Acronyms and Definitions in Coaching

Magda Walczak  •  Jun 3, 2020  •  6 min read

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Acronyms and Definitions in Coaching

When I started learning about the coaching industry, I was overwhelmed with acronyms. I remember taking copious notes during my first few conversations with Ram, Coacharya Founder, just so I could keep up and decipher what we actually talked about later. This past week I’ve had a few coaching acronym heavy conversations with coach training program prospects, and I could literally see their faces go blank when I started spewing 3 and 4 letter combinations at them. Maybe there aren’t that many acronyms in coaching – maybe it just feels that way because they’re used so often in conversations I’m having. Either way, I figured I wasn’t the only one out there who needs a cheat sheet to keep up with what’s what.

Below is a list of all the coaching acronyms I could think of as well as definitions of some terms that pop up frequently. I’m sure there are more. I would be grateful if you, the reader, could add comments with other acronyms. I will add them as I discover them so this can be a living document to help us all. Thank you!

QUICK TIP – If you’re looking for something specific, click CTRL+F (command+F on Mac) to find the acronym within the page.

ACC – Associate Certified Coach, the first level of coaching credential offered by ICF. At Coacharya, you need to complete the Coaching Foundation program to qualify for the ACC credential.

ACTP – Accredited Coach Training Program, the top level, “all-inclusive” accreditation standard from ICF for coach training institutes. Coacharya is accredited on this level.

ADKAR – ADKAR Model is an individual change framework. ADKAR is an acronym that represents the five building blocks of successful change for an individual:

  1. Awareness of the need for change
  2. Desire to participate and support in the change
  3. Knowledge of what to do during and after the change
  4. Ability to realize or implement the change as required
  5. Reinforcement to ensure the results of a change continue

AI / Appreciative Inquiry – Appreciative inquiry attempts to use ways of asking questions and envisioning the future in order to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organization or situation.

BCC – Board Certified Coach, a coaching credential from the Center for Credentialing and Education in the US. It’s on the same “level” as EMCC SP or ICF PCC. Fun fact – one of the founders of BCC, Pat Williams, is now a Coacharya Associate Trainer.

CCE – Continuing Coach Education, which credentialed coaches undertake to keep learning and to fulfill requirements for renewing their coaching credentials. At Coacharya, we deliver CCE in single units with webinars as well as in 30 hour masterclass formats.

CCEU – Continuing Coach Education Unit, equivalent to 1 hour of content. RD are Resource Development units, which are educational to coaches, but aren’t focused on coaching competencies. CC are Core Competency units, which center around ICF coaching competencies. Both RD and CC units are required to renew ICF coaching credentials.

Coaching competencies – Set of skills every coach should have. These differ across coaching organizations, but the themes overlap to a large degree (see comparison).

Coaching hours / Client hours / Coaching Log – Hours of coaching that a learner coach must do in order to qualify for a coaching credential. The required hours are different depending on the credential (see comparison). You should keep a log of all your coaching hours (explanation of what counts + a log template can be found here).

EI – Emotional Intelligence

EIA – European Individual Accreditation from EMCC for individual coaches. There are four levels: Foundation, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner and Master Practitioner. You can see a comparison of the levels and requirements here.

EMCC – European Mentoring and Coaching Council, the oldest coach credentialing body. Coacharya is accredited by EMCC. Fun fact: Coacharya recently won the global coaching award from EMCC.

Gestalt – It’s a psychological approach sometimes summarized using the adage, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Gestalt principles of proximity, similarity, figure-ground, continuity, closure, and connection, determine how humans perceive visuals in connection with different objects and environments.

GROW – Stands for Goal, Reality, Options, Will. It’s a framework often used by coaches (details here).

Hero’s journey – The common thread in all human stories. We’re all on a journey and looking at where we are in ours can be quite helpful. Here’s a detailed explanation.

ICF – International Coaching Federation, a global coaching credentialing body with three levels of credentials: ACC, PCC and MCC. Coacharya training programs are accredited for all three levels. You can learn more and compare requirements for each path here.

MCC – Master Certified Coach, the highest credential awarded by ICF.

MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator, an assessment tool, often used when working with teams.

NLP / Neurolinguistic Programming – Neuro (neurology) and Linguistic (language) program (patterns, themes) is about the language of the brain which can help an individual the power to reprogram their thinking.

OD / Organizational Development – In a systemic OD approach to coaching, the self at the individual level is integrated seamlessly with team and organization. Here’s a great webinar we did on OD in coaching.

PCC – Professional Certified Coach is a coaching credential from ICF. It sits between ACC and MCC. At Coacharya, you’d need to complete Coaching Foundation followed by Advanced Coaching to qualify for PCC (learn more).

PP / Positive Psychology – Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. It has three central concerns: positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.

Supervision – Refers to coaching supervision, which is essentially a practice of a coach coaching a coach on coaching.

TA / Transactional Analysis – It’s a psychoanalytic theory and method of therapy wherein social transactions are analyzed to determine the ego state of the communicator (whether parent-like, childlike, or adult-like) as a basis for understanding behavior.


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Magda Walczak


Magda Walczak is CEO of Coacharya and looks after strategy, technology, marketing, and customer experience. She's also the author of Saylor's tale, a children's book.


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