The International Coach Federation has taken the lead in developing a definition and philosophy of coaching, as well as in establishing ethical standards among its members. Through its own Code of Ethics, Ethical Conduct Review Process, Program Complaint Process and Independent Review Board (IRB), ICF sets professional coaching standards while also giving consumers a venue to file ethics complaints about ICF Members, ICF Credential-holders or ICF-approved training programs.
ICF's self-governance foundation comprises and depends upon the following standards and practices, supported by the efforts of the ICF Board, global representatives, and credentialed and member coaches:
- Core Competencies that define a professional coach’s required skills and establish the foundation for the professional credentialing examination and accreditation for coach-training programs.
- A Code of Ethics to which ICF Members and ICF Credentialed coaches pledge commitment and accountability to standards of professional conduct.
- Professional oversight through an Independent Review Process for ICF Members and ICF Credentialed coaches, which allows the public to report concerns and to be confident of objective investigation, follow-up and disciplinary action.
- Professional coach credentialing, entailing a stringent examination and review process through which coaches must demonstrate their skills, proficiency and documented experience in application of coaching core competencies. Credentialing includes Continuing Coaching Education requirements for periodic renewal of coaching credentials, to ensure continued professional growth and development.
- Professional Coach Training Accreditation, by which coach-training programs submit to review and continuing oversight to demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards for curricula and alignment with defined core competencies, faculty, structure, proficiency and ethics to support excellence in the training of coaches.
- A Code of Conduct to which ICF-approved coach-training programs pledge commitment and accountability to standards of professional operation.
- A Program Complaint Process for ICF-approved coach-training programs, which allows ICF Members, ICF Credential-holders and students currently enrolled in ICF-approved programs to report concerns and to be confident of objective investigation, follow-up and disciplinary action.
- Ongoing self-regulatory oversight initiatives to track the needs and concerns of individual and organizational clients on an international basis and to demonstrate an active commitment to meaningful professional self-governance.