Dr Mark Setch shares insights into global boom in coaching profession

By Barry de Silva
Dr Mark Setch profile picture
Since 2019, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has seen a 54 per cent rise in coaches. Dr Mark Setch is ACAP’s Coordinator for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coaching and one of only 40 master certified coaches in Australia. Dr Setch was recently presented with the Andrew Little Teaching Excellence Award for his passion for teaching and dedication to his students. Dr Setch explained his role as a coach, how he supports students, and why the coaching profession is “one of the world’s fastest growing industries”.

Having spent time as an accountant in the Australian Government’s National Audit Office, a Ministry Team Leader within the Peace Christian Community, and a Director of Training for Neurocoaching Australia, Dr Setch has applied the knowledge and experience he has gained to his role as a leading coach in Australia and as an educator at ACAP.

"Coaching is about collaboration with people, and the skillset involved is very similar to a therapist where the coach is present, listening and asking people questions they’re not asking themselves, so they gain a greater awareness of the capacity that they will have." - Dr Mark Setch

“They could be a mature age student at ACAP who hasn’t studied for a long time and as a result feels nervous, or a CEO of a large organisation managing the complexities and challenges there, or a former soldier who needs to transition back to civilian life all those people have a common need to gain a greater awareness of the power they have within themselves.”

In the 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study, a 54 per cent increase in coaches was reported, resulting in over 100,000 practitioners worldwide. As one of only 40 ICF master certified coaches in Australia and one of 800 globally, Dr Setch gave insights into the industry and the reasons for its rapid rise. 

Coaching is still a relatively new profession which started in the 1980s, with the ICF coming into existence in 1995. The rise in wellness coaching over the last four years has been phenomenal. The line between coaching and counselling therapy isn’t as defined as it once was, so there are now several new niches in coaching such as relationship coaching and ADHD coaching,” he explained.

“Since COVID, there are a whole number of mental health challenges that have developed. Research from academic therapists has affirmed that coaching can be equally as successful as counselling or therapy where low level mental health issues prevail, the caveat being that well trained coaches are adopted. In my work, a lot of my clients are on medication for anxiety and depression, so we can use the coaching space because of the depth it offers in complementing counselling that’s the reason we’re seeing a growth in the industry.”

With ACAP’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Coaching and Coaching Minor offered within the Bachelor of Counselling being one of only two tertiary coaching qualifications in Australia that have received the gold standard from the ICF, Dr Setch expressed how significant it is for prospective coaching students seeking a higher education qualification. 

"I always tell people who are looking to gain a coaching qualification to ensure it is ICF accredited, because it is virtually impossible to be employed as a coach at a large corporation, state or federal government department without an ICF accredited course." - Dr Mark Setch

In Dr Setch’s role at ACAP, he has seen a rich tapestry of students and believes his position as a leader for the undergraduate and postgraduate coaching courses is a “great privilege”. 

“What I really like at ACAP is the diversity; I have students in their 20s, but also mature students in their 60s who have a lot of energy. In addition, those students who speak English as their second language really inspire me.”

The Andrew Little Teaching Excellence Award was established in recognition of former ACAP Principal Executive Officer, Andrew Little, who passed away in 2016. ACAP Dean, Professor Christopher Klopper, commending Dr Setch as the 2024 winner of the award and the impact he has on his students. 

“Dr Setch’s dedication to coaching and education exemplifies the ethos of ACAP,” Professor Klopper said. “As the 2024 recipient of the Andrew Little Teaching Excellence Award, Dr Setch imparts his knowledge and inspires students to reach new heights in their careers. His impact extends beyond the classroom, shaping individuals who go on to have meaningful careers across a range of sectors – we are delighted to have him leading our coaching discipline.” 

Dr Setch added the importance of his position in helping shape students who go on to become coaches, counsellors, social workers and psychologists in the future.  

“Being an educator is an opportunity to invest in the whole student. Of course, my role is to teach them, but I also don’t lose sight of why students signed up to study coaching, I see it as a great privilege to invest in them and to make a difference.”

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