Home Research Coaching Surveys Development of Coaches: VI. Does ICF Certification Make A Difference?

Development of Coaches: VI. Does ICF Certification Make A Difference?

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Coaching and the Frontier Village

In the past, I have drawn an analogy (as have many of my colleagues) between the emerging profession of coaching and the establishment of a frontier town. Perhaps the renegade coaches are the pioneers and trail-blazers. They like their town to be a bit wild and filled with interesting people from many different backgrounds. These innovators, rogues, and rascals don’t want the town to get “too civilized” and are inclined to move on when everything gets too “settled.” Conversely, the ICF certified coaches may be the ones who want to build a sustainable community (I have called them the “burghers” who build the foundation and govern their town). These men and women often become the school teachers, the bankers and even the preachers and sheriffs of their town. They want law-and-order and do not take kindly to those who insist on going their own way and causing problems in town. These “law-abiding” community-builders are often relieved when the renegades leave town so that they can seek out new frontiers that allow them to remain staunchly a non-confirming individual.

Obviously, this is just an analogy and certainly does not capture the much subtler processes going on in the field of professional coaching. There might, however, be an ounce of truth (and reality) in drawing this analogy. We will have to explore further the differences between ICF certified coaches and those without certification. Is Rey Carr accurate in his identification of “parallel universes” – and is there room for both law-abiding citizens and rogues in the community being built by those of us who care about and serve as stewards of the coaching profession? Is there a place for both innovation and credibility? Can we embrace both diversity and uniform standards in this field? Do we want professional coaching to become something more than a frontier village – or is that the primary appeal of this human serve endeavor for many of us? I believe that these questions and alternatives are yet to be fully addressed. Stay turned . . .


Campone, Francine and Awai, Deepa, “Life’s thumbprint: the impact of significant life events on coaches and their coaching”, Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/17521882.2011.648334.

Orlinsky, D.E. and Rønnestad, M. H. (2005), How Psychotherapists Develop; A study of therapeutic Work and professional growth. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    December 30, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    What a terrific paper! And I’m not saying that because my name is spelled correctly or my ideas are accurately presented. The distinction between internal/external locus of control, the renegades/certified distinction, and the frontier town analogy are all stimulating and thought-provoking ideas.


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