Center for Coaching Certification

What if someone with no training identifies themselves as a professional coach?

Start by assuming positive intent.  Then invite them to explore ICF’s website and to research the profession.  Discuss the Core Competencies and the Code of Ethics.

Be aware of the reality is that an untrained coach can cause harm by inadvertently moving into unethical spaces including therapy because they do not know what they do not know.  Surveys in the profession consistently tell us that untrained or under-trained coaches are seen as the number one threat to the profession. What if someone with no training identifies themselves as a professional coach?

Consider what happens when someone who is untrained identifies themselves as a professional coach with these questions:

  • What is the impact on clients of untrained coaches?
  • What is the probability that an untrained coach is serving as an advisor, mentor, guru, or consultant?
  • If we simply accept anyone and everyone calling themselves a coach, what is the impact on the profession as a whole?
  • If a professional in a different field was asked whether they think their training and ethics make a difference, what is their response?
  • If someone called themselves a professional accountant, masseuse, personal trainer, or a nutrition expert without training or accountability to ethics, what is the reaction?
  • Who is willing to knowingly hire an attorney, therapist, financial planner, or other professional when they have no training or ethics?

The ICF Code of Ethics tells us in number 22: “Communicate and create awareness with those who need to be informed of the ethical responsibilities established by this Code.”

As will all professions, becoming a coach is a journey that includes training in the competencies and ethics plus gaining experience.  If someone chooses not to complete coach training, then it is best they identify themselves accurately – whether as a consultant, a mentor, or other service provider.


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