The great coaching accreditation and supervision debate

Written by Stuart Haden on November 10, 2015

Being a coach who undergoes supervision and has an accredited qualification are certainly indicators of quality. However, I am neither accredited or undergo supervision (in the traditional sense). My coach training began in 2001, this was before accreditation gained any real recognition. In 2005 I looked at accrediting my coaching practice to date. One supplier offered me their premium accreditation route, which culminated in a dissertation. However, I had already completed this mean feat during my MSc in Human Resources. Another supplier would require a 2,000 word philosophy on coaching. Again I had beaten them to it, as I was just about to publish my first book on coaching (70,000 words?!). I had also logged 200+ hours of training and 900+ hours of coaching. My path was blocked, spending money to justify my previous activity seems a waste of time.

A large proportion of my work involves running workshops. Nobody has ever asked me if I’m accredited to do so, and whether I undergo supervision. There are times in my career when I have had supervisor. And there are times such as now when I don’t. This does not mean I abdicate from continuing professional development. Quite the opposite I believe that my coaching supervision is supported by the colleagues, podcasts, conferences and books etc around me. Indeed, I am more of a contributor to coaching knowledge than I am a receiver given the publication of my book in 2013.

Accreditation and supervision can be well-meaning, and they can be money making initiatives. Ultimately, I think accreditation and supervision aren’t always relevant because…

1) coaching is not a high risk activity so accreditation and supervision do not need to be followed to the letter of the law.

2) there are too many coaching bodies in existence, so why should we commit to one of these and not the other.

Coaches work with individuals to develop high performance. So my favourite indicator for coaches is – what do you do that can be classed as optimal performance? It doesn’t need to be work related but it does need to be something that is performed at high levels. We need to be a ‘jack of all trades but master of ONE‘. Oh and don’t get me started on coaching ethics, do we really need a piece of paper to guide our behaviours?