The need for protected titles in coaching, mentoring and supervision
A protected title (plural protected titles) is a title or job description that can only legally be used by persons who have completed a specific training course and/or are members of a particular trade association. The benefit to the public of a protected title is that they can be sure an individual who uses the title has met the regulator's requirements for registration and is a bona fide professional. A protected title is therefore of high value to all parties.
From my understanding the profession of coaching has grown globally over the years. The EMCC, whom I am an accredited member, certainly has accreditation criteria, evidence based competencies and ethical standards. This is great, however, not every member is accredited, neither is it a requirement for membership (only for accreditation) - an interesting paradox. Coaching supervision is part of the accreditation criteria with the EMCC, however this is not true for the ICF, where it is just a recommendation. Supervision is a form of continuing professional development.
The other contradiction is that the term ‘coach’ is not itself a protected title, so anyone could refer to themselves as a coach. This individual could have no training, or they could have a 12 month advanced diploma. The moral onus is on the individual, and in this get rich quick world, a lot of individuals may happily call themselves a coach with zero training and no qualms. And in essence, relative to how they practice, these individuals can give coaching a bad reputation.
If there is no consensus, with the title ‘coach’, how can the general public consciously differentiate between coaches? And how can coaching be viewed as a profession without this coherence amongst all those that call themselves a coach? Those who would hire professionals who do not need, nor have, a government regulated license to practice, must do their own due diligence as to the competency, and reputation of the coach they hire.
In my opinion, the professional coaching bodies should serve to raise professional visibility to the public. How could this be done, without also raising the need for a protection of the title I am not sure, it would need to be a pre-requisite. Alongside this, they could also make compelling arguments for coaches to pass minimum standards for certification and maintain credentials through continuing education, and monitored supervision. For true evolution, and for coaching to be deemed a profession there needs to be a more dramatic shift, which is coherent across all boards. I am left with a curiosity to why is hasn’t happened yet.