• Marlene Thomas

Professional Development and Certification: Ensuring Best Practices, Assuring Clients

Professional certification demonstrates proven knowledge, experience, and skill in a specific field of endeavor. Certifications are earned by pursuing a rigorous course of study followed by passing an exam (or exams) designed by a professional organization seeking to uphold prescribed standards of practice. Pursuing certifications associated with your industry – and encouraging those you lead to do the same – equips you with the highest and best practices available, enables you to speak and act with confidence, and assures the public that you are committed to the excellence and integrity advocated by your profession.

A Good Example. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) provides training and credentialing for professional coaches. Programs range from 60+ hours of thorough training with 100+ hours of experience, to 200+ hours of training with 2,500+ hours of actual coaching experience. Additionally, ICF also sets industry-wide standards by offering accreditation to coach training programs, lending authority, credibility, and continuity to the profession. Co-Active Training Institute provides training and certification and is itself accredited by ICF. Because of their proven reputation and elevated standards, affiliation with ICF can provide coaches with increased professional authority.

Professional Ethics. Another benefit to pursuing certification is learning to apply the highest moral standards to the unique circumstances of your profession. While statutory requirements address general business activities, individual organizations usually have a code of ethics that applies directly to the standard of conduct expected of its professionals. These codes not only set expectations for professionals, but they also construct an objective framework for addressing complaints. During the certification process, increasing familiarity with a code of ethics inspires and cultivates integrity on behalf of the professional, while simultaneously protecting public interest by defining an avenue of redress. An excellent example of a code of ethics for coaches is found in the newly updated International Coaching Federation’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. These documents disclose a definition and philosophy of coaching that sets the standard for practicing coaches. The updated Code went into effect January 1, 2020.

The knowledge and practical experience you will gain through pursuing certification will increase your ability to become the best coach you can be. Not only will you have the poise and conviction of a credentialed professional, but your clients will know they are receiving the best that the coaching profession has to offer. An added benefit is the community of similarly trained professionals who share insights and ideas about the contemporary culture in which they serve. Having a network of topnotch professional support equips coaches to speak with clarity and assurance, even in the midst of an uncertain and rapidly evolving situation, such as dealing with COVID-19. The knowledge and experience gained through the process of coaching certification will help ensure that clients are receiving the help, guidance, and skills they are seeking.

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