning out many different kinds of coaches. And as I began to look at the coaching profession I started to recognize that there are many different levels of expertise within the coaching field.
Aleka: and for my accreditation and credentialing really important as a standard to set me apart. So I did a lot of research on you know coming from the psychological model. You know and I know about boards and licensing and ethics and standards. I really wanted to find that within the coaching field and for that lead me to the ICF. So as I research different programs of credentials I recognize that the ICF was the best that I could find. It seems the most expensive rigorous standard and I really appreciate that the ethics that they held. So through there, I decided I need to go to a school and go through the programs that actually affiliate with it. Because I realize that the programs that I did previous to that were not to the same level and that brought me to the ICA.
Kathy: Hi this is Kathy. I just wanted to also add something that I didn’t mention and Aleka you brought it. You made me think about this…
Kathy: the competencies primarily
Kathy: When I was looking for coaching schools and when I learned that ICA was going through the accreditation process with ICF I joined them. I was really intrigued by what are competencies were and then once I came to ICA what I really came to realize and I’m sure you and Kelly did too is that the school and the community and the way we connect really lives and breeze those competencies like it is the soul of the school I think. I don’t know that if you find that anywhere else. I wish I was a student from time to time again. There is magic that happens at ICA and I really believe it. It’s built on the fundamental competencies of ICF. Would you both agree?
Aleka: Absolutely! And that’s something that really appeals to me as well and after going through other programs. I really was able to see it was vastly different at the ICA than some of the other programs I did. I certainly gained stuff and information from the other programs, but as far as creating a program where it could actually take with me to become a coach and have the confidence and the expertise out in the real world to coach, ICA was far better than anything I’d ever experience prior to that.
Robyn: ok great! Why did you choose to get any credentials with the ICF given to become a PCC as you need 750 coaching hours? You knew that wouldn’t happen overnight. And I know that so far it is a process to become a PCC. So why did you feel that it is important?
Aleka: well for me I tend to be one of those people that want to be the best that I can be. To me getting the PCC status was really almost like a way that I was proving to myself that I was actually doing those hours and I was actually gaining the confidence and the expertise and the understanding of coaching. So it really was a way of not just having those letters beside my name but to add another kind of level to the coaching I do. Yeah, I’m happy those hours are behind me but it actually just makes you a much better coach.
Robyn: ahm ok good. Ok, excellent.
I think we established the reasons individuals, companies, and schools choose to be accredited by the ICF. But I think it is important to just let people know that it was a choice. Like for us as a school, it was an absolute choice to become accredited as there are many other options. We could have gone with certificate IV in Australia for example. But the standards of the ICF are very high and actually sometimes it’s really annoying. But it’s a good thing too.
Okay so before I go to Kelly, I’m just going briefly untangle some of the accreditation certification issues that people get confusing. So there are 2 things.
There are individual pathways to credentials with the ICF and they are ACC, PCC or MCC. And each one of those requires you to complete a certain number of coach training hours and a certain number of coaching hours. But most of the coaching that comes to our school is coming with the goal of becoming an ACC or PCC and we will speak later on with what that coaching career looks like and how that they would apply for an MCC because that’s 2,500hours.
So for ACC, you need 60 hours of training and 100 hours of coaching. And for PCC you need 125 hours of training and 750 hours or actually coaching. So that’s, in a nutshell, is the individual pathway you can take to be recognized as a coach and you can find that information on the ICF’s website.
Now, as far as the coach training the ICF requires you to do. It’s not any coach training. It has to be a course that has been accredited, it has to be an ACTP (accredited coach training program) that has 125 hours of coach-specific coach training.
And then there’s ACHTH. And ACHTH is the accreditation that is 60 hours.
So these are the 2 options.
And what happens is that the coach training schools apply to the ICF to have their program accredited as either ACHTH or ACTP level. And it’s quite a lengthy process that requires having a curriculum, looking at the biographies, the trainer’s accreditation and it’s quite detailed.
That’s a brief summary but I’m going to have Kelly talk about what she sees the key things are that people get confuse about.
Kelly: well let me see. The first thing we get asked all the time and there’s confusion about what accreditation vs. certification vs. credential. So if I were to go over that 3 sorts of quickly.
Accreditation is something that does not happen to people it happens to a program. So our certified and advance programs are accredited as ACTP by the ICF. The ICF doesn’t offer programs but as a governing body, they do accredit the program.
And then there is the certification which is something that you as a coach would want to have in almost all circumstances. If you go through the certified or advanced programs and graduate you are considered a Certified Professional Coach CPC. And that is recognized around the world by the ICF and others who are looking for you to have that designation. And on your business cards, you can put CPC for Certified Professional Coach.
So as somebody comes to coach training that’s your first step to get certified and then once you graduate you can take your certificate and go get your credentials with the ICF. Which just give you another level of credibility saying “yes we recognize your training, your effort, your investment and we recognize not only you but the school that you put all of this investment into” so then you would go and get your credential which is either ACC, PCC or MCC.
Robyn: ok wonderful! And so are you finding people who are confused or do most people have common questions?
Kelly: well I laugh because when I enrolled in the ICA I knew where I was, where I wanted to be but I was totally confused I didn’t understand the difference between the ICA and ICF.
Kelly: so I did this as a student I was confused and then working with the support team we are asked about questions about certifications all the time. Eg What does this mean when I graduate? When can I call myself a certified coach? What do I have to do next? Or do I get my credentials at ICA?
And I host of the Q & A calls each month that was definitely the most dominating questions. As far as what hours are allowed to be used to work my credential, what do these different terms mean? What are my next steps to get to my goal? And so I do that all the time.
And then with my new shift recently to program adviser, I find that I am also answering a lot out of those questions to people who are interested in becoming a certified professional coach.
Robyn: so what kind of answer do you have about what hours you can count? I heard you mention that.
Kelly: For your ACC which is your first step, you would require 100 coaching hours and that has to be a minimum of 75% paid hours. And I’ll get into that definition in the second. And a minimum of 8 clients. What’s really unique about our program and what I didn’t realize until I started in this role last month was how big of a benefit our peer coaching program is. Because what I’m hearing from a lot of people I am talking to about our programs is that they match up with one of their peers during class for a half-hour here and each week half-hour, then their clients next week for half an hour and you can count those hours towards your requirements to get your credential.
Whereas when I started another coaching program, that actually took place outside of the classroom where you bartered hours towards your requirements with the ICF. And so especially for a brand new coach it's one of the biggest benefits that we offered. and I didn’t realize that. So that’s my new epiphany.
Robyn: yeah no really good.
Robyn: ok so let’s open up the line and see if anybody’s got a specific question. And it can be about your journey as a coach or it can be about something to do with the ICF.
Ellie: I have a question?
Robyn: sure who is this?
Ellie: This is Ellie from Boston.
Robyn: oh great Ellie thank you.
Ellie: so I was on the ICF website looking at various programs that offer online training and that were accredited by ICF. I notice that the cost of the program varies quite widely. And there is an explanation provided that it’s because different programs include different components. And I was confused by what that meant looking at the different programs' websites. You know I am considering ICA for a number of reasons and I was wondering what is included in the cost for training through ICA that might not be included in other programs? and are there other aspects of training that someone would need to pay to keep going to get them?
Robyn: ahm yes
Ellie: and that’s through ICF after I finish ICF.
Robyn: yes so that’s a good question. So I can give you my answer but Kelly might have some additional things to add. But definitely there are sometimes hidden costs for some training programs. The peer coaching is one of them. With ICA peer coaching is included. I’m not sure if there are any programs that would allow you to clock up as many coaching hours as you can with us that you can in count towards your coaching that’s one thing.
The other thing is the mentor coaching. You know mentor coaching is anywhere from I guess $800 to $2,000 dollars. And in order to get your PCC, you are required to have 10 hours of mentor coaching. This is a new change with the ICF. Mentor coaching was always there but it becomes a lot more robust and they’ve been very specific about it now. It’s not something that you can do at the end of your course. You’re supposed to do it all the way through your training and there are also lots of requirements like 3 hours must be 1 on 1, and they can never be more than 10 students in the class. Mentor coaching is included in the cost of our programs. I know for us as a school it’s increased the delivery cost for sure and it would have impacted other schools. Some of the schools just drop it.
Then the other thing you asked about is the price. I think some schools are really overpriced when I see $12,000 dollars courses to become a certified coach, which is what our coaches are considering, I think that’s too much. And I think some schools are incredibly underpriced and they tried to compete on price, which is something we don’t do and I recommend students trying not to either. I know budget is an issue but honestly, price is no indicator of anything except how much that school thinks in they can charge or should charge. Did that make sense?
Ellie: Yes that was very helpful thank you.
Robyn: and Kelly do you want to add anything?
Kelly: Sure. Hi, Ellie, this is a really good question. And it’s one that I’ve been asked over the last few weeks. So again I’m learning what people are interested in when they are looking for coach training now. But with our program, everything is included, right from the materials that you’re going to read, your participation in our community forum which is where you can connect with coaches worldwide. It’s just an amazing thing. The mentor coaching as Robyn mentioned is included, your graduation is included, everything you need to graduate as a certified professional coach is included. Once you graduate that is where you would pay your fee when you go to the ICF for your credential. But everything up to that point you are a certified coach is included in the cost of our program.
ICA student: I am currently an ICA student and have just moved into the advance program. And I want to say that one of the things that I’ve been most important to me as a student is the support from our training our teaching faculty that they are incredible and always very approachable.
ICA student: So that’s plays a big important part. And I talk to either coaching students like myself and they all agree that having access to the coaches and asking questions has been wonderful their models are available.
ICA student: And that’s important for new coaches coming in to know that they not just…the set point of view but from the back of the point of view to support.
Robyn: yeah that’s great! Thanks--- you know that’s nice to hear. We have got all the PCC trainers now. So they know first hand the job of the certification. So let’s just hear from each of our guests. Anything that they sound interesting on this call or wasn’t covered or would like to highlight Kathy I would throw to you first.
Kathy: Okay! You know I think Robyn you left on the good note when you said “no two students that are the same at ICA” and I think that it’s really worth mentioning about ICA is that while ICA is accredited by the ICF because your holding your training and your connections with students who want to become a certified professional coach with a very high regard, one of the reasons why you stay connected to the ICA is because the students are all unique. While on your training you coach at a higher level to ensure that whoever comes to your door for whatever amount of training is going to leave knowing they got the best training they could possibly get.
Robyn: yeah totally! Well said, Kathy. Aleka is there anything you wanted to add?
Aleka: yeah sure! First of all, I am learning on this call. This is great! I do want to speak to something I was going to mention earlier about the earlier caller that has a degree or background of psychology. And that is one thing that I really appreciated about the ICA was that I love the fact that the ICA allows you to identify and develop your own coaching model your own voice.
Aleka: that one is the new concept for me coming from a traditional clinical psychology type of program where it’s really given to you. You know and even other coaching programs that I did the coaching models were very much “this is the model we use”. So I really appreciated the fact that I was not only able to find my voice in coaching clients but find my own voice in my own coaching business. I became clearer not just that I am a coach but why I coach.
Aleka: so when I speak deeper into my own path just about why I love what I do and I think that was probably one of the most powerful takeaways that I had from the ICA.
Robyn: ah yeah I think that’s great! That finding your own voice because once again just returning to the beginning of this call coaching in context. There are different clients, different coaching outcomes - it’s all different. And so you really need a coaching model that works in that context, not the coaching model that happens to be the model that the founder of the coach training school you went too happens to use. So I think it’s critical and thank you for reminding us Aleka. That’s fantastic! And a really great note in the call. Thanks, everybody for coming along. Well, be sending out the recording very soon. And I look forward to seeing you all as certified accredited coaches. Thanks, everyone!
Aleka: Thank you!
Kathy: Thank you!
Kelly: Thank you!