WHAT COACHING IS and WHAT IT IS NOT
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
In this article, I will explain what coaching is and what it is NOT. I hope that this explanation will help you to understand what to expect when working with me as your coach.
Do You Need a License?
These days it seems like everyone is calling themselves a coach. And they can because unlike other professions, such as counseling, psychotherapy, and accountancy, coaching is not regulated by legislation. However, as I explained in my last post, going through proper training, having a certification, and being bound to the ethical guidelines of the ICF, is a no-brainer to me. Also, a certification helps distinguish you from non-coaches who call themselves coaches, and who often mislead or even harm clients.
So What is Coaching Anyway?
There is no universal formula for coaching. Coaching is not a linear process, it's a complex human-to-human relationship. Of course, there are different coaching methods, tools, and frameworks one can use. However, the success of a coaching relationship very much depends on the character and the intention of the coach.
"That said, coaching can be learned. But you must be prepared to learn by changing, to become a coach rather than adopt a set of skills." - Gregg Thompson
So what does the ICF have to say?
ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
What I want to add to this definition
The coach doesn’t have to have all the answers - the coachee is resourceful and already has the answers
The coach is merely there to raise awareness and to create these light bulb moments for the coachee
What Coaching IS NOT and How It Differs From Other Disciplines
So, the above has all been a bit vague, I admit. Sometimes it's easier to contrast something with what it isn't rather than trying to define what it is. And I think that's exactly the case with coaching. So let's look at a few disciplines that are close to coaching and can sometimes overlap. But ultimately these disciplines are not coaching. Let's have a look
Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction, and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present. The work of a therapist is to uncover what happened in the past that has a negative impact on the present. Therapy is focused on helping. The helper is, by definition, in a stronger position than a person who needs help. The coaching process is about working together with a client.
Counseling is based on powerful comfort of non-judgemental listening in the moment. This means talking it through extensively, without either counselor or client feeling any obligation to act, which both coaching and therapy may imply. It is focused on the past, not on the future. It is focused on problems rather than goals.
Essentially therapy and counseling are part of the health sector when coaching is a branch of management development and personal development.
In consulting a client introduces a problem, an expert (a consultant) gathers information, diagnoses the situation and works with the client to formulate solutions. A consultant is the expert, who uses his knowledge and experience to facilitate a client’s success. A coach guides the client on a journey of self-discovery.
The main aspect is that a mentor is a more experienced person passing on their advice to a less experienced one. Therefore, pure mentoring is a different activity from coaching. A coach may not have direct experience of their client's formal occupational role. Mentoring enables an individual to follow in the path of an older and wiser colleague who can pass on knowledge and experience. In coaching relationships, it is the client who generates solutions and creates the action.
A trainer has their own agenda about the process, what they are going to teach. The trainer is an expert in the subject they teach. Even though some trainers may use a coaching approach to the learning, like asking questions and encouraging students to come up with their own answers, rather than giving them ready once, it is still a trainer who is owning the process and not the participants. In many training activities, trainers simply talk more than participants when in coaching it is a client who speaks while the coach asks questions and listens to a client.
I hope that this explanation will help you to understand what to expect when working with me as your coach. If you feel happy with what I read please get in touch to schedule your intake session.