This week I decided to press the button on becoming a Chartered Coaching Psychologist. The process will take a while, but I've hunted out an academic supervisor who will also act as my mentor through the process and I am really excited!
I thought I would write a little bit about it, as lots of my coaching friends have been curious and have asked lots of questions. So, here's a quick canter through some of the questions that have come up...
Yes, I know... technically, I don't need additional badges for my coaching practice, but becoming a psychologist has been a bit of a childhood dream for me. My undergraduate was in Psychology and it has informed my entire career. I've worked in assessment centres, drug treatment and addiction clinics, prisons and probation and then in a number of roles creating systemic change through behavioural nudge theory and in all of that time, my initial academic foundation has enabled me to do good things. My coaching practice has always had a psychological foundation and this just feels like a natural progression. I still absolutely intend to maintain my International Coaching Federation (ICF) Credential and work towards that esteemed Master Certified Coach standard, but getting the Psychologist title is just too tempting!
For me, it's also about future proofing. Currently, coaching is a self-regulated industry. Should that change, I know that having a post graduate qualification in coaching, an internationally recognised credential with ICF and Chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS) should mean I'll continue to be eligible to practise no matter what!
Aren't you already a coaching psychologist?
Nope. In the UK, there hasn't really been such a thing until very recently. I've held Graduate Member Status with the BPS for a while, and us coaches were served through a Special Interest Group. You can become a Chartered Clinical, Occupational or Sports Psychologist, but there wasn't a formal route for those of us who chose coaching as our preferred method of applied psychology. I was interested for a while in becoming a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, but this covers lots of things outside of coaching and therefore felt like it could be a distraction.
In November 2021, the Coaching Special Interest Group was elevated to Divisional status, allowing BPS to create formal pathways to Chartered status for Coaching Psychologists. The first full divisional members are those who were already Chartered Psychologists in other disciplines, who have since specialised in Coaching. These trailblazers are now supporting the next wave of people eligible to join.
What will it involve?
A lot of work! My submission date is not until the end of 2023, and between now and then, I'll need to generate a portfolio which will be assessed by the team at BPS to see if I make the grade. One requirement which is a particular challenge for me is Standard 4, a piece of empirical research on Coaching Psychology. The research (and portfolio more generally) needs to demonstrate Level 8 Standards in Coaching Psychology which is Doctoral level. Whilst I do sit on the board of a University, teach on a post grad and work through a couple of higher education institutes, I am not an academic and so this terrifies me slightly. I've always been the kind of person who applies the theory rather than writes the theory! I've been assured by my Supervisor that the challenge is attainable with focus and hard work and I shall therefore do my very best!
In addition to the research piece, I need to demonstrate the psychological focus of my coaching since qualifying as an Executive Coach in 2017, have supervision with a Chartered Coaching Psychologist and evidence CPD, practice and supervision hours in the 5 years prior to my submission date. I'm conscious I don't want to go into lots of detail about all of the Standards and evidence requirements here as they may change, and I therefore recommend checking out the BPS website to get the most up to date guidance.
The big deal breaker for most of the people that I've spoken to, is that whilst many of us have some pretty fancy qualifications in coaching, we also need Graduate Membership of BPS. This means having a BPS recognised degree in Psychology. There are many degrees in Psychology, not all of them are BPS recognised, so check with your university if you're not sure.
How can I do it too?
If you have a BPS recognised psychology degree, then you too could be eligible for the accelerated or professional recognition route. Check out the flowchart generated by BPS to see if you might be eligible.
For those who are keen, but don't yet have Graduate Membership of BPS, there will be Master and Doctoral level pathways opening up soon.
Will it change your coaching style?
The honest answer to this is, I am not sure. My practice has always been psychologically informed, and I'll still be me, so I am thinking it will add a little extra for me and for my clients. I'll let them be the judge of that!
As always, thanks for stopping by...