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Credentialing Paths2020-01-05T15:36:13+00:00

Students who complete the Aim Higher 60-hour program meet the training hours necessary to apply for an Associate Coach Credential (ACC) through the International Coach Federation. Aim Higher graduates may apply for an ICF credential after receiving coach-specific training. Graduates are encouraged to become ICF members, after receiving coach-specific training hours.

ICF Credentialing Levels & Requirements

Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credential:

  • 60 hours of coach-specific training100 hours of client coaching experience (75 paid and 25 pro-bono)
  • 10 hours of work with a qualified mentor coach (included with Aim Higher registration)
  • Performance evaluation
  • ICF Application fee: $300 for ICF members ($500 for non-members)

Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Credential:

  • 125 hours of coach-specific training
  • 500 hours of client coaching experience
  • 10 hours of work with a qualified mentor Coach
  • ICF Application fee: $575 for ICF members

Master Certified Coach (MCC) Credential

  • 200 hours of coach-specific training
  • 2500 hours of client coaching experience
  • 10 hours of work with a qualified mentor coach
  • Performance evaluation
  • ICF Application fee: $575

​After completing the Aim Higher program you will be able to define and demonstrate the 11 ICF Core Competencies:

A. 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.
  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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

D. 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.
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Member Benefits Include:

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Cutting-edge industry research
ICF Members enjoy free or discounted access to ICF industry research reports that will help them make savvy business decisions and communicate the power of professional coaching to prospective clients.
Research Portal
ICF’s Research Portal contains articles, case studies, journals and reports about coaching and related topics.
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Local engagement
Every day, coaches around the world connect with ICF on a local level through an ICF Chapter. At the chapter level, ICF Members can network with peers at chapter events, enjoy valuable virtual and face-to-face education offerings, and help their communities flourish through events like International Coaching Week and pro bono coaching initiatives.
Discounted event registration
Members enjoy discounted registration for ICF Global in-person and virtual events, such as ICF Converge, ICF Advance and the Business Development Series. They also benefit from discounted attendance at local and regional ICF conferences and events, which provide opportunities for networking and professional development.
Staff support
From day one, ICF Members benefit from a global network of staff committed to maximizing their ICF experience, enhancing awareness of coaching and ensuring the integrity of the profession. New Member Onboarding Meetings, held virtually, introduce new ICF Members to one another and to the many resources at their disposal. With support in 11 languages, ICF’s Regional Support team around the world can answer day-to-day questions and help members make the most of ICF Global Membership. Staff also monitor potential and pending regulatory actions, providing regional legislative support as needed.
Leadership opportunities
We encourage members to volunteer in ICF’s governance and oversight. Many opportunities exist at the chapter, regional, and global levels for ICF Members and Credential-holders to become involved with ICF, help shape our organization’s future, and give back to the coaching community.
Lifelong Learning & Professional Development2019-12-04T19:59:11+00:00
Discounted credentialing applications
ICF Members enjoy a significant discount on initial and renewal applications for the ICF Credential. As the only globally recognized independent coaching credential, the ICF Credential signifies a coach’s commitment to outstanding professional practice and sets them apart in a crowded marketplace. Industry research conducted by ICF show that coaches with credentials earn more than non-credentialed coaches, while clients of credentialed coaches report higher satisfaction.
Communities of Practice
ICF’s Communities of Practice (CPs)are virtual groups of coaches interested in a specific topic area. CPs provide a platform for ICF Members to advance their professional development by sharing best practices, emerging trends, tools and tips., which generally meet by teleconference monthly, offer a venue to communicate best practices and new ideas with coaches from around the world who share your professional interests. ICF-credentialed CP participants also earn CCE units toward credential renewal.
Continuing coach education
ICF Members can enhance their professional development and earn Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units by participating in select ICF Chapter events and Communities of Practice. (Visit the ICF Event Calendar for an up-to-date listing of upcoming chapter events, regional conferences and virtual education offerings.) Members can also earn CCE units by accessing virtual library housed on the ICF website.
Reciprocal peer coaching
ICF’s Reciprocal Peer Coaching Program is accessible to all ICF Members and enables ICF Members to receive professional coaching from one colleague in exchange for time spent coaching another peer.
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ICF logo and membership certificate
ICF Members can leverage the instant credibility afforded by the ICF Global brand by using the ICF logo on their websites, in email communications and on stationary items. They can also display their membership certificate to let clients know they are ICF members.
ICF partner programs
ICF Media Partners and ICF Business Solutions Partners and ICF Media Partners offer discounts or special pricing to ICF Members on their goods and services. ICF’s Partners offer a wide range of products and services, including insurance, software solutions and magazine subscriptions.
Member toolkit
ICF’s Member Toolkit contains a host of valuable content, including printable marketing collateral, fact sheets, and press release templates and more. Items are regularly updated.
Credentialed Coach Finder directory listings
ICF Members are eligible for inclusion in ICF’s online Member Directory, designed as a tool to find ICF Members and for ICF Members to connect with one another. Members who hold an ICF Credential are also eligible for inclusion in the Credentialed Coach Finder which potential clients may use to find ICF coaches. Members who hold an ICF Credential may also choose to be included in the Mentor Coach Registry.
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