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About ICF

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.

As the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches, ICF confers instant credibility upon its members. ICF is also committed to connecting member coaches with the tools and resources they need to succeed in their careers.

ICF offers the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program for coach practitioners. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements and have demonstrated a thorough understanding of the coaching competencies that set the standard in the profession. Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills, and dedication to clients.

ICF also accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.

Today, ICF is specifically recognized among coaching professionals worldwide for:

  • Developing coaching core competencies
  • Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards
  • Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program
  • Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach-specific training programs
  • Providing continuous education through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs) and archived learning.

Vision Statement

Coaching is an integral part of a thriving society and every ICF Member represents the highest quality of professional coaching.

Mission

ICF exists to lead the global advancement of the coaching profession.

Core Values

We are committed to reliability, openness, acceptance and congruence and consider all parts of the ICF community mutually accountable to uphold the following values:

  1. Integrity: We uphold the highest standards both for the coaching profession and our organization.
  2. Excellence: We set and demonstrate standards of excellence for professional coaching quality, qualification and competence.
  3. Collaboration: We value the social connection and community building that occurs through collaborative partnership and co-created achievement.
  4. Respect: We are inclusive and value the diversity and richness of our global stakeholders. We put people first, without compromising standards, policies and quality.

ICF Definition of Coaching

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

Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA)

ICF is delighted to be part of the GCMA (Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance), formed in November 2012, to work alongside other global coaching and mentoring bodies to provide a shared view of the practice of professional coaching.

GCMA FAQs

  • Could you define credentialed/accredited?

    Credentials/accreditations are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements, and have demonstrated a thorough understanding and practice of the coaching competencies that set the standard in the industry. Achieving credentials/accreditation signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, an understanding and practice of coaching skills and a dedication to clients.

  • How does a coach who is a member of just one organization become informed or involved in the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA)?

    The GCMA is not set up as an entity that collects fees, nor is it a membership body that coaches, mentors, organizations or institutions can “join.” But rather, it is an alliance of global, professional coaching and mentoring bodies, currently made up of the Association for Coaching (AC), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), and the ICF.

    To illustrate, think of what the airlines’ alliances do (e.g., Star Alliance). You may join as a member any of the specific airline (e.g. United, Thai, Lufthansa), and by those airlines being a part of the alliance, then this gives greater benefits to their respective members and having a greater joined up approach.

  • How does the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA) define coaching? Is there an agreed, collective view across the three professional bodies?

    The three members of the Alliance are signatories to the Professional Charter for Coaching and Mentoring which has been accepted on the European Union’s dedicated website for self-regulated professions.

    The Professional Charter gives the following high-level description of coaching and mentoring, stressing that this is not intended as a definitive statement:

    “Coaching and mentoring are activities within the area of professional and personal development with focus on individuals and teams and relying on the client’s own resources to help them to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision making and enhancement of quality of life. Thus, a professional coach/mentor can be described as an expert in establishing a relationship with people in a series of conversations with the purpose of serving the clients to improve their performance or enhance their personal development or both, choosing their own goals and ways of doing it.”

    Definitions of coaching are also available on each of our respective websites.

  • How will the GCMA ensure it takes a global perspective?

    At this stage, the GCMA is listening to these diverse views and needs, and establishing what it makes sense to best do, together, for the benefit of the industry as a whole. Some of the current areas of discussion include running joint global research initiatives, as well as investigating each of the respective professional body’s accreditation and credentialing systems, etc.

    We have already agreed joint values that underpin our professional bodies’ cooperation, such as courage, collaboration, integrity, respect and trust.

  • How will the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA) behave, and work together?

    When the GCMA formed, it agreed to the following Guiding Principles:

    To use a coach approach in its interactions

    Honor and welcome all perspectives

    Always consider what is in the interest of the profession first

    Be member and market driven in our thinking and progressive in our actions

    Engage in dialogue before decision

    Synthesize, clarify and communicate

    Remember the GCMA is an alliance of professional bodies, not a body in itself

  • Is the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA) reaching out to other bodies as well?

    The intention, over time, is to invite other global professional coaching bodies to be a part of the GCMA as we do recognize the importance of having other representatives, and different viewpoints. This would be looked at, after a bedding-in phase with the three organizations involved, and clear criteria will be set around how this can occur to best support the aims and scope of the GCMA.

  • What are the human resources (HR) buyers’ views of the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA)?

    As the GCMA is newly formed, it has not gone out to market to get a formal pulse on how it is being perceived, nor what the HR buyers’ hopes or expectations are from it. However from the initial discussions so far, based on input from the three bodies, the feedback has been very positive that such an alliance has been born.

  • What is the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA)?

    The purpose of Global Coaching Mentoring Alliance (GCMA) is to professionalize the industry in the field of coaching and mentoring and express a shared view of the practice of professional coaching.
    The core objectives are:

    To be the collective voice of professional bodies that clarifies, educates and strengthens awareness about our common ground for effective practice
    To facilitate exchange and distribute information for all industry stakeholders about shared good practice
    To focus attention on the wider impact of coaching and mentoring on society

  • What is the value of credentialing/accreditation?

    We believe that obtaining a credential/accreditation is an investment that demonstrates and distinguishes professional practice. It is similar to gaining a degree or a professional designation and differentiates a credentialed/accredited coach from anybody who may call themselves a coach. The value of such a designation therefore is quite significant.

  • What’s the role of mentoring in this organization, beyond coaching?

    The formation of the GCMA was in direct response to our membership asking for clarification about the confusion being created in the mentoring and coaching industry relating to professional practice. EMCC is keen therefore to represent its total membership where both mentors and coaches work within a framework of generic professional standards. See also the Professional Charter for Mentoring and Coaching.

  • Why was the Global Coaching and Mentoring Alliance (GCMA) established?

    The thinking behind the GCMA is that having some of the leading professional coaching and mentoring bodies, working together in a more collaborative way, will help in professionalizing coaching even further as the industry continues to grow and evolve on a global scale. There was also a “pull” from some coaches and buyers, indicating that the major coaching bodies needed to align and work more closely together in order to bring further clarity and understanding to what we do and what is considered as good practice.

  • Will the GCMA become one “super body?”

    As mentioned, the GCMA is not a professional body, nor does it have a desire to be set up as an organization in its own right. It serves as an alliance made up of professional bodies. There are no plans to merge and become one, but we do continue to strive to find ways to work together that best serve the emerging profession of coaching and mentoring.

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