The International Coach Federation (ICF) (www.coachfederation.org/ICF) is a worldwide resource for business and personal coaches, as well as a source for those who are seeking a coach. "ICF was founded in 1995 and at that time it was just a group of coaches that came together who shared the same kind of philosophies and wanted to create a professional organization," notes Ann Belcher, marketing manager at ICF. Now, the nonprofit organization formed by individuals worldwide who practice business and personal coaching has more than 14,000 members in nearly 90 countries and 160 chapters in nearly 50 countries.
To become a member of the organization, an individual must attend a third-party coach training school (ICF does host its own coaching program). "Once a person gets their training, they can apply for our credential," Belcher says. The International Coach Federation offers coach training approval, by which coach training programs submit to review to demonstrate their commitment to the standards for curricula, the ICF Core Competencies, faculty, structure, proficiency, and the ICF Code of Ethics. The ICF's Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) Accreditation and Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) programs are geared toward students who are at the beginning of their coach training; both are advantageous to students seeking an ICF credential. Continuing Coaching Education (CCE) programs are mainly for already credentialed coaches. All approved programs are listed in the ICF's Training Program Search Service. Members are required to do ongoing professional development in order to renew the credential every three years. There is an annual fee of $195 as well.
Belcher does stress, however, that coaches can become a member of the ICF without having the credential or while they are earning it. However, the Web site's free coach referral service for consumers only lists ICF members with the ICF credential. "We have a twofold purpose," says Belcher, "to be a professional organization for coaches, but also to educate the public on selecting a coach. That's why our site includes tools like tips for interviewing coaches. It is also why we have our coach referral service."