We are all COACHING AMBASSADORS and that means we represent our profession to the public. It is our responsibility to use the correct language about who we are. This dictionary clarifies many concepts often misunderstood.

COACHING is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.


Upon graduation from a school or program you receive a certificate. This certificate is given when you have successfully completed training.


A credential is given by an association such as ICF and requires:

  1. training (ACC= 60 hours); (PCC= 125 hours); (MCC= 200 hours)
  2. coaching experience (a minimum number of hours coaching clients) ACC=100, PCC = 500, MCC = 2500
  3. number of clients ACC= 8; PCC = 25; MCC = 35
  4. mentoring – 10 hours
  5. an on-line coach knowledge assessment test only taken once

For those students who graduate from SUN, all you need to provide the ICF to comply with the training and mentoring requirement is our certificate of completion. As part of our curriculum we require that you work with at least 3 clients, so you will have accrued some coaching experience. How much more is up to you.


ACTP Accreditation is awarded to programs that meet the ICF professional standards of coach training. ACTP (Accredited Coach Training Programs) offer a minimum of 125 hours of coach-specific training. Our trainers, curriculum, methodology, etc. have undergone close scrutiny to ensure that we meet or surpass all standards. A school or program such as SUN is not accredited, only specific programs within. Our SUN Coach Training and Certification Program is accredited and any of the modules within are also accredited, such as Learning Life Purpose or Ethics and Standards.


There is another form of ICF approval for training.

ACSTH (Approved Coach Specific Training Hours) is awarded to ICF-approved programs of 30+ hours of coach-specific training.

CCE (Continuing Coach Education) is awarded to ICF-approved programs of 1-29 hours.

40 hours of CCEs are required every 3 years to maintain your credential.

3 hours of Ethics Training is required every 3 years to renew a credential.


Ethics are rules that identify minimal standards of conduct created by a profession (coaching), credentialing organizations (e.g., ICF), and Professional Membership Organizations (e.g., ICF).

Laws are created, adopted and enforced by governmental bodies (legislators and elected officials) to protect the public by defining who can provide services and have a title.

COACH MENTORING and SUPERVISION – distinctions under discussion

Mentoring is sometimes used to refer to services dealing with appraising and enhancing core coaching competencies.

Supervision often includes mentoring as well as other forms of support in all aspects of being a coach such as: the coaching business, marketing, deepening coaching presence, personal development etc.

A PROFESSIONAL COACHING RELATIONSHIP includes a contract/agreement defining responsibilities between client and coach (and sponsor) if appropriate, such as a 3rd party involved in arranging/paying for services, e.g., a boss or HR Department in business or a parent/surrogate.