Practical Tips for Getting Your ICF ACC Credential
We receive many questions about coach certification and the process of obtaining an ICF credential. And really, the number of questions we receive is no surprise. With multiple application paths as well as different and changing requirements, the process can be confusing. Applying for your ICF credential is a big step and you don’t want to miss anything that could delay or jeopardize receiving your credential. That is why I am writing this article. To provide useful tips to those who are currently or will soon be pursuing the ICF ACC credential. Read on to learn more about;
- Clarifying the requirements
- Details on meeting the 100 coaching hours requirement
- Details on meeting the 10 mentor coaching hours requirement
- Documentation required for your application
- Application process including specifics on the ACSTH path and Portfolio path for the ICF ACC
A REVIEW OF THE ICF ACC REQUIREMENTS (ACSTH PATH)
A good place to start is with a review of the ICF ACC requirements. Make sure you are clear about what is required BEFORE you submit your ACC application. I’ll focus on the ACSTH Path first and then comment on the Portfolio path and ACTP path.
Note: If you are reading this and you are new to the idea of coach certification or if you are trying to decide which ICF credential is right for you, I suggest you read our Guide to Coach Certification first.
Okay, now back to the requirements. Following are the ICF requirements for the ACC (ACSTH path) credential.
- Training: At least 60 hours of coach specific accredited training
- Coaching Hours: Completion and documentation of 100 hours of coaching
- 75 hours must be paid coaching hours (can be at any rate or even barter)
- 25 hours can be pro bono
- The 100 hours must be with at least 8 different clients
- The 100 hours must occur AFTER starting your coach specific training
- At least 25 hours (paid or unpaid) of the 100 hours must occur WITHIN 18 months of submitting your application to the ICF
- Verification of Coaching Experience: ICF now requires applicants for an ICF credential to complete an attestation of their coaching experience. This replaces the submission of a coaching log and is intended to help protect the privacy of coaching clients. To ensure the integrity of this process, ICF will conduct periodic audits to verify applicants’ coaching experience. This means that coaches should continue to obtain and document clients’ consent to store their information, have a policy on how that information will be protected and maintained, and have a system in place for tracking relevant data. For more information on Verification Requirements and to download the ICF coaching log template visit the ACC Experience Requirements page.
- Mentor Coaching: Completion of 10 hours of mentor coaching over a minimum of three months
- Performance Evaluation: A new requirement as of July 31, 2018, applicants must submit (upload) audio recording and written transcript of one coaching session with their application.
Note: When you complete the Fast Track to ICF Credential with Coaching Out of the Box® (COTBx) you will have completed 68 hours of approved coach specific training (no additional training hours required) and 7 hours of group mentor coaching (you only need 3 more one on one mentor coaching hours).
In addition to meeting the above ICF requirements, you will also have learned coaching core competencies and gained the confidence to use them through practice and feedback sessions.
Hopefully the requirements for the ACC (ACSTH path) credential are now clear. Next, I’ll cover the steps you need to take prior to submitting your application.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS
- Complete the 60 hours of coach specific accredited training.
- Complete the remaining coaching hours to reach the required 100 hours. As you complete your 60 hours of training it is recommended that you simultaneously begin coaching. In doing so you will be well on your way to completing the required 100 coaching hours by the time your training is finished, not to mention the valuable experience you will have gained.
- Complete the remaining hours to reach the required 10 Mentor Coaching hours. As a reminder, mentor coaching hours will consist of a Mentor Coach observing you coach and providing you with feedback.
NOTE: To find a mentor coach you can go to the ICF website and find a list of Mentor Coaches. If you are enrolled in the Fast Track you can ask one of your trainers. Mentor Coaches must be an ACC, PCC or MCC in good standing.
- Submit Application: Once you have completed the 100 coaching hours, 10 mentor coaching hours and have the coaching session recording and transcript, you are ready to submit the application.
Note: You must meet ALL the requirements (60 hours of training, 100 hours of coaching and 10 hours of mentor coaching, plus 1 coaching session recorded with transcript) BEFORE submitting your application.
- Complete the CKA exam: Once you submit your application you will receive a link to the exam (approximately 4 weeks).
- Upon receiving the link, you will have 60 days to complete the test.
- The test consists of about 155 questions (subject to change) to be answered in 3 hours.
Tip: You will be well prepared for the CKA exam if you complete the COTBx ICF CKA Prep Class (the final class in the Fast Track to ICF Credential). During the prep class you will be quizzed on questions that are similar in format and content to what you will find in the CKA exam.
THE PORTFOLIO AND ACTP PATHS FOR THE ICF ACC
Application process if some training is completed outside of COTBx
If you are counting Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units and/or non-approved training toward your training requirements, you are required to follow the ACC Portfolio path. There are some key differences between the ACSTH path and the Portfolio path.
- The Portfolio Path is a longer and more involved process
- The ICF requires robust documentation of training and coaching hours for the Portfolio path
- Review time is 14 weeks (versus 4 for the ACSTH path)
- The Portfolio path comes with a higher application fee versus the ACSTH path
- Visit the ICF webpage for more details on the different ACC paths
A few comments about the ACTP Path
If you want to apply using the ACTP path, you must complete an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). This path also requires the 100 hours of coaching but does not require the 10 hours of mentor coaching.
I hope this information has helped to clarify the requirements and steps needed to apply for the ACC. If you still find that something is unclear or if you have any questions, please get in touch with our Program Advisor or visit our website: www.coachingoutofthebox.com
There are many options when it comes to finding a coach training program whether you are looking to become a coach or learn coaching skills. In fact, there are so many options it can be difficult to know which coach training program is the right one for you. This article provides important information and practical tips to help you sort through the multitude of options, so you can find the best program for you.
Where to start
Before starting a coach training program, it is a good idea to do your research, talk to your network and answer a few questions. First you need to determine what type of training you need, then how much training you should complete. You’ll also want to know your budget and timeframe. Knowing these upfront can help you narrow the choices down and streamline the process.
How do you become a coach?
What is required to become a coach? The short answer is, it depends. To more fully answer this question, it is helpful to first understand more about the coaching profession.
The coaching profession is currently unregulated so there are no set requirements that one must meet before becoming a coach. It is up to the individual to determine how much and what type of training to complete. The exception, if you want to obtain a coaching credential such as the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation (ICF) you will find very specific training requirements.
The amount and type of training needed to become a coach depends somewhat on your goals and the type of coaching practice you envision. Coaching is multidimensional and is best thought of on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are trained, professional coach practitioners who work as an internal or external coach. On the other end are individuals who want to learn core coaching skills to use in their profession. The type and extent of training needed can vary dramatically depending on where you are, or where you want to be, on the continuum. Get a better idea of the coaching continuum by looking at the figure below, courtesy of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
So, if there are no formal training requirements to become a coach, what training should be completed? While there are ‘coaches’ who have no formal training (not recommended), most practitioners as well as managers/leaders using coaching skills have gone through some type of training program. As you do your research you will find that a wide variety of coach training programs exist. Make sure you know the answer to the following questions;
- Is the program accredited from a professional coaching organization?
- Does the program satisfy some or all requirements for earning a coach certification or credential?
- Does the program offer approved coach specific training hours?
- Does the program offer Continuing Coach Education (CCE) credits?
- Is the training done in-person, virtually or a blend of the two?
- How many in-class and outside the classroom hours will be required?
What skills do you need to be a coach?
When most of us think of coaching, we think of someone who has excellent communication skills and the ability to inspire and motivate. But being a good coach goes much further. According to the ICF, coaches should possess the following core competencies;
- Establishes ethical guidelines and professional standards
- Establishes the coaching agreement
- Establishes trust and intimacy with the client
- A coaching presence
- Active listening
- Powerful questioning
- Direct communication
- Creating awareness
- Designing actions, planning and goal setting and managing progress and accountability
How much does it cost to become a coach?
Of course, the answer to how much it costs to become a coach depends on your goals and the training path you decide to take. Factors that determine the cost of a coach training program include accreditation, duration and format. Costs for a coach training program typically range from a few hundred dollars for a single course up to $10,000 or more for an accredited, intensive, in-person program that meets the requirements for obtaining a coaching credential.
Do you need to be certified?
Currently the coaching industry is not regulated by any country or state and coaches are not required to have specific training or credentials. However, more clients expect their coach to have completed formal training / obtained a credential and more coaches are getting the coach specific training needed to meet this expectation.
This is the second in my series on tips for tackling Coaching Challenges.
Today I want to talk about a common but very important challenge – coaching the poor communicator. Of course, communication can be written or verbal and many points in this article can apply to both, but the focus today is really on interpersonal verbal communication.
First, we need to help our coachee identify the barriers getting in the way of good communication. Once we understand the reasons for poor communication, we need to help them break down the barriers and start building a path that will lead to clear, open, honest and productive communication.
Let’s start with the definition. We all know what communication is but sometimes I think it is helpful to go back to the basics. So here are a couple of definitions;
- a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior
- the imparting or exchanging of information or news
- means of connection between people or places
There are a few key words in these definitions; exchange and connection. When information is exchanged there must be a balance between giving and receiving. When communication works, there is a connection between the individuals involved. This gives us clues as to where we might focus when working with a poor communicator. Are they able to give and receive information effectively and in doing so make a positive connection? If not, where is the breakdown occurring? What is getting in the way and preventing them from being a good communicator?
Another aspect to consider is the goal of the communication. Common goals of communication are to;
- Build relationships
It can be helpful to unpack this a bit. For example, is the coachee good when the goal is to inform but lacking when it is to persuade or build relationships?
After exploring the process of communication and goals it can helpful to do some discovery around the most common barriers to good communication.
This is one area where your questioning skills really come into play. Use your questioning skills to ask powerful coaching questions that will help you and your coachee identify the barriers that prevent them from communicating in a way that is heard and well received by their audience.
As you work through the process, look for clues to these 7 common barriers.
Here’s an example of how you can use your questioning skills to break down the barrier or work through the process. Let’s say you identify that your client has emotional barriers, a common obstacle that gets in the way of open and honest communication.
Emotional barriers often involve fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others can be deep and long-standing. Often developed during childhood and then reinforced throughout our lives. Because of these emotional barriers people hold back from communicating or develop styles that are more closed, filtered and deceitful rather than healthy, open and honest.
Your success in this process will be based on your ability to not only ask excellent questions, but to ask them in a manner that is open, unattached and judgment-free. Asking not only the appropriate question, but in the appropriate way, is very important to the learning, living and communications process, especially for someone who is challenged by emotional barriers.
Here are 7 questions to get you started.
- Are you aware your perspective may be limiting your success?
- Do others feel safe sharing with you?
- When you are unsure of something, how does that affect your communication style?
- Is it easy for you to say what you think?
- How well do you listen to people?
- What one thing stands in your way?
- What can you dump that you won’t miss?
If you’d like more suggestions for questions to help you tackle coaching’s biggest challenges or training to develop your questioning skills, we have three resources for you to check out.
‘Tis the season for many things but one of the things on your list should be goal setting for 2018. As coaches, goal setting is a fundamental part of what we do and how we help our coachees. We use our coaching skills to help them figure out for THEMSELVES what goals they want to set and how THEY will go about achieving them.
But don’t forget about you! Hopefully you’ve already got your personal goals written down and know what you will do in 2018 to achieve them. If you haven’t completed the process yet, not to worry. The end of the year can sneak up on us. Often, we are so busy helping our coachees that we can let our personal work take a back seat. So now is the time to focus on your goals and plans for 2018. Take some time between now and January 1 to get those goals set. Regardless of where you are in the 2018 goal setting process, I’d like to challenge us all to think big for 2018. The coaching industry is taking off and that is creating new and exciting opportunities. Don’t settle for incremental gains in 2018!
This challenge, to think big and set big goals for 2018, may be daunting to some. Incremental gains feel safe. Big goals can create anxiety and fear in some, but they can also be energizing and a catalyst for change. There may be specific roadblocks and obstacles that have prevented you from setting or achieving big goals in the past. This is an opportunity to knock those obstacles down. One tool that can be very useful in helping you knock those obstacles down is our Personal Groundwork for Coaching Assessment Tool. This assessment tool has been carefully crafted to help you get to the root of blocks, prioritize areas to focus on first and develop a plan to tackle the issues.
The assessment is divided into six sections:
- Physical Environments
- Health and Wellness
- Money and Finances
- Relationships and Communication
- Time and Space
- Career and Business
You might wonder what some of these topics have to do with goal setting and achievement. But that is precisely the point. We each bring every aspect of our history, experience and lives into our work. These things can impact our effectiveness or hold us back. Often, in fact, it is our deep-seated experiences, past successes and failures, fears and insecurities that are at the root of what is propelling us forward or holding us back. So, we need to uncover what these are so that we can remove the obstacles and roadblocks that are preventing us from achieving big goals.
Once you have your big goals set, use the tool with your coachees. Just think of the difference we can make when we set and achieve our big goals for 2018.
I am starting a new series this month to provide tips for tackling Coaching Challenges.
The first in the series deals with a particularly prickly challenge – coaching the uncoachable.
The idea that some people are uncoachable goes against my grain – I like to think everyone can be coached – if we just take the right approach. I’ll admit that there are some individuals that are very difficult to coach. And I guess I must accept that there may be a few who really are uncoachable because they don’t see or believe there is any need to change. Today I’ll give you a few tips on what to do if you find yourself in a position to coach the uncoachable.
You may run across individuals that seem to be uncoachable at many different levels within an organization but you are more likely to find them at the top. These individuals typically have a lot of experience, they have made it to the top on their own, doing things their way. So, their thinking is often - why would they need to be coached? Or, they think it is everyone else who needs to change and others who could use coaching – not them.
But let’s be real – some get to the top based more on politics and charisma than performance and competence. Now, I am not saying that they don’t make contributions to their organizations but it is HOW they got there and HOW they interact with others that is the issue. Because of their approach or style, they often end up creating a toxic environment. Short-term they may be achieving their goals but long-term these same characteristics can end up derailing them. If you haven’t run into an uncoachable yet, you will find that uncoachables at the top of an organization often exhibit greed, arrogance, reckless risk-taking and other detrimental characteristics. Every top executive can benefit from coaching but not everyone sees it that way.
When it comes to coaching these uncoachables you need to flip the script. Rather than focus on their strengths it is more important to focus on what could potentially derail them and negatively impact their organization and their career.
Here are a few tips to get started when you are ready to coach an uncoachable.
- Understand their motivations, goals and personality and work with these not against them
- Help the coachee to see potential issues that could end up derailing their upward trajectory. This might involve gaining insight into WHY their approach has worked so far but then taking a long-term view to see how this approach could turn into a liability for them and their organization
- Help the coachee to discover how they can remain authentic but add new approaches, thinking and tools to achieve their goals that won’t become a liability
If you have an uncoachable challenge I think you will find our Personal Groundwork for Coaching (PGFC) Program™ and the PGFC Workbook particularly helpful. You will learn advanced listening, questioning and framing techniques designed to help with the more challenging coaching situations. Advanced skills will focus on helping coachees get to the root, expose blind spots and overcome resistance to change. In the case of the uncoachable, you will learn how to help them gain an awareness of what can derail their career and discover new approaches that will be an asset to them and their organization rather than a liability.