by David Papini
For sure, I am Italian, 100% Italian. My paternal genealogy shows my ancestors established in a village near Florence, Tuscany since the end of the sixteenth century, and my maternal one comes from Certaldo, the same village that gave birth in 1313 to Giovanni Boccaccio, a famous poet and writer born eight years after the death of Dante Alighieri. However, when it comes to perceiving myself as a coach, the proud Italian identity tends to fade.
Here is why: since I joined IAC five years ago, I have been working mainly with coaches outside my mother country. I attended Julia Stewart’s School of Coaching Mastery and began working with clients and buddy coaches over Skype. Later on, I discovered Reciprocoach International and I was a coach and coachee with Australian, Spanish, North American, and British clients and coaches. Until earlier this year, I was translating the Reciprocoach website in Italian, aiming to offer Italian coaches the same opportunity English speaking coaches have been enjoying the last ten years. At that point, I realized I did not know much about my own country coaching status. What I knew was that in Italy, it was very difficult to do sessions over the phone or Skype because clients have difficulties perceiving them as valuable as the ones in person (luckily this is slowly evolving). As one of the two (at the time) IAC members in Italy (and the only one who spoke in the Italian mother tongue) I felt, naively I admit, like a pioneer…
Last year, when the ICF Global Study 2012 came out I decided to look at the Italian numbers, to have a less subjective idea of what was going on in Italy about coaches. According to those numbers, the ratio between world population and number of coaches worldwide is 0,0021% (that is, a coach for every 147,973 inhabitants), 0,0056% (one coach for 23,190 inhabitants) in western Europe and 0,3145% in Italy (a coach for every 187,748 citizens). Doing the proportion between Italy and North America or the whole Western Europe and weighing it against their population over the one worldwide, the number of coaches in Italy should be between 800 and 1300. This was the “should be” number.
Now I needed to know how many coaches actually were in Italy: the 214 respondents to the ICF study or the 294 who responded in 2011 to an ICF Italy chapter’s survey or the 320 who were surveyed for the ninth Italian Coaching Conference in March 2012 were not the concrete numbers I was looking for. Another statistic I found (and settled with for now) was the number of coaches associated with the three professional associations in Italy: ICF (328), IAC (6) and AICP (a local association, with 74 members). In the end, my best guess is that in Italy we have between 400 and 500 coaches, well below the rest of the world trend. Moreover, among these, when I did the research there were only 7 MCC, 79 ACC and 36 PCC, meaning that certification and credentialing has also a long way to go! The Italian ICF Chapter is doing a lot of work (check out the upcoming Coaching Expo 2013 this month) to support the growth of the profession, which, apart from the numbers, has also other challenges.
One is about geography: 35% of coaches are a single Italian region, Lombardy and mainly in the Milan area (meaning that the number I gave before are much better in the north and worst in the rest of the country).
Another one is about the profession itself: most of the Italian coaches work as consultants to companies so their clients are mainly businesses (I guess because that’s where money is supposed to be☺), while coaching to individuals or different niches outside the corporate world are way less developed.
Three other challenges relate more directly to myself:
My learning agreement for this year reflects these (well, not the Dante and Boccaccio thing, for now ☺) so hope I’ll be able to write about good news for coaching in Italy in the near future.
David Papini, coach, counselor, trainer, public speaker and executive, is the founder of Alzaia (http://alzaia.net), a system he use to helps clients to explore their life experience, getting what they really want, witnessing how tough and creative a relationship can be, growing and learning, co-creating experience on the fly.