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‘Life Coach’ Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

August 15, 2012

Professional Coaches Express Gratitude for the Acknowledgement

ICF HEADQUARTERS CONTACTS: Lindsay Bodkin, +1.859.219.3550, lindsay.bodkin@coachfederation.org

‘Life Coach’ Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Professional Coaches Express Gratitude for the Acknowledgement

Lexington, Kentucky, USA – For the first time Tuesday, the word ‘life coach’ appeared in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. “I think it’s great,” says Michelle Hollingshead, President of the ICF Ohio Valley Chapter. Merriam-Webster picks about 100 additions for their annual update, by gathering evidence of frequently used words over several years. “I think it communicates the legitimacy and the timeliness of our services.” Hollingshead continued, “It’s great to get global recognition as a profession.”

In an economic age where more and more jobs are being cut, the coaching industry is growing. “The industry keeps growing because it’s meeting a societal need to make people more effective, satisfied and able to maximize their potential to help humanity flourish,” explains Dr. Damian Goldvarg, President-Elect of ICF’s Board of Directors. The first known usage of the word ‘life coach’ was in 1986 according to Merriam-Webster, but since then the professional coaching industry has exploded. The 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study* revealed there are 47,500 professional coaches worldwide bringing in a total annual income of nearly $2 billion. The growth in the professional coaching industry is one indication that coaching is an effective solution to the common economic struggles plaguing many companies today.

Major corporations have turned to coaching to improve their businesses, including IBM, Nike, Verizon and Coca-Cola Enterprises. Studies show that virtually all companies or individuals who hire a coach are satisfied. According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study (2009), a stunning 99% of people who were polled said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the overall experience.

A key differentiator for the industry is that coaching is seen as an “action plan” rather than an exploratory process. Coaching has become a significant trend in leadership development because it increases productivity, empowers employees, and provides a return on investment (ROI). Professional coaching explicitly targets maximizing potential and in doing this unlocks latent sources of productivity and effectiveness. At the heart of coaching is a creative and thought-provoking process that supports individuals to confidently pursue new ideas and alternative solutions with greater resilience in the face of growing complexity and uncertainty.

The International Coach Federation is the leading global organization for coaches, with over 18,000 members in more than 100 countries and over 8,000 credentialed coaches worldwide. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. Coaching is a distinct service and differs greatly from therapy, consulting, mentoring, or training. ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. For more information, please visit our website at www.coachfederation.org.


** The 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study and the ICF Global Coaching Client Study (2009) were commissioned by ICF but conducted independently by the International Survey Unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Full copies of the studies are available upon request.

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