ICF Mentor Coaching: Everything You Need to Know

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ICF Mentor Coaching: Everything You Need to Know

What is mentor coaching and why is it necessary to achieve your ICF certification?

By Lucia Baldelli

As a Coach myself, I have discovered the power of mentor coaching when I was working on my ICF credentials. I could not have imagined the power of partnering with someone fully focused on my growth. Mentor coaching is not just a step towards achieving a credential; it’s an incredible experience that sharpens your coaching skills and your understanding of coaching. I like to think of a Mentor Coach as a ‘Sensei’, Japanese term to describe “he or she who has gone before me”. That’s because my Mentor Coaches have been guides who had already walked the path I was on and helped me navigate it with wisdom and insight. A Sensei is neither better than us nor superior, just a few years ahead in our journey. A Sensei can see mistakes we might not even appreciate. A Sensei was the only way for me to grow when techniques and tools could not elevate my coaching any further. Whether you’re working with individuals, teams, or organisations, a Mentor Coach is not just there to help you tick off a requirement, but to enhance your coaching practice and amplify your impact. In this article, I hope to shed some light on what mentor coaching is, including its purpose, and some tips to choose the best Mentor Coach for you.

What is mentor coaching?

Mentor coaching is a cornerstone of professional development in the coaching industry, and a requirement for those seeking an ICF certification.

The ICF defines mentor coaching as “coaching and feedback in a collaborative dialogue, based on an observed or recorded coaching session, which aims to enhance the Coach’s skills in alignment with the ICF Core Competencies”. Mentor coaching with an ICF credentialed coach is a mandatory requirement in the ICF credentialing process.

But it is not just that.

At Coaching Outside the Box, we view it as a vital partnership, where an aspiring Coach dedicates themself to growth, supported by a Mentor Coach who is fully invested in their success.

While practice, study, and training are important for a Coach’s development, they can’t take you too far. Partnering with a Mentor Coach is essential to elevate your skills to the next level and amplifying the impact you make on those you coach.

Whether you’re aiming for an ICF credential or simply looking to refine your craft, mentor coaching unlocks your potential, enhances your expertise, and boosts your confidence.

You are invited to join our FREE ‘Coaching Dojo’ to practice in a safe space and get feedback on your skills by our ICF Certified Mentor Coaches.

  • Start Date: 22/07
  • End Date: 22/07

What is ICF mentor coaching?

ICF mentor coaching is an integral part of the journey towards earning an ICF credential, designed to improve a Coach’s abilities in alignment with the ICF Core Competencies, Code of Ethics and PCC markers.

It is a structured program of both group and individual mentorship, with at least 10 contact hours (a minimum of 3 hours being individual sessions). This ensures sharp focus on your coaching and personalised feedback to support your growth.

According to the ICF requirements, these sessions must take place in a time frame of at least 3 months to ensure that the Coach has time to digest the learning and feedback from each session to improve their practice.

While obtaining these mentor coaching hours is a critical requirement for certification, the benefits of this process go far beyond credentialing: let’s see how.

Purpose and benefits of mentor coaching

ICF mentor coaching is a solid framework designed to elevate your coaching practice to its highest potential: it’s like having a trusted partner who also happens to be a pro at whatever skill you are trying to develop. Seriously, it’s a game-changer!

And here’s why:

  • Guidance – Mentor coaching gives you someone experienced to guide you through whatever you’re trying to do. They’ve been there, done that, and can show you the ropes.
  • Professional Competency – Mentor coaching gives the support you need to obtain and demonstrate the coaching competencies and capabilities essential for your desired credential level.
  • Ethical Development – Engaging with a mentor helps reinforce ethical practices within your coaching, aligning with the ICF’s high standards.
  • Boost Confidence – Having a dedicated partner you will build your self-confidence. You will work together to overcome your weaknesses, so that you get personalised support to become a better version of yourself as a professional!
  • Honest Feedback – Your Mentor Coach will tell you what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. It’s like having a mirror that gives you authentic reflections.
  • Networking – Your Mentor Coach might introduce you to other people in their network, which can open new opportunities for you.
  • Accountability– Your Mentor Coach keeps you on track. They help you stick to your goals and make sure you’re not slacking off.
  • Knowledge Expansion – Your mentor’s insights help you broaden your knowledge base, making you a more well-rounded Coach.
  • Integrity and Standards – By adhering to the ICF core competencies and ethical guidelines, mentor coaching maintains the integrity of the profession and sets ICF credentialed coaches apart.
  • Personal Growth: Working with a mentor can help you grow not just in skills, but also as a person. You’ll learn how to handle challenges and grow from them.

Through mentor coaching you can expect not just to improve your coaching skills, but also develop your ethics, expand your knowledge, gain insights, meet top industry standards, grow as a professional but also personally.

To be honest, this will require work! Mentor coaching is not just a relationship that lasts a number of hours, but requires commitment to practice with peers and real clients to embed the learning in your practice.

What ICF credentialing paths need mentor coaching?

Mentor coaching is a non-negotiable step for those who want to achieve an ICF credential. Here’s a rundown of the paths that require mentor coaching:

  • ACC Portfolio
  • PCC ACSTH (Level 1)
  • PCC Portfolio
  • MCC Portfolio
  • ACC Renewal

While Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 ICF-accredited programs typically include mentor coaching within their curricula, it’s crucial to verify the specific requirements for the credential you’re pursuing.

Regardless of the path you choose, remember that your mentor coaching must be completed before your ICF application sees the light of day.

Are you unclear about the difference between different credentials or paths and need guidance? You are invited to join our next free session and ask your questions to our ICF credentialed coaches!

  • Start Date: 08/07
  • End Date: 08/07

ICF mentor coaching: requirements by credential

Diving deeper into the world of ICF mentor coaching, it’s essential to understand that the requirements vary by credential. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to pursue an MCC credential, knowing what’s expected for your certification will guide your journey.

Let’s unpack what each ICF credential demands in terms of mentor coaching.

ACC Credential

If you’re taking the ACC ACSTH or Portfolio path, you’re required to engage in 10 hours of mentor coaching before you can submit your application.

These hours should be spread across a minimum of 3 months to ensure you have adequate time to reflect and grow from each session. For instance, if you start on March 14th, your mentorship should extend to at least June 14th or beyond.

Out of these 10 hours, at least 3 must be individual sessions with your Mentor Coach, while the remaining seven can also be in a group. This is your choice.

It’s also crucial that your Mentor Coach holds a valid ACC (already gone through at least one renewal), PCC, or MCC credential, so you know you’re learning from someone who has successfully navigated the path you’re on.

For those on the ACC Level 1/Level 2/ACTP path, mentor coaching is already included into your program.

PCC Credential

If you’re pursuing your PCC through the Level 1 / ACSTH or Portfolio paths, you’ll need to complete 10 hours of mentor coaching. A minimum of 3 hours must be dedicated to individual sessions with your Mentor Coach.

This mentorship should span at least 3 months, giving you ample time to absorb and apply your insights.

Remember, your mentor should hold either a PCC or MCC credential to ensure they have the depth of experience needed to guide you effectively.

For those on the PCC Level 2/ACTP path, your education program has mentor coaching included in its curriculum.

MCC Credential

For those embarking on the MCC Portfolio path, mentor coaching remains a pivotal requirement. You’ll need to engage in 10 hours of mentor coaching, specifically for this credential—previous hours used for other credentials won’t count. A minimum of 3 hours must be individual sessions with your Mentor Coach.

This mentorship must be spread over at least 3 months to ensure a thorough and reflective learning process.

It’s essential that your Mentor Coach holds a valid MCC credential to provide the advanced level of insight and feedback necessary at this stage.

For those following the MCC Level 3 path, your program will include the required mentor coaching, setting you on a seamless path to your goal.

ACC Renewal

For coaches seeking to renew their Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential, additional mentor coaching is mandatory.

You are required to complete 10 more hours of mentor coaching beyond what was necessary for your initial credential. And at least 3 of the 10 hours should be individual sessions.

These hours should be spread over the 3 years following the award of your ACC credential or since your last renewal.

Like other paths, this mentorship needs to span a minimum of 3 months.

Importantly, your chosen Mentor Coach must hold a valid ACC, PCC, or MCC credential, ensuring that they have the expertise and experience to guide you effectively through your continued growth as a Coach.

You are invited to join our FREE ‘Coaching Dojo’ to practice in a safe space and get feedback on your skills by our ICF certified mentor coaches.

  • Start Date: 22/07
  • End Date: 22/07

The role of a Mentor Coach: duties and responsibilities

The role of a Mentor Coach, as outlined by the ICF in collaboration with the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO), is crucial in the professional development of coaches.

A Mentor Coach is responsible for guiding mentees through the initiation and contracting of client relationships, setting clear goals and success measures, and establishing a transparent mentoring agreement covering fees, timeframes, and other key aspects.

Their primary duty is to enhance core competency development by reviewing coaching sessions and providing detailed feedback that allows for continuous improvement.

In every interaction, a Mentor Coach must adhere to the ICF’s high standards and competencies, offering support and feedback with empathy and clarity. A Mentor Coach listens on multiple levels — physical, intellectual, emotional, and intuitive —and respects differences in style, culture, and language.

They create a safe space for delivering feedback and demonstrate their learning about the mentee’s unique style and aspirations.

Effective Mentor Coaches are experts in coaching practices, strong communication skills to articulate feedback constructively, and the empathy to understand and support the mentee’s journey.

What is covered in ICF mentor coaching?

There are several approaches to mentor coaching, and all are effective for different reasons, as we will see in a moment.

In ICF mentor coaching, the journey typically starts with setting learning goals aligned with the ICF Core Competencies, which form the backbone of the mentorship, guiding both partners towards targeted improvements.

During this process, Mentor Coaches create an environment where mentees can identify their strengths and areas that require further development. This reflective practice is crucial as it allows coaches to concentrate their efforts effectively.

Mentor Coaches employ a variety of tools and techniques to help mentees, including action planning and reflective questioning. They may also use coaching demonstrations to provide clear examples of high-quality coaching in action. By reviewing recorded coaching sessions, Mentor Coaches can offer precise feedback, celebrating what works well and advising on aspects that can be enhanced.

Whether in group settings or individual sessions, mentor coaching is tailored to nurture the Coach’s ability to self-reflect, set actionable goals, and progressively refine their practice with ongoing support.

Individual or group mentor coaching? Types and options

Mentor coaching can be tailored to suit different learning styles and needs, offering a variety of formats that are effective for different reasons.

Here are the primary types of mentor coaching.

  • Individual: this approach is targeted to your unique needs and allows for personalised feedback on recorded sessions you bring to the table. This is the approach I have found the most effective for more advanced credentials.
  • Group: These sessions leverage discussions as an opportunity to learn in a group setting. They can be structured as live coaching demonstrations, followed by a round of feedback from both the Mentor Coach and peers OR as a debrief of a recorded coaching session. I find the latter more effective because of the opportunity to pause the recording in crucial moments of the conversation to debrief what just happened.

Remember that only groups with 10 participants or fewer will count towards the ICF mentoring requirement!

Whether you opt for individual sessions, group learning, or a combination of both, each approach is designed to refine your skills and advance your coaching journey within the ICF framework.

10-Hour ICF Approved Mentor Coaching

Need help with Group Mentor Coaching? Our approach to mentor coaching is tailored for you: we will delve into what you need to be an exceptional coach and work together to make this happen.

We will take a close look at the skills emerging from your recorded coaching sessions: we will examine every question and identify every valuable element to emphasise your strengths, and your opportunities to grow. You will gain amazing insights into how to coach more effectively.

We are happy to partner with you and help you succeed!

  • Start Date: 19/11
  • End Date: 17/12

Difference between Mentor Coaching and Coach Supervision

Understanding the distinction between mentor coaching and supervision is crucial.

  • Mentor coaching focuses on honing your coaching skills, celebrating your strengths, and addressing areas where you can stretch and grow. It’s about deepening your proficiency in line with the ICF Core Competencies to amplify the impact of your coaching.
  • Coach supervision examines your overall practice, considering interventions, ethics, and how you handle specific client cases. It’s a reflective process that looks at the impact of your work on clients and your development as a Professional Coach.

Think of mentor coaching as a way to refine your technique, like an waterpolo player working on their style, while supervision is more about reviewing game strategies and their effectiveness. Both are essential but serve distinct roles in your journey.

How to find a Mentor Coach

Finding the right Mentor Coach means selecting a partner for a transformative journey.

I have found all my Mentor Coaches through word of mouth, and had an informal chat with them to make sure there was chemistry and we shared the same values. I was also curious to know the format of their session to check if it was something that tickled my desire to learn.

I have worked with different mentors throughout my career because I wanted to be exposed to different styles, and my own signature is a blend of what I have learned from all of them.

My advice is to reach out to your network for recommendations and ask for an informal meeting before you begin a mentor coaching relationship. Ask questions like, “Can you describe your mentoring approach?” or “How do you tailor your mentorship to meet specific developmental needs?” to ensure your expectations will be met.

Alternatively, ICF also holds a registry of Mentor Coaches where each listed Mentor Coach has agreed to adhere to ICF’s definition of mentor coaching and best practices, with many having pursued advanced training. Joining this registry is optional.

Having an ICF Mentor Coach is not a golden ticket to credential success, but ensures the quality of the engagement and the mutual commitment to growth.


To help you navigate the journey of mentor coaching with ease, here is a list of frequently asked questions we have been asked.

How many coaching hours are required for ICF credentials?

To meet the International Coaching Federation’s standards for professional credentials, aspiring coaches are required to complete a total of 10 hours of mentor coaching.

What does an ICF Mentor Coach do?

An ICF Mentor Coach plays a pivotal role in the professional development of an aspiring Coach. They provide professional assistance, share their experience, and guide you through the complexities of coaching practice. Their work is in strict alignment with the ICF’s core competencies and ethical standards, ensuring that they not only support your growth but also your adherence to ICF standards.

Who can offer mentor coaching?

While technically anyone with coaching experience could serve as a mentor, a Mentor Coach guiding you towards an ICF credential must hold an active ICF credential at the same or higher level than the one you’re seeking — except for ACC credentials, which require the mentor to have completed their renewal process at least once.

What are mentor coaching fees?

Mentor coaching fees can vary widely, depending largely on the mentor’s level of experience, their coaching credentials, and other factors such as the format of the mentorship (individual or group sessions) and the duration of the program. Some mentors may also offer package deals or sliding scale fees to accommodate different budgets.

What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Coaching and mentoring, while often used interchangeably, have distinct differences. Coaching is typically a structured process focused on achieving specific, immediate goals. A Coach does not necessarily need to have expertise in the client’s topic. On the other hand, mentoring involves a longer-term relationship where a mentor provides guidance, wisdom, and support, drawing from their own experience and knowledge in the same field as the mentee.

ICF mentor coaching: documentation requirements

When applying for an ICF credential you’ll need to provide details about your mentor coaching experience on the online application, including the name and email address of each Mentor Coach, their credential level, and the start and end dates of your mentoring engagement. Additionally, you’ll record the number of hours spent with each mentor. While you aren’t required to submit detailed documentation from your Mentor Coach, they should be prepared to verify that the mentorship occurred as reported.

When should you complete your mentor coaching hours?

Your mentor coaching journey should be spread out over a minimum of 3 months. This period is designed to facilitate a cycle of learning, where you can receive feedback from your Mentor Coach and then have enough time to integrate insights into your practice. This fosters effective growth and skill development for the Coach.

How to submit the mentor coaching documentation?

To ensure your mentor coaching documentation is properly submitted, you’ll need to enter your mentoring log directly into the online application system provided by ICF. The online process is the only accepted method to verify your mentor coaching hours.

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