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ICF FAQ: Making Sense of Mentor Coaching

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For coaches pursuing an ICF Credential, receiving Mentor Coaching (either as an independently contracted service or through an ICF ACTP) is nonnegotiable. However, it’s also a process that raises numerous questions, for credentialing candidates and members of the professional coaching community at large. ICF’s Assistant Executive Director George Rogers, who coordinates staff and member activities around credentialing in service of ICF’s world-class standards system, took the time to provide some key insights into the meaning of Mentor Coaching as applied to ICF’s policies and practices.

Q: How does ICF define Mentor Coaching?

A: For the purposes of the ICF Credentialing process, Mentor Coaching is defined as providing professional assistance in achieving and demonstrating the levels of coaching competency demanded by the ICF Credential level sought by the coach-applicant.

Lectures and classroom activities are only part of the learning equation. The ICF believes that, in order to be effective, initial coach training and continuing professional education should include opportunities for individual practice, reflection and learning with the support of a skilled observer providing feedback. This is the role of the Mentor Coach. (We’ve outlined the key duties and competencies of a Mentor Coach on the ICF website.)

Q: How does Mentor Coaching differ from mentoring?

A: The ICF subscribes to the definition of a mentor as an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. A Mentor Coach, on the other hand, provides feedback and assessment based on the ICF Core Competencies.

Q: How do Mentor Coaching and coaching supervision differ?

A: The ICF defines coaching supervision as the interaction that occurs when a coach periodically brings his or her coaching work experiences to a coaching supervisor in order to engage in reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the coach and his or her clients.

Making_Sense_of_Mentor_CoachingWhereas Mentor Coaching focuses on the development of coaching skills, coaching supervision offers a broader opportunity for support and development, enabling to coach to focus more on what is going on in his process and/or relationship with clients.

As the coaching profession grows and matures, there is an increasing amount of emphasis placed on the value of coaching supervision to coaches, clients and the integrity of the profession itself. Recognizing this trend, a variety of ICF work groups have held discussions with the intent of defining and establishing a clear position regarding coaching supervision. These conversations are ongoing, and I anticipate that they’ll evolve right along with the profession.

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