My path to a certified ICF coach – how did I do it and was it worth it?

coach icf

Since September i am a certified coach of the International Coaching Federation, specifically an Associate Certified Coach (ACC). My path to obtaining this certificate was long – 9 years! But not because it is so demanding – although it is indeed not the easiest one – in my case, it was more about whether this certificate is necessary for me. And it took me a while to find the answer to this question. In this article I will talk about my journey and discoveries.

How did it start?

I came across the concept of “pure” coaching in 2012. I then decided to become a client in the coaching process and find the answer to the question: in what professional direction should I develop. I met with my coach every two weeks to spend time with myself, actually in his presence. And understand yourself. It was a revealing, fascinating and profound experience for me, which allowed me to gain insight into my needs, but also my fears. Thanks to my coach, I also learned more about myself, including by understanding my talents CliftonStrenghtFinder (which I highly recommend!).

I didn’t stop at fascination. The following year, I decided to take part in coach training myself. I then learned how coaching differs from mentoring and that it is “accompanying a client in a creative process that makes you think and inspires you to maximize your professional and personal potential.” My coach and mentor was wonderful Anna Pyrek

I was fascinated and enchanted. While working as a Scrum Master at that time, I could already see my wonderful team in my mind’s eye, which I “accompany” in their daily work. by asking key coaching questions and how I contribute to “maximizing” their “potential” during individual coaching sessions. 

My team quickly called me to order, saying that they were very happy with my new skill (read: toy), but expected action from me and the specific help I had received so far. To this day, I am very grateful for these suggestions to my team, because this situation made me think about the role of a Scrum Master and resulted in the thought in my head that a Scrum Master can be a coach, but this is not his only attitude (and this happened long before great barry Overseem’s article on the 8 attitudes of a Scrum Master).

Then, in the following years, I learned the secrets of group and team coaching from trainers NOVO. Here I learned about how the team works as a group, how to support it in harmonious cooperation, how to build common understanding and values. It was another portion of invaluable knowledge, for which I am extremely grateful.

And so a few more years passed and I became a manager. Coaching skills were very useful in my everyday work, but there were also many other interesting areas that I wanted to explore, e.g. Management 3.0. Certification in the area of ​​coaching fell into the background.

Why did I decide to get the certificate?

The topic returned to me in 2021. The pandemic made me think and make various changes. The biggest change and difficulty at the same time was the need to work remotely and give up face-to-face contact. And this contact was – as it turned out – indispensable for me. For two reasons actually. First of all: I draw energy from contact with another person, such contact actually gives me fuel, strength and energy. Secondly: while working remotely, I could no longer (or so it seemed to me) use my excellent skills “reading room” – quick understanding of the team’s situation and relationships at the level of gestures, words, behaviors. I felt robbed of something. I also felt that I needed to get back in touch with what gave me so much joy. And then I returned to the interrupted coaching certification process. 

From my perspective, I see that it was a remedy for the pandemic void in contact with other people. When I look into the reason for making this decision, deeper into myself, this is how I see my motivation. However, being a certified coach also has many external, quite tangible benefits. Here are some reasons why you should be certified as an ICF coach:

  • Trust and credibility: ICF is one of the most recognized and respected coaching associations in the world. Being certified shows a high standard of professionalism and ethics, which increases the trust of clients, employers and other professionals.
  • Professional standards: The process of obtaining ICF certification requires meeting strict educational, ethical and practical standards. Possessing this certificate confirms that you are prepared to coach effectively in accordance with international standards.
  • Increased competences: The process of obtaining ICF certification includes an assessment of coaching and theoretical skills. Thanks to this, you develop as a coach, improving your skills and knowledge.
  • Market competitiveness: In today’s competitive professional environment, ICF certification can help you stand out from other coaches. Many clients and organizations prefer to work with certified coaches, which can increase your chances of getting clients or a job.
  • International reach: ICF operates worldwide, which means that the ICF certificate is recognized and accepted in many countries. If you have plans to expand your coaching practice into the international market, then the ICF certification can be invaluable.
  • Contact network: With ICF certification, you have access to a global community of coaches. This can help you establish contacts, exchange experiences and develop professionally.

What does the certification process look like?

If you feel that you also want to go this route, you will find tips on how to do it in this paragraph.  

The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers several different levels of certification for coaches, including the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) certificate. To apply for this certificate, you need to go through several steps:

  1. Coaching training: To apply for ACC certification, you must complete at least 60 hours of coaching education. This may include ICF-approved training, courses, or academic programs. Please note that not every training provider is accredited by the ICF.
  2. Ethical education: Understanding and compliance Icf code of ethics it is necessary. Most often, the Code is simply part of the training offered by accredited training institutions.
  3. Mentoring your coaching: You must complete a minimum of 10 hours of mentoring with an ICF accredited coach.
  4. Practice: You must have at least 100 documented coaching hours – time spent in sessions with clients.
  5. Registration and payment: In addition to the certification fee, an ICF membership fee is also required.
  6. Practical skills exam: You must record your coaching session with one client and send it to an ICF evaluator for review. You only send the audio of the session along with the script. The session should last between 20 and 60 minutes.
  7. Theory exam: After passing the practical skills exam, you will be invited to take a written exam, which is available on the online platform in the form of a test. The exam consists of many questions (I had as many as 155 of them!), but there is also a lot of time – 3 hours. However, I would like to point out that it is worth being rested and securing these three hours of peace.
  8. Certification decision: After passing the theory exam, you are now certified! As beautiful and shiny as mine below:
certyfikat icf luiza lipień
  1. Maintaining the certificate: Just obtaining a certificate is not the end of the road. And this is a good approach for me. Once you have obtained your ACC certification, you must maintain your activity as a coach and attend regular follow-up training to keep your skills current.

Note: all the above steps can be completed in Polish. Details of the requirements can be found on the website Associate certified coach (acc) credential.

Was it worth it?

Oh yes! I especially see it now as I write this article. Being with a group and in a group during the difficult time of the pandemic and lockdown satisfied my (necessary) need to belong, to be with someone in the process. Returning to the coach’s values ​​and ethical principles organized my knowledge and gave me the opportunity to gain closure. It is always worth developing, and any good training is a great opportunity to develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills. I met a wonderful mentor who supported me during the training, throughout the certification process and beyond. Gretel i bow down!

What else? I met new people! And in times of pandemic and limited contacts, it was wonderful! The concept of Cocha’s “wealth” also came back to me, a bit dusty and standing in the corner. It says that in the coaching process, not only the client is important, but also YOU ​​as a coach, as a person. What matters is how you feel, how prepared and calm you are, whether you have readiness and space. Once I dusted off this concept, I felt relieved. Such a relief that I don’t have to tense up. Both as a coach, but also in any other activity. My wealth is ALSO important. It’s very liberating.

To sum up, if you decide to go for it, the certification process can be a great adventure for you. You can decide that it will be a quick attack to the top, where you will certainly have a lot of joy, satisfaction from the effort and beautiful views. You can also take your time – like I did – and there is nothing wrong with that, because the point is to gather experiences and reflections, learn about yourself and others. There are no better or worse ways. Every path you choose is good because it is YOURS.