JHMJ Parent Coach Training & Certification


We can confidently confirm that learning to parent coach is hard! We can also report, that learning to parent coach can be extremely impactful on the way clinicians deliver information to parents and families. This is evidenced by our own learning; by our experiences training others in the PACE project (Mirenda et al, 2021); and through our work training clinicians from a wide range of disciplines using our model of parent coach training.

Our model of parent coach training and certification was informed through our own experiences learning about, practicing, and training others in parent coaching; by reading extensively into parent coaching literature and research; and by carefully exploring the research around the most impactful learning for professionals. We also enjoy coaching parents of children with developmental needs and do so regularly as part of our own clinical practice.

Below is a brief summary reviewing how we have structured our parent coach training, and why it is structured this way.

Foundations of JHMJ Parent Coach Training and Certification

JHMJ’s model of parent coach training certification draws from an existing model of clinical competency training. Miller’s pyramid (Miller, 1990) was first developed by a physician, Dr. George Miller. It was created with the understanding that there is no single method of instruction or assessment that can provide all that is needed to encompass the complex learning that medical doctors must go through during their education. Since its development, this model had an immediate and lasting impact on the way medical education is structured to ensure trained physicians are competent at their work (Cruess et al., 2016). JHMJ has borrowed the conceptualization of this levelled pyramid on which to structure our training and certification process for parent coaching.

JHMJ has also examined evidence-based practice around adult learning and professional development (i.e., Trivette et al., 2009). Adult learning literature is clear that combined and varied methods of instruction yield the most optimal learning outcomes.  Meaning, a single method of instruction (for example a seminar, lecture, or webinar) is not enough for deep and meaningful learning nor to impact and shift clinician practice. Rather, a combination of learning activities (for example a seminar, combined with opportunities for reflection with other learners, combined with case study examples, and more) results in a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, it is clear that in order to become clinically competent in a new skill, learners need to practice what they are learning with support. The more complex the skill, the more practice and support is required.

There are six characteristics associated with the most impactful adult learning: (1) Introduce, (2) Illustrate, (3) Practice, (4) Evaluate, (5) Reflection, (6) Mastery. Learning should include multiple learning methods and opportunities and be spread out across many learning opportunities. Learning should occur in small groups. More training/learning opportunities leads to stronger outcomes (Trivette et al., 2009).  JHMJ’s leveled parent coach training encompasses all six of these characteristics.

Clinical Competency in Parent Coaching

The adult learning literature is clear that in order to demonstrate, assess, and reflect on clinical competency, there must be a benchmark that learners can use to assess and reflect their newly learned skills against. In the case of parent coaching, the benchmark that we use in our training and certification is a parent coaching fidelity rating tool that was developed through our experiences coaching and training and examining research, literature, and underpinnings of parent coaching. This tool is comprehensively reviewed in our level 2 training and draws from course content in Level 1 and Level 2 Parent Coach Training. This fidelity rating tool is used to examine and assess clinical competence for level 3 support and ensuing JHMJ Parent Coach Certification.


We strive to ensure our training and certification program meets the individualized needs of participants. We are committed to ensuring those who choose to learn with us have opportunities to deeply learn and reflect on what it means, looks like, and feels like to be a parent coach. The literature is clear that this can only happen when adults are active participants in the learning process. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we are can provide you with any more information around JHMJ Parent Coach Training, Certification, or the research foundations on which it all rests.


Cruess R.L., Cruess, S.R., Steinert, Y. (2016). Amending Miller’s pyramid to include professional identity formation. Academic Medicine, 91(2), pp. 180-185.

Miller, G. (1990). The Assessment of clinical skills/competence/performance. Academic Medicine (September Supplement), 65(9), pp. S63-S67.

Mirenda, P., Smith, V., Colozzo, P., Vismara, L., Ungar, W., & Kalynchuk, K. (2021). Training coaches in community agencies to support parents of children with suspected autism: outcomes, facilitators, and barriers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05363-4

Trivette, C.M., Dunst, C.J., Hamby, D.W., & O’Herin, C.E. (2009). Characteristics and consequences of adult learning methods and strategies. Practical Evaluation Reports, 2(1), pp. 1-32.

“Learning to be a parent coach is hard! Michaela is supportive, encouraging, and a great resource. The skills I learned are essential for empowering parents – especially in the virtual appointment world.”

Dee, Infant Development Consultant