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Certified Master Coach Course - Introductory Notes on ICF and How to select a Coach Training Course 
  Selecting a Executive Coaching Course
   -The need for professional coaches to be trained in the use of validated Behavioral Change Methodology ©
 The ICF Question and the best rated coaching course -extracts from 'Behavioral Coaching' -published by McGraw-Hill, New York
The ICF Question

To date, there is no association that has been accredited by any government body and certainly none that is truly representative of full-time, professional, practicing coaches in the workplace. The reality is that some of the larger "international" coaching associations were privately founded by commercial training companies for the purpose of externally ‘legitimizing’ their training courses. These types of associations typically have a private business agenda that concentrates on adding large numbers of members to their database for commercial purposes. 

Currently, there are scores of commercial coach training providers in the world each with their own private business agenda. For example, the International Coaching Federation ( ICF ) was founded in the mid 1990's by Coach U (a US based, online course provider) for the purpose of certifying their life coaching courses. Today, anyone interested in hiring a coach must be cautious. Certification, as a "personal coach" (especially via a cookie-cutter e-learning course) does not qualify someone to be the best selection as a business / executive coach. With this assembly-online production of "coaches" and professional re-branding by many consultants/trainers etc, how can a prospective, ethical profesional people developer sure of selecting the right course for them or an employer or private client be sure that they are hiring someone who really knows what they are doing?

Coaching Accreditation and Certification
-Some important issues concerning the ICF:

1. There are many reputable and worthwhile coach training organizations that neither provide credentials nor orient their curriculum to the ICF...At the present time several coaching associations compete to gain additional members...Consequently, coaching associations open their membership to anyone who is willing to join. While this inclusiveness helps these associations gain the revenue they need to operate, and all the associations typically require that members agree to a code of ethics or code of conduct, few of these associations appears to provide any system to review or, if necessary, discipline the ethical practices of its members.

2. " The practice of a coaching association both certifying coaches and accrediting coaching schools must end. The International Coach Federation, for example, is violating an accepted professional standard with regards to the same organization both certifying individuals and accrediting the schools from which those individuals have gained their training. A report, Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs, prepared by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies states that "the certification agency must not also be responsible for accreditation of educational or training programs or courses of study leading to the certification."
" Accrediting coaching schools must be conducted at an arms-length, independent distance in order to ensure credibility of these decisions.. The recent decision of the International Coach Federation to only include ICF accredited schools (or those schools that have paid the ICF to consider them for accreditation) on their list of approved coach training organizations did little to reduce cynicism about the ICF's purpose, and, in fact, increased their conflict of interest." -'A Guide to Coach Credentials' Paper by Dr R Carr

3."Our research has identified two important internal weaknesses: a) Individuals with no intention of becoming properly trained are joining the ICF and calling themselves ICF coaches, thus adversely affecting the integrity of both our profession and our professional association. b) Many ICF coaches are themselves confused about the educational and credentialing standards." Steve Mitten, ICF President, Coaching World Newsletter

4."Coaches do not have to be credentialed to join ICF." -Change in ICF Member Categories, Coaching World Newsletter  

5. What ICF coaches earn: Almost 4 in 10 earn less than $10k. Over 50% said it took them up to 2 years of marketing to get their first paid coaching client. Fifty percent said that they are only working with one to six clients per month. -ICF published membership survey.

How to select a business and executive coach training school:

Selecting a business coaching school is an important decision. This is where you will obtain most of your professional skills and competencies. Your choice has an impact on the personal and professional success you will enjoy as a coach, the clients that will be attracted to you, who your peers are and the long-standing impact your work will have on the people you coach. 

First, consider the basic facts when selecting a school. The location of the course, the cost/value, the time factor and the level of the course offered -are the most commonly cited considerations by most potential participants. What many students may not be able to ascertain, is that even though different schools may appear to offer similar programs, the courseware designers and faculty team (the critical key for any successful course) will all have very different backgrounds, agendas and goals for their students. 

To make the most of your professional development, and of your future beyond, it is worth the time to learn more about the facilitators and their teaching experience in business coaching, their fields of expertise, their adult education qualifications, their psychological qualifications, their business and coaching experience and what sort of expectations the school holds for their graduates.   

Some other questions may include: 

  • Does the program emphasize theory or practice -and is it proven? 
  • What is its teaching methodology? How adequately does this methodology produce the intended outcomes?
  •  How is the training organized? 
    • Is this an open class? What are the qualifications for entry? Who are past graduates? Where do they come from?
    • How long has the course been running for and how many graduates have completed the course?
    • Who designed the course -and what are their qualifications and industry standing?
    • How well does the course match your preferred learning style?
    • Are there opportunities to role play, One-to-One with the mentors?
    • What opportunities are there to practice coaching, receive feedback, and reflect on what you have learned?
    • Does the certification have industry acceptance? How valued is the certification?
    • What forms of post-course support do you receive? 
    • What options of further development beyond the course are available?
  • How do you know that the course's coaching tools and techniques presented are validated, reliable and scientifically and industry proven?
  • What is the course's coaching methodology? How adequately does this methodology produce the intended outcomes in the "real-world" of business coaching?
  • How does it achieve behavioral change and sustainable, measurable learning? Which aspects of personal change and professional development does it not include?
  • How well does it balance professional practice and theory?
  • Does the course include coaching forms, contracts and other procedural material?
  • How adaptable is the coaching approach to different types of organizations (Fortune 1000 to Small Business)?  
  • Where do your graduates work?
  • Do graduates go into the specialist areas of practice you are interested in?

Passionate amateurs, empowered by technology driven training, first joined together and formed 'Pro-Ams' coaching associations/groups. Today, these groups are driven bottom-up by the great number of amateurs certified as "coaches". 

Pro-Ams typically challenge the trend for the professionalization of coaching by trying to blur the distinctions between amateurs and professionals and 'bottom-downing' Membership training standards/Standards of professional practice and any ongoing Professional development of members. Some professionals find this pattern so unsettling that they seek to infiltrate and try to change the coaching associations’/groups’ culture and standards. Unfortunately, through weight of numbers their voice are lost. Most professional coaches today simply do not require membership of any so-called, mislabelled "professional association" and actually seek to distance themselves from that end of the marketplace

A business coaching course must provide validated behavioral-based coaching change models, tools and techniques:
Many so-called "certified coaches" churned out by the "coaching associations" are simply doing more harm than good. Meantime, many large, high-profile coach training schools are still teaching simplistic models of coaching that employ re-labelled, old performance counselling strategies or, in some cases, scientifically unproven fuzzy techniques. While such "coaches" may initially get their foot in the door of a needy client, their ineptness, poor training and poor grasp of leading-edge coaching technology is quickly found out.

The accumulated knowledge of many of the coach training courses is outdated, subjective, biased, unstructured, and mostly lacking in accountability. Some of these courses also include pseudo-scientific coaching. Pseudo-scientists (versus qualified behavioral scientists) attempt to give the impression of scientific knowledge but invariably their knowledge is incomplete resulting in false/erroneous postulations.

Any practicing business coach today who has failed to formally undertake appropriate coach training with a recognized licensed provider in the instruction and use of behavioral coaching techniques that have a psychological foundation, can inflict real confusion, pain or suffering on a client (individual and/or organization). The damage incurred can be both legally and financially disastrous for both the coach and the client. In recent years there have been a growing number of legal actions brought against ill-trained "coaches".

Any professional business coaching course must be 'evidence-based:
'Evidence based' is a scientific approach whereby professional practice is capable of being justified in terms of sound evidence based upon a process of methodical clinical and industry research, evaluation, and the utilisation of up-to-date systematic research findings to support decisions about practice. Evidence-based coaching is a way of distinguishing professional practice grounded in proven science versus the simplistic, unproven coaching approach popularized by the many coaching associations and coach training providers engaged in mass-marketing to a primarily uneducated marketplace. 

Evidence based coaching with industry best practice invalidates previously accepted approaches and replaces them with new ones that are more powerful, more accurate, more efficacious, and safer. Evidence based coaching also allows the practitioner to provide his/her client more effective and accurate assessment, more informed program planning and selection of the appropriate coaching technology.

Only evidence-based, validated, behavioral scientific models, accelerated behavioral change tools and techniques are used in the Behavioral Coaching Institute's fast-tracked Course (Self-Study, Campus and Distance Learning Format). The course meets the critical needs for an organization's key people engaged in managing change efforts, as well as internal or external "coaches", consultants and change-agents, to be certified, trained and mentored in the use of psychologically validated, reliable change models, tools and practices. Read More >....


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