International Coach Federation (ICF)

The International Coach Federation (ICF) seeks to advance the art, science and practice of professional coaching. It is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches.

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.

Coacharya is accredited by ICF to deliver coach training towards the ACC, PCC and MCC credentials.

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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.

ICF Coach Credentials

There are three levels of coaching credentials awarded by ICF. Coacharya’s coach training programs are accredited to prepare learners for all three.

 Associate Certified Coach (ACC)Professional Certified Coach (PCC)Master Certified Coach (MCC)
Classroom training hours required60125200
Coaching experience required100+ hours following the start of training500+ hours following the start of training2,500+ hours following the start of training
Other requirementsYou must hold a PCC credential before pursuing your MCC
Coacharya training programCoaching Foundation ICoaching Foundation I & IIMastery

Please expand the sections below to learn more about specific ICF credentials.

Please note that fees listed are ICF fees. Training program fees are additional. Please contact us if you’re interested in ICF-accredited coach training program with Coacharya.

ACC - Paths to Credentials

If you use non-accredited training or Continuing Coach Education (CCE) as the start of your coach-specific training, you will need to apply via the portfolio path. You can only use a CCE program that has a minimum of 30 hours and is at least 80 percent core competency. If the non-accredited training you submit is not accepted as coach-specific training, you will need to complete additional client coaching hours. These additional hours of coaching experience must begin after the start of your coach specific training.

ACC ACTP Path

ACC ACSTH Path

ACC Portfolio Path

Completion of an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). At least 60 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program.

At least 60 hours of coach-specific training with robust documentation.

Coaching log demonstrating 100 hours (75 paid) of coaching experience with at least 8 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 25 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

10 hours of Mentor Coaching to be documented on your online application.

10 hours of Mentor Coaching to be documented on your online application.

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). Coaching log demonstrating 100 hours (75 paid) of coaching experience with at least 8 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 25 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

Coaching log demonstrating 100 hours (75 paid) of coaching experience with at least 8 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 25 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Performance evaluation (audio recording and written transcript of coaching session to be uploaded with your application).

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

ICF Members: $100 USD
Non-members: $300 USD
ICF Members: $300 USD
Non-members: $500 USD

ICF Members: $400 USD
Non-members: $600 USD

Estimated Timeline for Review: 4 weeks Estimated Timeline for Review4 Weeks Estimated Timeline for Review: 14 weeks

PCC - Paths to Credentials

PCC ACTP Path

PCC ACSTH Path

PCC Portfolio Path

Completion of an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). At least 125 hours of coach-specific training through an ACTP or ACSTH program.

At least 125 hours of coach-specific training with robust documentation.

Coaching log demonstrating 500 hours (450 paid) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 50 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

10 hours of Mentor Coaching to be documented on your online application.

10 hours of Mentor Coaching to be documented on your online application.

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). Coaching log demonstrating 500 hours (450 paid) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 50 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

Coaching log demonstrating 500 hours (450 paid) of coaching experience with at least 25 clients following the start of your coach-specific training. At least 50 of these hours must occur within 18 months of submitting your credential application.

Performance evaluation (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions to be uploaded with your application).

Performance evaluation (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions to be uploaded with your application).

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

ICF Members: $300 USD
Non-members: $500 USD
ICF Members: $575 USD
Non-members: $775 USD

ICF Members: $675 USD
Non-members: $875 USD

Estimated Timeline for Review: 4 weeks Estimated Timeline for Review: 14 Weeks Estimated Timeline for Review: 18 weeks

MCC - Path to Credentials

Master Certified Coach (MCC) Application Requirements

200 hours of coach-specific training.
10 hours of Mentor Coaching.
Coaching log demonstrating 2,500 hours (2,250 paid) of coaching experience with at least 35 clients.
Performance evaluation (two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions).
Complete the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) unless previously passed when applying for ACC or PCC.
ICF Members: $575 USD
Non-members: $775 USD
Estimated Timeline for Review: 18 weeks

ACTP - Train as a Coach

Coacharya's ICF-Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) helps you prepare for ACC, PCC and MCC credentials.

 ICF Core Competencies

The following eleven core coaching competencies were developed to support greater understanding about the skills and approaches used within today’s coaching profession as defined by the International Coach Federation. They will also support you in calibrating the level of alignment between the coach-specific training expected and the training you have experienced. All competencies are covered in the Coach Knowledge Assessment, which all coaches must pass in order to get credentialed.

A. Setting the Foundation 
1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards
2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement

B. Co-creating the Relationship
3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client
4. Coaching Presence

C. Communicating Effectively 
5. Active Listening
6. Powerful Questioning
7. Direct Communication

D. Facilitating Learning and Results 
8. Creating Awareness
9. Designing Actions
10. Planning and Goal Setting
11. Managing Progress and Accountability

The coaching competencies are outlined in more detail below.

Setting the Foundation

1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards—Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all coaching situations.

  1. Understands and exhibits in own behaviors the ICF Code of Ethics (see Code, Part III of ICF Code of Ethics).
  2. Understands and follows all ICF Ethical Guidelines (see list).
  3. Clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions.
  4. Refers client to another support professional as needed, knowing when this is needed and the available resources.

2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement—Ability to understand what is required in the specific coaching interaction and to come to agreement with the prospective and new client about the coaching process and relationship.

  1. Understands and effectively discusses with the client the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship (e.g., logistics, fees, scheduling, inclusion of others if appropriate).
  2. Reaches agreement about what is appropriate in the relationship and what is not, what is and is not being offered, and about the client’s and coach’s responsibilities.
  3. Determines whether there is an effective match between his/her coaching method and the needs of the prospective client.

Co-Creating the Relationship

3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client—Ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust.

  1. Shows genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future.
  2. Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
  3. Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises.
  4. Demonstrates respect for client’s perceptions, learning style, personal being.
  5. Provides ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure.
  6. Asks permission to coach client in sensitive, new areas.

4. Coaching Presence—Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.

  1. Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
  2. Accesses own intuition and trusts one’s inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
  3. Is open to not knowing and takes risks.
  4. Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective.
  5. Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy.
  6. Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action.
  7. Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.

Communicating Effectively

5. Active Listening—Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.

  1. Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
  2. Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
  3. Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
  4. Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
  5. Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
  6. Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  7. “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
  8. Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps.

6. Powerful Questioning—Ability to ask questions that reveal the information needed for maximum benefit to the coaching relationship and the client.

  1. Asks questions that reflect active listening and an understanding of the client’s perspective.
  2. Asks questions that evoke discovery, insight, commitment or action (e.g., those that challenge the client’s assumptions).
  3. Asks open-ended questions that create greater clarity, possibility or new learning.
  4. Asks questions that move the client toward what they desire, not questions that ask for the client to justify or look backward.

7. Direct Communication—Ability to communicate effectively during coaching sessions, and to use language that has the greatest positive impact on the client.

  1. Is clear, articulate and direct in sharing and providing feedback.
  2. Reframes and articulates to help the client understand from another perspective what he/she wants or is uncertain about.
  3. Clearly states coaching objectives, meeting agenda, and purpose of techniques or exercises.
  4. Uses language appropriate and respectful to the client (e.g., non-sexist, non-racist, non-technical, non-jargon).
  5. Uses metaphor and analogy to help to illustrate a point or paint a verbal picture.

Facilitating Learning and Results

8. Creating Awareness—Ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.

  1. Goes beyond what is said in assessing client’s concerns, not getting hooked by the client’s description.
  2. Invokes inquiry for greater understanding, awareness, and clarity.
  3. Identifies for the client his/her underlying concerns; typical and fixed ways of perceiving himself/herself and the world; differences between the facts and the interpretation; and disparities between thoughts, feelings, and action.
  4. Helps clients to discover for themselves the new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, moods, etc. that strengthen their ability to take action and achieve what is important to them.
  5. Communicates broader perspectives to clients and inspires commitment to shift their viewpoints and find new possibilities for action.
  6. Helps clients to see the different, interrelated factors that affect them and their behaviors (e.g., thoughts, emotions, body, and background).
  7. Expresses insights to clients in ways that are useful and meaningful for the client.
  8. Identifies major strengths vs. major areas for learning and growth, and what is most important to address during coaching.
  9. Asks the client to distinguish between trivial and significant issues, situational vs. recurring behaviors, when detecting a separation between what is being stated and what is being done.

9. Designing Actions—Ability to create with the client opportunities for ongoing learning, during coaching and in work/life situations, and for taking new actions that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results.

  1. Brainstorms and assists the client to define actions that will enable the client to demonstrate, practice, and deepen new learning.
  2. Helps the client to focus on and systematically explore specific concerns and opportunities that are central to agreed-upon coaching goals.
  3. Engages the client to explore alternative ideas and solutions, to evaluate options, and to make related decisions.
  4. Promotes active experimentation and self-discovery, where the client applies what has been discussed and learned during sessions immediately afterward in his/her work or life setting.
  5. Celebrates client successes and capabilities for future growth.
  6. Challenges client’s assumptions and perspectives to provoke new ideas and find new possibilities for action.
  7. Advocates or brings forward points of view that are aligned with client goals and, without attachment, engages the client to consider them.
  8. Helps the client “Do It Now” during the coaching session, providing immediate support.
  9. Encourages stretches and challenges but also a comfortable pace of learning.

10. Planning and Goal Setting—Ability to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the client.

  1. Consolidates collected information and establishes a coaching plan and development goals with the client that address concerns and major areas for learning and development.
  2. Creates a plan with results that are attainable, measurable, specific, and have target dates.
  3. Makes plan adjustments as warranted by the coaching process and by changes in the situation.
  4. Helps the client identify and access different resources for learning (e.g., books, other professionals).
  5. Identifies and targets early successes that are important to the client.

11. Managing Progress and Accountability—Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action.

  1. Clearly requests of the client actions that will move the client toward his/her stated goals.
  2. Demonstrates follow-through by asking the client about those actions that the client committed to during the previous session(s).
  3. Acknowledges the client for what they have done, not done, learned or become aware of since the previous coaching session(s).
  4. Effectively prepares, organizes, and reviews with client information obtained during sessions.
  5. Keeps the client on track between sessions by holding attention on the coaching plan and outcomes, agreed-upon courses of action, and topics for future session(s).
  6. Focuses on the coaching plan but is also open to adjusting behaviors and actions based on the coaching process and shifts in direction during sessions.
  7. Is able to move back and forth between the big picture of where the client is heading, setting a context for what is being discussed and where the client wishes to go.
  8. Promotes client’s self-discipline and holds the client accountable for what they say they are going to do, for the results of an intended action, or for a specific plan with related time frames.
  9. Develops the client’s ability to make decisions, address key concerns, and develop himself/herself (to get feedback, to determine priorities and set the pace of learning, to reflect on and learn from experiences).
  10. Positively confronts the client with the fact that he/she did not take agreed-upon actions.

Start Your ICF Coach Training

Coacharya is accredited by ICF to deliver ACC, PCC and MCC level training programs. New cohorts start each quarter. Programs are held virtually, online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world.

ICF Code of Ethics

In line with the International Coach Federation core values and ICF definition of coaching, the Code of Ethics is designed to provide appropriate guidelines, accountability and enforceable standards of conduct for all ICF Members and ICF Credential-holders, who commit to abiding by the following ICF Code of Ethics:

Definitions

  • Coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
  • ICF Coach: An ICF coach agrees to practice the ICF Core Competencies and pledges accountability to the ICF Code of Ethics.
  • Professional Coaching Relationship: A professional coaching relationship exists when coaching includes an agreement (including contracts) that defines the responsibilities of each party.
  • Roles in the Coaching Relationship: In order to clarify roles in the coaching relationship it is often necessary to distinguish between the client and the sponsor. In most cases, the client and sponsor are the same person and are therefore jointly referred to as the client. For purposes of identification, however, the ICF defines these roles as follows:
  • Client: The “Client/Coachee” is the person(s) being coached.
  • Sponsor: The “sponsor” is the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging for coaching services to be provided. In all cases, coaching engagement agreements should clearly establish the rights, roles and responsibilities for both the client and sponsor if the client and sponsor are different people.
  • Student: The “student” is someone enrolled in a coach training program or working with a coaching supervisor or coach mentor in order to learn the coaching process or enhance and develop their coaching skills.
  • Conflict of Interest: A situation in which a coach has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective of his or her official duties as a coach and a professional.

Professional conduct at large

As a coach, I:

1) Conduct myself in accordance with the ICF Code of Ethics in all interactions, including coach training, coach mentoring and coach supervisory activities.

2) Commit to take the appropriate action with the coach, trainer, or coach mentor and/or will contact ICF to address any ethics violation or possible breach as soon as I become aware, whether it involves me or others.

3) Communicate and create awareness in others, including organizations, employees, sponsors, coaches and others, who might need to be informed of the responsibilities established by this Code.

4) Refrain from unlawful discrimination in occupational activities, including age, race, gender orientation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or disability.

5) Make verbal and written statements that are true and accurate about what I offer as a coach, the coaching profession or ICF.

6) Accurately identify my coaching qualifications, expertise, experience, training, certifications and ICF Credentials.

7) Recognize and honor the efforts and contributions of others and only claim ownership of my own material. I understand that violating this standard may leave me subject to legal remedy by a third party.

8) Strive at all times to recognize my personal issues that may impair, conflict with or interfere with my coaching performance or my professional coaching relationships. I will promptly seek the relevant professional assistance and determine the action to be taken, including whether it is appropriate to suspend or terminate my coaching relationship(s) whenever the facts and circumstances necessitate.

9) Recognize that the Code of Ethics applies to my relationship with coaching clients, coachees, students, mentees and supervisees.

10) Conduct and report research with competence, honesty and within recognized scientific standards and applicable subject guidelines. My research will be carried out with the necessary consent and approval of those involved, and with an approach that will protect participants from any potential harm. All research efforts will be performed in a manner that complies with all the applicable laws of the country in which the research is conducted.

11) Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my coaching engagements in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.

12) Use ICF Member contact information (email addresses, telephone numbers, and so on) only in the manner and to the extent authorized by the ICF.

Conflicts of interest

13) Seek to be conscious of any conflict or potential conflict of interest, openly disclose any such conflict and offer to remove myself when a conflict arises.

14) Clarify roles for internal coaches, set boundaries and review with stakeholders conflicts of interest that may emerge between coaching and other role functions.

15) Disclose to my client and the sponsor(s) all anticipated compensation from third parties that I may receive for referrals of clients or pay to receive clients.

16) Honor an equitable coach/client relationship, regardless of the form of compensation.

Professional conduct with clients

17) Ethically speak what I know to be true to clients, prospective clients or sponsors about the potential value of the coaching process or of me as a coach.

18) Carefully explain and strive to ensure that, prior to or at the initial meeting, my coaching client and sponsor(s) understand the nature of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.

19) Have a clear coaching service agreement with my clients and sponsor(s) before beginning the coaching relationship and honor this agreement. The agreement shall include the roles, responsibilities and rights of all parties involved.

20) Hold responsibility for being aware of and setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern interactions, physical or otherwise, I may have with my clients or sponsor(s).

21) Avoid any sexual or romantic relationship with current clients or sponsor(s) or students, mentees or supervisees. Further, I will be alert to the possibility of any potential sexual intimacy among the parties including my support staff and/or assistants and will take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the engagement in order to provide a safe environment overall.

22) Respect the client’s right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point during the process, subject to the provisions of the agreement. I shall remain alert to indications that there is a shift in the value received from the coaching relationship.

23) Encourage the client or sponsor to make a change if I believe the client or sponsor would be better served by another coach or by another resource and suggest my client seek the services of other professionals when deemed necessary or appropriate.

Confidentiality / Privacy

As a coach, I:

24) Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all client and sponsor information unless release is required by law.

25) Have a clear agreement about how coaching information will be exchanged among coach, client and sponsor.

26) Have a clear agreement when acting as a coach, coach mentor, coaching supervisor or trainer, with both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee about the conditions under which confidentiality may not be maintained (e.g., illegal activity, pursuant to valid court order or subpoena; imminent or likely risk of danger to self or to others; etc) and make sure both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee voluntarily and knowingly agree in writing to that limit of confidentiality. Where I reasonably believe that because one of the above circumstances is applicable, I may need to inform appropriate authorities.

27) Require all those who work with me in support of my clients to adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics, Number 26, Section 4, Confidentiality and Privacy Standards, and any other sections of the Code of Ethics that might be applicable.

Continuing development

28) Commit to the need for continued and ongoing development of my professional skills.

The ICF Pledge of Ethics

As an ICF coach, I acknowledge and agree to honor my ethical and legal obligations to my coaching clients and sponsors, colleagues, and to the public at large. I pledge to comply with the ICF Code of Ethics and to practice these standards with those whom I coach, teach, mentor or supervise.

If I breach this Pledge of Ethics or any part of the ICF Code of Ethics, I agree that the ICF in its sole discretion may hold me accountable for so doing. I further agree that my accountability to the ICF for any breach may include sanctions, such as loss of my ICF Membership and/or my ICF Credentials.

For more information on the Ethical Conduct Review Process including links to file a complaint, please click here.

Adopted by the ICF Global Board of Directors June 2015.

Please note: All the information on this page comes directly from International Coach Federation’s website. Please visit ICF for further details, or contact Coacharya to enroll in our ICF-accredited coach training program.