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What is the ICF and how does it relate to clean coaching?

ICF stands for International Coaching Federation, a leading global organisation for coaches
and coaching. The ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high
standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of trained
coaching professionals.

The ICF defines coaching as: “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative
process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The
process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity
and leadership.”

The ICF has developed a set of eight ‘Core Competencies’ which define the kinds of
behaviours coaches need to adopt, both within coaching sessions, and within their coaching
practice. These competencies also form the basis of the accreditation process. They are
listed here.

Our own ICF-accredited course is based on Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling which
are a good fit with ICF definition and the Core Competencies. The essence of coaching is to
guide someone to generate their own ideas, their own conclusions and their own action
plans for achieving their goals. And learning to be a coach is about learning to listen, to keep
your own opinions to yourself and to ask questions to elicit ideas from the client. Clean
Language provides a clear and structured way to do this and enables coaches to be sure that
they do not inadvertently lead the client by paraphrasing what they say or asking questions
that have their own worldview embedded in them. Instead, they utilise the client’s own
words and ask questions that have been stripped of assumptions, as far as that is possible.
When coaches do not introduce (even accidentally) their own content, Clean Language
limits distractions which means the client has little choice but to work with who they are
and to find the resources they need within themselves.

Clean Language is neutral and can be used well with any kind of client language (including
non-verbal) – and when it is used to develop clients’ autogenic (self-generated) metaphors
(e.g. I want to find my path; I’m going round in circles; I want to find out what’s holding me
back) it gives them access to their own unconscious embodied wisdom. This respectful
attention to the deep structure of their experience, without any expectation (from the
coach) that change will occur is – paradoxically - a very effective way to foster the
conditions for change to occur quite naturally from within the client’s system. Circles can
straighten out, new paths can be created where there were none and what was once
holding someone back can become a resource for moving forward.

Our mission for being an ICF accredited coach education provider is to bring this clean
perspective more into the field of coaching and in turn to have the clean field benefit from
the rigour and professionalism of the ICF. We want to bring Clean Language & Symbolic
Modelling into the mainstream of coaching as a recognised coaching method via our robust
training programme and ICF accreditation.

Our programme is intended for those who want to develop professionally as coaches or
who want to develop a coaching style of management / leadership. It is for anyone who
wants to work with change processes in a dynamic way, including leaders, HR specialists,
consultants, entrepreneurs, and anyone who works with people for development and

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