In a few other blogs and an e-book, I write about why I added coaching, the arguments for and against the designation, and how to start and build a private practice. Now, a discussion about getting the training and certificate to add the credential, if you so choose. There is a good argument that our mental health training is all we need. After all, anyone can call themselves a coach!

I took a course and sat for the certificate because I wanted to use the designation, “Executive Coach”. I am also noticing the trend in educational institutions: There are dozens of universities offering certificates in leadership coaching, executive coaching and other titles. When you look at the course work, it looks very familiar to those of us in mental health. I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime in the future, there was an ambitious state that attempts to regulate the profession.

Currently there are two organizations that offer a coach certification.

The International Coaching Federation and The Center for Credentialing and Education. Each have their own characteristics and requirements.

While these look similar, there are important distinctions when you drill down and look at the specific requirements to get either the Board Certified Coach (BCC) from CCE or the Associate, Professional, or Master Certified Coach (ACC, PCC or MCC) from ICF.

For mental health professionals, The BCC is an easy addition. The ACC, PCC and MCC make it a little harder for those of us who want the designation because the training in the competencies is a duplication of our graduate school coursework and the number of post training hours is significant. I am assuming that part of the ethical concerns for the large amount of hours is proficiency in the core competencies. For clinicians, these are supervised and monitored in internship and pre-licensure status.


There are different competencies required in each training:

The ICF:

  1. Setting the Foundation
  2. Co-creating the Relationship
  3. Communicating Effectively
  4. Facilitating Learning and Results

And the CCE competencies:

  1. Screening and Orientation in Coaching
  2. Fundamental Coaching Skills
  3. Assessments in Coaching
  4. Coaching Approaches for Individuals
  5. Coaching Approaches for Business and Organizations
  6. Ethical and Professional Practice in Coaching

You’ll notice that many of the competencies mentioned by ICF are not listed with CCE. That’s because CCE “identified overlapping portions and independently verified that NCCs and fully state-licensed counselors have met many competencies through a rigorous measurement and credential verification process.” (CCE Website) The CCE competencies specifically tailor counseling skills to coaching while the ICF competencies are found in the curriculum of any accredited helping profession.  Another point of distinction; the ICF does not require a bachelor’s degree to get the coach designation while the CCE does.

The ICF (and its coach designations), have a large membership and have been around for over two decades. The CCE and its coach designation is newer, but I predict with the interest of many therapists having this additional certificate, the organization will grow in size.

One very important distinction to consider: if you are a masters or doctorate level mental health professional, the BCC designation takes into account your years of training, the enforceable ethics code and your privilege. Yes, you’ll be held to a higher standard of confidentiality but that’s a plus for our clients. It’s also a terrific marketing tool. When I relay to a client that I have privilege, and with a few exceptions, our notes and sessions are confidential, it’s a bonus. Admittedly, The ICF and it’s designations has been around for many years. They are an established, recognized global entity with many branches, educational opportunities and members. There are many clinicians who are members. CCE is the newer, unknown. My hope is that each recognize that training in mental health can be the foundation of any coaching relationship.