Frequently Asked Questions

The International Coach Federation seeks to Advance the Art, Science and Practice of Professional Coaching.

QWhat year was the International Coach Federation (ICF) formed?

The Association was formed in 1995. Local Chapters formed shortly thereafter and continue to open today. The ICF Australasia Chapter formed.

QWho started the ICF and why?

The late Thomas Leonard, a professional coach, founded the ICF to create a professional coaching community. The organisation was initially geared toward North America but now has members in more than 150 countries.

QWhat types of coaches join the ICF?

ICF Members specialise in a variety of coaching areas, including Executive Coaching, Life Coaching, Leadership Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Career Coaching and other skilled coaching fields.

QDo I have to have an ICF Credential to be a member?

Coaches do not need to hold an ICF Credential to be members, although ICF Credentials are recommended and provide additional benefits.

QWhat is the value of joining ICF?

ICF Members receive a multitude of benefits, starting with access to educational research, networking opportunities, and globally recognised credentialing and accreditation services. All of ICF’s endeavours are focused on coaching — from informing the public on how coaching works to conducting industry research. ICF builds, supports, and preserves the integrity of the coaching profession through standards and programs. Membership is not only an investment into a coach’s future, but also an investment into the future of coaching.

QHow does ICF define coaching?

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

QWho is in charge of ICF?

ICF is a nonprofit membership organisation led by a member-elected Board of Directors that oversees the organisation's affairs. Paid staff members follow the leadership's direction and carry out its day-to-day work.

ICF Australasia is nonprofit organisation incorporated in NSW and registered with ASIC as a registered body.

QIs there proof coaching works?

Yes! The ICF Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness, and more growth and opportunities. The same study found that coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. Nearly 70 percent of individuals indicated they had at least made back their initial investment. The median suggests that a client who achieved financial benefit from coaching can typically expect a ROI of more than three times the amount spent.

According to the same report, the vast majority of companies (86 percent) say they at least made their investment back. In fact, almost one-fifth (19 percent) saw a ROI of 50 times their investment, while another 28 percent saw a ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment. Nearly all companies or individuals who hire a coach are satisfied. According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, a stunning 99 percent of people who were polled said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the overall coaching experience. For more details, go to the ICF Research Portal, as well as press releases about ICF’s return-on-investment research.

QHow is coaching distinct from other service professions?

Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organisational support professions.

  • Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual's emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one's work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow through.
  • Consulting: Individuals or organisations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
  • Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counselling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.
  • Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.
  • Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behaviour of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviours that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

QHow has coaching grown?

ICF, the world’s largest coaching organisation, remains successful in its core purpose: to advance the coaching profession. According to the ICF 2012 Global Coaching Study, approximately 47,500 professional coaches are now in business worldwide (bringing cumulative annual revenue close to $2 billion) as compared to 2,100 professional coaches in 1999.

The same report found that more coaches reported an increase rather than a decrease in fees, hours, clients and revenues over the past 12 months. Overall, trend indicators point to a growing profession, also evidenced by ICF adding 2,000 new members a year.

QWhat is the difference between Accrediting and Credentialing?

At ICF, coaching training programs are Accredited while individuals are Credentialed. ICF’s Accreditation service for Coach training schools defines curriculum standards to ensure consistency in coach training programs and consistency among coaching professionals. ICF Credentials are awarded to professional coaches who have met stringent education and experience requirements, and have demonstrated mastery of the coaching competencies.

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