** REVISED – 28th May 2021 with information on the Association for Coaching **
You’re considering training as a coaching supervisor and you want to understand the accreditation of coaching supervision training.
That should be pretty straightforward, right?
Well, here’s a morality tale that suggests otherwise:
Some years ago I decided to purchase a bookkeeping course for my finance assistant. You’d think this would be pretty straightforward too but what I quickly discovered was that, as someone new to the field, I had no idea which were the credible courses and what accreditation I should be looking for. I stumbled around the internet trying to find out what all the acronyms meant and which counted for something in terms of professional recognition. It took quite a while to find out which I should go for and, by the end, I’d become an accidental expert!
This experience was frustrating but it also gave me an invaluable insight into what it feels like to seek training in a new and unfamiliar field.
I realised that when someone researches new training for the first time they are frequently confronted by a barrage of unfamiliar and confusing acronyms, competing professional bodies and similar-sounding accreditations. Worse still, the training providers have forgotten what it’s like not to know this and so they rarely explain what to look for! They take it for granted that buyers will know.
So in this article, I want to make it easy for you. My aim is to lay out simply and concisely the various accreditations in coaching supervision and to help you navigate the maze of titles, acronyms and awards.
We will explore:
- What each professional body offers in terms of accreditations for coaching supervision training and individual coaching supervisor credentials.
- Which professional bodies are most credible and influential within supervision accreditation.
- The differences between these professional bodies in terms of coaching supervision accreditation.
- What to look for in terms of accreditation when choosing a course.
- The criteria for attaining the accreditation as a coaching supervisor once you are qualified.
By the end of this article, hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid the frustrating and lengthy process I had to endure when buying a bookkeeping course and instead you can focus on choosing the right coaching supervision course for you.
OK, let’s dive in head first!
Key Bodies in the Accreditation of Coaching Supervision
So let’s start with identifying the key bodies for accrediting coaching supervision.
These bodies can be divided into two main categories:
- Professional Coaching Bodies
- Awarding Bodies (UK focus for this article)
The professional coaching bodies are typically self-regulating organisations that aim to set standards of training, development, practice and ethics in their respective fields. They have been created by coaches to promote, support and enhance the standing of coaching and can be seen, in a sense, as the guardians of the profession.
The awarding bodies, by contrast, are regulated institutions with a focus on standardisation, qualification management and development. In this category are universities and institutes such as the Institute of Leadership & Management and CIPD.
The focus of the article is primarily on the first category and I will only briefly address the second category from a UK angle. This is simply because every country will have its own formal educational structures whereas the professional bodies are international in scope.
So let’s now look at which bodies offer what, and which are most influential and credible within the field of coaching supervision.
Professional Coaching Bodies and the Accreditation of Coaching Supervision
The dominant professional coaching bodies are:
- International Coach Federation (ICF)
- European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)
- Association for Coaching (AC)
If you’re at the stage of thinking to become a coaching supervisor, then these bodies will be familiar to you and you won’t need me to describe them in detail.
However, what is likely to be less familiar to you is whether and how they are involved with the accreditation of coaching supervision training and of individual supervisors. This is what we’ll explore shortly.
Two additional organisations worth mentioning in terms of coaching supervision are:
- Association for Professional Executive Coaches and Supervisors (APECS)
- Association for Coaching Supervisors (AoCS)
Let’s take a look at the three largest professional bodies to understand what they offer around the accreditation of coaching supervision.
In each case I have looked at:
- How they treat coaching supervision as part of a coach’s own credentialing
- Whether, and how, they offer accreditation of coaching supervision training
- Whether, and how, they accredit individual coaching supervisors
I have also summarised the key points in the Coaching Supervision Accreditation Table below.
European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)
The EMCC has been the most significant and influential of the professional bodies in the field of coaching supervision for many years.
Supervision is seen as intrinsic to the ongoing development and competence of coaches and, as such, the EMCC has a fully-developed framework for the accreditation of coaching supervision training as well as for individual coaching supervisors.
They have built out a detailed competency framework which acts as the bedrock of their quality assurance alongside their code of conduct.
In addition, the EMCC hosts regular international conferences on coaching supervision and these have seen it become a major influence in the field.
EMCC – Role of Coaching Supervision in Coaching Credentials
The EMCC is a huge proponent of supervision and encourages it through all their work.
When it comes to individual coach credentialing, the EMCC requires a minimum amount of coaching supervision be received.
The level varies according to the individual coaching credential sought and varies from one hour per quarter for Foundation level coach to one hour of supervision per 35 hours of coaching at Master Practitioner level.
What’s clear is that the EMCC values supervision and treats it as a core part of a coach’s necessary developmental process.
EMCC – Accreditation of Coaching Supervision Training
The EMCC provides the gold standard in accreditation for coaching supervision training.
Their European Supervision Quality Award (ESQA) is recognised for its rigour and adult-centric approach and is perhaps the most credible accreditation in this field.
The ESQA is awarded to training providers whose course successfully meets the rigorous application and quality assurance process of the EMCC, including the input and output standards, the quality of the faculty, adherence to the supervision competencies and ethical frameworks and more.
There are currently only 9 ESQA holders in the world (of which ICCS is one) and only 2 of which are designed as virtual programmes. The list of 9 providers can be found here. Six of these providers are based in the UK, one in the US, one in France and one in the Netherlands.
Unusually, the accreditation process focuses not just on the course itself but also the operating standards of the training provider including their financial robustness, student support, faculty and complaints procedures. This, for me, is a great indication of how the EMCC is trying to ensure quality throughout the profession.
EMCC – Accreditation of Individual Coaching Supervisors
Alongside the rigorous training accreditation, the EMCC provides an equally robust and credible individual supervisor accreditation scheme.
The European Supervision Individual Award (ESIA) provides the framework for becoming credentialed as a coaching supervisor with the EMCC some time after the coaching supervision training has been completed.
As with most accreditation schemes, the individual credentialing process takes place separately from the initial training and indeed, most coaching supervisors will not apply for individual accreditation until they have been actively supervising for 3 years after their initial training.
In other words, this is a two-step process in which the training school qualifies you as a coaching supervisor through an accredited course and then you spend time building your experience before applying for professional recognition as a supervisor with the EMCC.
If you have already been credentialed with one of the coaching bodies then this process of training, qualification, experience and professional credential will be familiar to you.
EMCC – Summary
The EMCC is a true leader in coaching supervision. Not only do they take it seriously as a requirement for ongoing coaching credentials but they have the most fully built-out system to conceptualise, measure, and quality assure supervision and practice.
International Coach Federation (ICF)
The ICF lives up to its name by being the most truly international in its influence and prestige as a professional body.
However, surprisingly, it has yet to take a significant role in the development of coaching supervision.
ICF – Role of Coaching Supervision in Coaching Credentials
In 2018, the ICF officially recognised supervision as a form of CCE (Continuing Coach Education) and now allows up to 10 hours of coaching supervision per year to be counted as CCE by coaches renewing their professional coaching credentials.
This was a positive step from the ICF which has more typically focused on mentor coaching as their preferred approach to a coach’s ongoing development.
However, unlike the other professional coaching bodies, supervision is not seen as a necessary or mandatory part of maintaining professional credentials.
ICF – Accreditation of Coaching Supervision Training
Despite the ICF’s recent recognition of supervision, it has not developed any kind of accreditation framework for coaching supervision training.
From an international perspective, this is somewhat disappointing since the ICF certainly still has the largest influence on the profession globally. The lack of a framework seems to suggest that either the ICF does not see coaching supervision as a discipline in its own right or that, if it does, that it doesn’t need to receive the same level of rigorous quality assurance and consideration as coach training.
Thankfully, however, the ICF does enable coaching supervision training to be recognised as CCE and to be mapped to their core competencies and resource development. The ICCS, along with other coaching supervision schools, have successfully achieved ICF recognition of coaching supervision courses in this way.
This means that, if you’re credentialed with the ICF, gaining CCEs through your coaching supervision training will be a huge bonus that will ensure that you can use the course towards the renewal of your credentials.
ICF – Accreditation of Individual Coaching Supervisors
Unsurprisingly, given the above position, the ICF has not developed any kind of accreditation of coaching supervisors and instead continues to focus only on mentor coaches. This seems like a real blind spot in an organisation that otherwise is the leader in coaching worldwide and I hope that in time they will begin to address this.
ICF – Summary
It might seem surprising that I have written about the ICF at all given their lack of specific accreditation for coaching supervision. However, the reality is that the ICF remains the largest professional body for coaching in the world and having an understanding of what they do and don’t offer for coaching supervision accreditation is essential.
We are an international school and so we have taken into account the needs of the international coaching community and its widespread adoption of ICF-approved training and accreditation. It was this reason that we secured ICF CCE for our coaching supervision course.
Association for Coaching (AC)
The Association for Coaching is a UK-based organisation with an international membership.
Like the EMCC, the AC demonstrates a commitment to coaching supervision throughout its work and has developed its own approach to accreditation in the field.
AC – Role of Coaching Supervision in Coaching Credentials
Like the EMCC, supervision is a requirement for any coach seeking to gain professional credentials as a coach with the Association for Coaching.
The amount of supervision required is dependent on the level of coaching credential being sought ranging from 3 months of supervision at Foundation level to 12 months of supervision at Master level.
Their commitment to supervision can also be seen in their frequent group supervision experience sessions.
AC – Accreditation of Coaching Supervision Training
In the last couple of years, the AC has begun to offer AC Accredited Diploma in Coaching Supervisor Training.
Although a relatively new, accreditation the AC have applied their usual rigour to the criteria for gaining this accreditation including such things as a minimum number of supervision hours, a robust assessment process by the training school, minimum supervision of supervision and much more besides.
We have always valued the Association of Coaching as a broad church organisation that reflects the interests and needs of all coaches and so, along with the EMCC and ICF, we eagerly pursued accreditation of our Diploma in Coaching Supervision with them and secured it in May 2021.
AC – Accreditation of Individual Coaching Supervisors
When it comes to the accreditation of individual coaching supervisors, the AC has a very robust and credible scheme which has been running for several years now.
Any coaching supervisor seeking individual accreditation by the AC must have at least 250 hours of coaching and at least 60 hours of supervision under their belt.
Like the EMCC, accreditation as a coaching supervisor has one level of accreditation only.
AC – Summary
The Association for Coaching is an excellent organisation which is progressive, thought-provoking and inclusive and clearly values supervision both as a service and a profession.
A Note on APECS and AoCS
Two bodies I mentioned earlier also feature within coaching supervision but to a much more limited degree when it comes to accreditation.
APECS is the Association for Professional Executive Coaches and Supervisors and currently offers an individual accreditation process for experienced coaches and supervisors. APECS does not offer any accreditation of training courses and tends to be highly-focused on the corporate space when it comes to membership.
AoCS is the Association for Coaching Supervisors, the leading membership body for coaching supervisors. However, it does not offer an accreditation programme and has chosen to focus on creating the community of coaching supervisors and to support their ongoing development and the profession’s place within coaching.
Coaching Supervision Accreditation, Universities and UK Awarding Bodies
As we are an international training organisation, I won’t spend a long time on the awarding bodies of the UK. However, as we are UK-based, as many of our participants are based in the UK, and as coaching supervision training itself is skewed heavily to the UK, it is worth looking at this area.
The first thing to note here is that there are a growing number of universities entering the coaching supervision space.
There are now a number of postgraduate certificates around coaching supervision and, as you would expect, they carry the traditional weight of university status.
Typically these tend to be more research-based although not to the exclusion of practice. They are also longer in duration than a practice-focused coaching supervision course.
They are clearly credible as a qualification but the universities themselves are not focused on coaching or coaching supervision as a profession and so students of these courses will ultimately still need to find a home in one of the professional bodies discussed above.
Institute of Leadership & Management
The final organisation to mention, from a UK perspective, is the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM). The ILM is a UK Awarding Body and manages the awarding of the Level 7 Certificate and Diploma in Coaching Supervision.
In this case, the course is designed as a qualification by the awarding body but delivered as a course by licensed delivery centres (private training companies) who evidence how they meet the requirements of the ILM.
The Level 7 Certifcate or Diploma is a formal qualification recognised and regulated by the UK Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
The ILM coaching supervision qualification is certainly an alternative to courses accredited by the professional coaching bodies discussed above but, as with the universities, participants of these courses often lack a wider framework and infrastructure for membership of a coaching body which advocates for, promotes and develops the profession.
What to look for in terms of accreditation when choosing a coaching supervision course
If you’ve read this far then congratulations as there’s a lot of information and links above and you could well have got lost down a rabbit hole!
Let me summarise the real key takeaways here of what you need to be looking for.
- If you’re looking for a practical, credible, quality course that’s going to help you become competent and confident then look for the EMCC ESQA. You really can’t go wrong with that. Each course has been through a robust accreditation process to ensure it meets the demands of the EMCC.
- If you’re an ICF credentialed coach then try to find a coaching supervision course that also has the ICF’s CCE approval. It makes sense to kill two birds with one stone! But ICF CCE alone is not enough. You will need to ensure you have EMCC ESQA or another accreditation.
- If you’re after a formal qualification rather than an accredited course, then consider the ILM or a university postgraduate course. Be aware that these do not always deliver the practical skills of coaching supervision in the training and can focus more on the theory during the teaching. But do your research and you’ll be fine!
I hope this has helped make sense of this complex and emerging area of accreditation within the coaching profession. Over the next few years we are likely to see more course and training providers emerging and so knowing what to look for will become vital as you choose your coaching supervision course.
Coaching Supervision Accreditation Table
|Organisation||Accreditation of Coaching Supervision Training||Accreditation of Individual Coaching Supervisors||Recognition of Supervision for Professional Credentials||Specific Coaching Supervision Competencies Identified|
|European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)||ESQA
European Supervision Quality Award
European Supervision Individual Award
Amount varies according to the level of individual accreditation sought.
|International Coach Federation
|CCE but not specific to coaching supervision||None||10 hours coaching supervision per year can be used towards renewal of credentials.||No|
|Association for Coaching (AC)||Coaching Supervision Training Accreditation
|Accredited Coaching Supervisor
Amount varies according to the level of individual accreditation sought.
2 replies on “Accreditation of Coaching Supervision: A Comparison of the Professional Coaching Bodies”
Thanks for this useful ’round up’ of accreditation status. Just to clarify the AoCS position re accreditation, from your text:
AoCS is the Association for Coaching Supervisors, the leading membership body for coaching supervisors (thanks for that!). However, it does not offer any accreditation programme and has chosen to focus on creating the community of coaching supervisors rather than a formal process of accreditation.
The main reason is that we are not a training school so don’t train any supervisors and therefore don’t accredit them, as the other providers do this already pretty well.
We felt that duplication was unnecessary so, whilst we may help their CPD by topping up our members knowledge and skills, we leave their active accreditation with their existing provider to manage.
So your last statement: ‘it does not offer any accreditation programme and has chosen to focus on creating the community of coaching supervisors rather than a formal process of accreditation’ is correct, although implies we have an informal accreditation process – we do not, as mentioned already.
For example, we have launched a ‘co-supervision space’ to encourage dialogue and deeper dives into supervisory topics, as a community service.
Hope that clarifies our position a little should you edit this content. Thanks.
Thanks so much Peter. Yes, it’s interesting how one adjective can change the meaning of a sentence. I will delete the word “formal” to avoid the suggestion that there is an informal version. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and clarify.