10 Tips to be Successful in your Coaching Recording for the ICF

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Submitting your recording for assessment with the ICF? Then have a read through some of our top tips. As an ICF provider we have supported many coaches obtain their ACC or PCC credentials however there's a few things you should bear in mind. We share these with you in this article.


A major part of your application towards a credential with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the submission of a performance evaluation. Essentially this is a recorded coaching session that the ICF would assess in line of the markers for the level you applying for (ACC, PCC or MCC).

As a provider of ICF Coaching Programmes and as Coach Mentors we have supported many individuals obtain their ICF Credential. So in this post we share some tips to help you be successful in meeting the ICF requirements.

Tip 1: Learn to Coach in line with the ICF Competencies. This might sound like a straightforward one, however it is key that your coaching fully reflects the ICF Competencies, Code of Ethics and Values. Thus make sure that you practice and are confident in coaching with these guidelines. A robust training programme, like our Diploma in Integrative Coaching will help with this. Similarly mentoring that is specifically tailored towards these Competencies will help tremendously.

Tip 2: Choose a Client who is not a Coach. Although there are some exceptions, choose a client who is not a coach. Other coaches are trained in the competencies you are trying to showcase and thus it might limit your ability to demonstrate the required skills. ICF Assessors will be looking for proactive evidence that you are meeting these competencies, and if the person who you are coaching might engage in a lot of ‘self-coaching’ this could limit your overall score.

Tip 3: Don’t choose a first or last session with a Client. Choose a session where you have built trust with a client and where you are in the full flow of coaching. Usually the first session will have more extensive agreements and discussion around coaching practice. The last session might focus more actively on closing the coaching programme. As such we would not recommend submitting these. Instead focus on ones in the middle of a coaching programme.

Tip 4: Focus on both the ‘Who’ and the ‘What’ of Coaching. Even though clients might bring in a very practical challenge it is important that as a coach you explore both the ‘what’ (the challenge itself) but also be attentive to the ‘Who’. The ‘Who’ refers to the client’s values, beliefs, their whole personality, ways of thinking and feeling and what matters to them.

Tip 5: Create a Partnership. Remember that the ICF defines coaching as a partnership and this needs to be evidence across the entire session. Partner with the client to start the session (e.g. ‘Where would you like to start today?), middle (e.g. ‘Where shall we go from here?) and the end (e.g. ‘How would you like to close our session today?’) Getting the client involved in agreements, next steps, progress and accountability measures is key.

Tip 6: Notice the Timing of your Session. The ICF will automatically reject sessions that are over an hour. Aim for a session that is around 45-50 minutes. In this case if you’re a little bit over then you don’t run the risk of going over an hour. Avoid submitting a session that is less that about 40 minutes as it can be hard to evidence the Competencies in a shorter session.

Tip 7: Record a few Sessions. Don’t go into a session thinking, ‘I am going to record this for my ACC!’ because it can make you more nervous. Record a number of sessions (we suggest recording one session per client so that you have a variety) and then choosing one that you feel matches the ICF Competencies the most.

Tip 8: Support the Client be Clear on their Outcome. Although sessions can be exploratory make sure that you have spent time at the start of the session to explore what the client would like to focus on. On top of that we suggest that you explore the importance of this goal with the client and how they will recognise they are making progress towards this outcome during the session.

Tip 9: Support Accountability Measures. Make sure that you leverage the learning that the client is experiencing during the session into reflections or actions following the session. Questions such as ‘What are you learning?’ followed by ‘How can this learning help you outside of this session?’ are helpful in exploring this.

Tip 10: You don’t have to be Perfect. ICF Assessors know that what they are looking for is not perfection! Knowing this should help with the nerves when you are recording. Study, prepare for your recordings, get mentoring and practice your coaching but don’t forget – coaching is an art rather than a perfect skill.

We have supported many coaches obtain their ICF Credentials through our highly reviewed ICF Diploma in Integrative Coaching. Coaches have shared how we have helped not only their development into ICF Coaches but also supported them explore, discover and grow their own self-awareness bringing a truly holistic development.

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