Professionals in most industries have membership organizations that provide information, continuing education opportunities, networking with colleagues, and more. This is true in coaching too. While there are many groups for coaches, the leading professional membership organization is the International Coaching Federation, the ICF. The ICF approves coach specific training programs including the one offered at the Center for Coaching Certification.
As an industry it is important that we have a cohesive, collaborative focus on professionalism. It seems coaching is moving toward regulation so the question is, will the industry self-regulate or will government regulate it? Either way, what does that mean for coaches and for their clients?
Look at the examples of other professions: mental health faced this years ago, as did financial planning and more recently image consulting. The ICF is at the forefront for self-regulation and if the industry does become regulated by government the ICF is going to be a key resource. Based on what has occurred in other professions, membership in the ICF to support one strong voice makes sense.
By working together as professionals, we benefit the industry and the people we serve. Defining coaching, having a Code of Ethics, standards for training, and publishing the Core Competencies provides a process and guide for coaches while educating the people we serve in a way that is easy to understand and supports effective coaching. Membership in the ICF is a step forward as a profession and industry.