ICF credentials. Why do they matter? What's it like trying to get one?
Having spent the last few weekends at some of the training modules meeting new students, and getting to know the Animas Diploma in Transformational Coaching in greater depth, I've found that questions around one particular topic seem to come up time and time again: ICF (International Coach Federation) credentialing.
"Do I need to be credentialed?" "Is it worth doing?" "Will it be beneficial to me as a coach?" These are all great questions, and ones to which I didn't have the answers, and so, eager to find out more, I reached out to four Animas coaches that recently passed the International Coach Federation (ICF) credentialing process to find out why they sought it in the first place and how it has helped to improve their coaching...
Why did you seek credentials/accreditation?
Alex Kergall: The ICF is the most recognised coaching body internationally. If you want to work with businesses, it is key to be ICF accredited. There is a fierce competition and being ICF accredited is a plus. The ICF does not open all the doors, but it gives more credibility when you talk to HR.Considering I am really serious about making coaching my full time job, this was a no brainer. I had to be qualified by the ICF.
Marco Ortolina: The ICF is the most widely known accreditation body for coaching. I see my potential clients coming from many parts of the world, as I can coach in English, French, and Italian. As a result, I felt compelled to have a certification that has a global awareness. Also, the process in itself to get the accreditation is another chance to practice coaching.
Ruth Randall: It had always been my intention to gain the credentials post-qualification. One of my reasons for choosing Animas in the first place was that it was an accredited course, and this extra credential, I suppose for me was more about having that professional credibility. It is something different that I can show that I have, and it’s not just something I got up and fancied doing one day, I have taken the professional route to it.
Alessandro Arosio: I am an executive coaching and in order to be able to work with corporations, the ICF accreditation is a prerequisite. I might need to go for more like additional diplomas and potentially a master in coaching. So in summary, without ICF credentials you will struggle to work credibly as an executive coach.
What was your journey to accreditation like? (ups, downs, what you expected? any surprises?)
Alex: The journey was pretty smooth, I knew when I started animas that I had to be ICF qualified as well. I then started as the very beginning to pile up all the hours. It has actually pushed me to find new clients.
I had no expectation! Expectation is a prison, I did the best I could and managed to be accredited!
Marco: Retrospectively, the process was smooth. It probably took longer than expected (my final module with Animas was July 2017, and I got ICF certified one year later), but coaching is not my only job at the moment. I still have a full time job as business unit manager for General Electric.
No surprises, and no ups/down. The process to get the accreditation is quite clear, and Animas give plenty of explanation around it, either on the website or through its coaches (Laure Polidori in particular).
Ruth: I qualified with Animas, and started getting paying clients quite quickly, and so just carried on. At that point I didn’t know if credibility was still important as nobody had really asked me if I was credentialed, so I just carried on. However, because I do a lot business networking groups, there were so many coaches, that the credential became more relevant and so I wanted a way to distinguish myself from the rest of the coaches in these networking groups. The process was great, it can seem daunting at first, but I took a lot of positives from it, including a lot of self-reflection. I felt that it made me more rounded as a coach.
Alessandro Arosio: The journey was not super easy. I think at the beginning the 100 hours threshold seems like an impossible objective to achieve, but as soon as you start, you realise you make quick progress. Getting 75 hours paid is difficult because we are not used to ask for money, especially if you come from a corporate role, where you only negotiate salary when you are hired. Mentoring was really good as it helped me improve constantly as a coach. I never had a "down" I have to say, as I was very focussed on getting the accreditation and determined not to let anything get in my way.
What did you feel that you learned about yourself on the journey, through the mentoring etc?
Alex: I worked with Laure and the group sessions. The group sessions were good because I could hear questions and issues of other coaches.
The personal mentoring helped me to have a more accurate view of myself. I became more aware of what I had to improve as a coach.
Marco: The mentoring was key in getting the accreditation. I benefited a lot from the practicums, the coaching webinars, and the individual mentoring sessions with Laure. Mentoring was very valuable, in that it helped me to clarify some aspect of my coaching approach, as it developed through the 100-hour journey.
Ruth: The mentoring was really really helpful for me actually, as it put me in the position where I needed to reflect on my practice more, and I think I had maybe got a bit complacent with stopping and reflecting on my own practice, so that was a really good process to go through.
Being completely honest, I did procrastinate doing the actual test for about a week, and I realised that was because I didn’t want to do it and then fail it, but actually when I sat down to do it it was really really good, because it made me think more about what’s important in coaching, and the core values of coaching as well, so was really useful experience, but also showed me where the gaps are in my experience. It’s given me my next steps of what I need to focus on learning before I do more of that side of coaching.
Alessandro: For me, mentoring was of paramount importance. I learned that I was often time jumping to fast to conclusions on clients' challenges. This is a risk that is particular to people like l who come from the corporate world and have been paid over twenty years to analyse, decide and implement. I found myself doing a lot of this in my coaching. I eventually grew out of it. Mentoring also provide that third pair of eyes on the work you do and helps contrast your own view which I find extremely helpful.
Finally, What advice would you give to someone who is deciding whether or not to gain their ICF credentials based on your own thoughts/experiences?
Alex: How serious are you about becoming the best coach you can be?
ICF qualification also gave me a confidence booster – Being part of one of the most respected coaching bodies in the world – It pushes you to improve session after session to serve your client as best as you can.
Marco: My advice would be: go and get the accreditation. As I said, the process itself is part of a coaching journey that anyway we would have to take (the 100 hour, the mentoring, the understanding of the core competencies). ICF credentialing just meant that I completed this process in greater depth, and with an extra accreditation.
Ruth: I would say go with what feels right for you, because it may not be that important for everyone and it’s perhaps not the right thing for everybody, it depends on what your coaching practice is. I suppose it’s whether it feels right for you or not and the if it is the right time, but if it does feel right I’d absolutely say go for it, because it does give you that next level of professional credibility, but also it’s a great reflective learning experience as well. Because i’ve learned where the gaps are in my knowledge, and now have something to work on. I definitely gained more from it than just a credential.
Alessandro: Go for it. It is only a marginal extra effort if you have a diploma like the Animas Diploma. ICF builds your self confidence as a coach, builds your credibility and gives you access to a tremendous network of people and material that can be extremely helpful.
Alex Kergall is a London-based bilingual High Performance Coach offering services in both English and French. With over 10 years of International Finance experience within the sport industry, he is totally committed to his clients, who are mainly Professional Athletes, Executives and Entrepreneurs. He believes each one has a unique path and a specific purpose and that being conscious of your calling shifts any situation from the inside, bringing more depth, insight and structure.
Marco is a "multipotentialite" with 20 years of international experience in sectors as diverse as Health Tech, Branded Consumer Goods, and Executive Education. He is Inspired by authentic leaders who want to make a difference and give-back. In 2016 he added a new dimension to his lifelong learning journey: Executive Coaching. Certified as General Electric Team Coach, he trained independently as a Transformational Executive Coach, and obtained the ICF ACC accreditation and now coaches fellow GE colleagues and teams, as well as board level executives, mid-career high achievers, and entrepreneurs.
As well as her individual life coaching clients, Ruth works with teams to help them get along with each other better and be happier at work. Along with her mentoring and coaching, Ruth's background is in person-centred health and social care, and she has recently joined forces with a physiotherapist opening a new wellness centre in Hertfordshire.
Throughout his career, Alessandro has developed a strong passion for people, teams and leadership, contributing to his decision to become an accredited ICF coach. He is passionate about helping people make better sense of their lives and achieve their full potential both personally, and professionally. Alessandro also supports struggling businesses who are hungry for a turn-around, as well as young entrepreneurs who need to channel their drive and creativity to achieve maximum impact in the short term with very limited resources.