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Selecting a Professional Accreditation Body

Martin Hill, Senior Tutor, BSC

Martin Hill, Senior Tutor, BSC

People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.”- Blaise Pascal

I hope that the above quotation underscores the fact that my motive in writing this blog is not to “sell” one particular coaching professional body, but instead to encourage and enable you to embark on a voyage of self-discovery and make a selection.

The International Society of Qualified Coaches (ISQC) has launched recently and, as can be seen from my post-nominals below, I am a Fellow of ISQC. British School of Coaching supports ISQC as an organisation, as the body is the only professional body to explicitly recognise qualified coaches and is of international scope.

I thought that it might be useful to capture some of the points to consider when making your choice:

  • Evidence of professional and ethical practice – as those of you undertaking an ILM qualification know only too well, one of the key factors that coaching purchasers, tenders and HR professionals use to separate the wheat from the chaff in the coaching fields is what the prospective coach can evidence to demonstrate that they operate a professional and ethical coaching practice. Joining a professional body brings an external validation of that commitment – as it demonstrates your commitment to those ideals.
  • Needs – which to choose? For me this is going to be informed, amongst other things, by your own needs; the needs (or reassurance) of your clients; your type of coaching practice; your marketing strategy and also your location and the location of your practice. Find the body that suits your needs – but make sure it covers all bases. It may even mean that you are a member of a variety of coaching bodies because each may suit a different purpose. What I like most about ISQC is that it explicitly recognises and distinguishes the fact that you have taken the time, trouble and expense to undertake a coaching qualification – the ISQC post-nominals shouts that qualification distinction from the rooftops – a fact that coaching purchasers are highly likely to take into account, particularly given that the Ridler Report recognised that the coaching purchasers were becoming more discerning and better informed.

Similarly the name of the professional body may well be useful in attracting prospective clients or reassuring existing clients. For example, practising in the Middle East- the phrase “international” adds a layer of greater kudos than perhaps a more localised name would use. Similarly would “European” appeal to the Middle East market? Does one phrase fulfil more than one function? “International” fits multiple markets in one hit, for example.

  • Expectations – this does not just refer to your own expectations, but what are the expectations for the professional accreditation body? For example CPD requirements; membership criteria; supervision requirements; selection criteria etc. Do these fit with you? Can you deliver these? What added value is it bringing to you if you complete them? At what cost?
  • Compatibility – some professional bodies have Codes of Conduct and Ethical Codes, and require that you adopt and comply with these. Check out whether these are compatible with your needs and your values and beliefs. If it does not fit – shop around.
  • Marketing – a professional accreditation body membership can provide you with that marketing edge and help build your own personal brand and USP (unique selling point) in a crowded marketplace. If the membership benefits include post-nominals, this is something that can be built into your business stationery and publicity material.
  • Networking – for me the key test of a professional accreditation body is the membership. If there are networking events go along – if the body is any good, it will welcome you BEFORE you have taken the commitment to become a member. Do you feel comfortable? Are the other members from similar areas of practice etc. etc.? Do the networking events provide accredited CPD opportunities? Do they hold meetings in your region?
  • Cost and Benefits – what gives you “more bang for your buck?” What benefits do they offer? What benefits do you want?

The above is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it prompts some research and some action.

If you are interested in finding more about ISQC, we have included more information here

Martin Hill LL.B (Hons), FCMI, FInstLM, FISQC, MAC, EMCC Member, Coach & Coach Supervisor
Faculty Member
Programme Director for ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching & Mentoring Courses