The ICF ACC Credential

Today, I received an email from the ICF that I was awarded my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential! This post chronicles my path to the ICF ACC credential, a crucial part of coach journey. Getting this certification will open up the doors to many new opportunities as the most recognized coaching certification out there.

As some of you might know, I completed my ADAPT Health Coach Training Program certification back in late 2019. My path to that certification was filled with stress in generating the final recording for the Practical Skills Assessment (PSA). However, this one was not nearly so bad. Here is what I did.

Which “Path”?

ICF has 3 different “paths” to credentialing: ACTP, ACSTH, Portfolio. I took the ACSTH path, which stands for Accredited Coach Specific Training Hours. It means that I satisfied my coursework requirement with a course that is approved and accredited by ICF.

Coursework Requirement

ICF requires a minimum of 60 training hours to qualify for the ACC credential.

I could have used the Portfolio path, which enables coaches to qualify with unaccredited course work, and use my ADAPT HCTP coursework to qualify. However, at the time I was unsure if it would qualify, even though we had heard that one of our mentor coaches did use the coursework in their certification. During the process, we got word that one of my ADAPT HCTP cohort’s grads did successfully obtain their ICF ACC credential with ADAPT coursework.

Instead of the my ADAPT coursework, I chose to use coursework from Marion Franklin’s Laser Focused Coaching Course, which is an ICF accredited ACSTH course. Using this coursework, I didn’t need to submit a bunch of proof of coursework and its contents, and didn’t need to wait as long potentially. I had already signed up for the course in my ongoing education flurry post-ADAPT course, so I would attempt credentialing with the ACSTH path. (BTW I *highly* recommend this course to all coaches!)

The DREADED Recording

Yep, the ICF ACC credential requires a submission of a recording to demonstrate your mastery of coaching at the ACC level. However, I did not experience the stress of generating this recording like I did for ADAPT. Chalk it up to more experience, more confidence in coaching skills, and also a much more relaxed timeline.

Well, sort of relaxed.

As I chased after the perfect recording, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and I was eyeing the reopening of public school in distance learning mode. So while I didn’t stress as much about my performance, I did stress about getting the recording done before school started because I knew when it did, I would not be able to engage coaching clients very much at all!

So about 2 weeks before school started, I managed to record a decent session. I had it reviewed by a mentor coach, and she noted that there was one competency that was not clearly exhibited. I didn’t have any anti-coaching behaviors, and all other competencies were there. However, she was unsure that at the ACC level they would care or not with this omission. She did note that at the next level up, the Professional Coach Certification (PCC), it probably would not pass. We both agreed to give it a try and if it didn’t pass I would just generate a new recording.

So on August 28, I submitted all my materials and waited. Thankfully only about a month later, on November 2, I received notice that my recording passed! I then just needed to take the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

The EXAM

Coaches told me that the CKA was really easy and to not worry about it. Contrast that with the NBHWC Exam where there was a ton of knowledge to be memorized, and the test needed to be taken in a testing center with onerous restrictions.

To prepare for this exam, there are numerous blog posts about it out there. I just read this post, How to Ace the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment Exam by Michael Cheuk. I also went and took the sample questions and got them all correct, which boosted my confidence in passing this test.

For preparation, I just read the ICF Code of Ethics, reviewed the old ICF Competencies (not the newly adopted competencies since the CKA was based on the previous ones), and read the ICF coaching definition. Then I sat down on a Sunday morning and took the test.

I had 3 hours to take it, but I finished in 1 hour 25 minutes. I didn’t find the questions hard but they did have many where you were left wondering which of 2 answers was correct. I could flag questions for later review, and noted that I only flagged about 15 or so. I went back to review those and then submitted, as I thought that if I got all 15 wrong, I would still get a passing score – passing is getting 70% right, and there were 155 questions in total. A moment later, it told me I passed!

The Credential

The official notification came 2 days after passing the CKA. They use Acclaim, which is an online badge service. I guess you can link to their page for authenticity, so here is the badge and you can click on it to make sure it is legit!

RELIEF!

This was a nice win for me, and evidence that wins can still happen amidst the chaos and stress of a pandemic, public school distance learning, the teetering economy, and contentious elections.

Many thanks to ADAPT Health Coach Training Program for setting me on this path, to Marion Franklin and her Laser Focused Coaching Course for tightening up my coaching, to mentor coaches Tijen Genco and Merci Miglino for their follow up teachings post-Laser course, and to my clients who were kind enough to let me record an occasional session for the certification.

There is still much to do, but I am very happy to have this checked off my list as I add to my skills and credentials as a coach.