When trying to make sense of a vast subject like coaching, there are many different approaches, definitions and it can mean different things to different people.
Essentially, coaching is widely known as a process in which a person called a coach supports a person in bridging the gap between where they are now to where they’d like to be.
At the heart of authentic coaching is a deep trust that the client is innately creative, wise and whole.
In a true coaching relationship, the client is empowered. The client is best positioned to know the answers to all the questions or challenges that they may have, even if the answers seem to be obscured, concealed or hidden inside.
During coaching sessions between the coach and the client, they help them to be more effective by:
- Helping develop their self-awareness with powerful questions so they can gain greater clarity
- Helping create a plan of action with practical steps they need to take
- Holding a space where the client feels supported through any obstacles or challenges
- Presenting the client with techniques or tools to help them move forward
- Helping to hold the client accountable to their agreed plan of action
Every client will be different, and it’s important to recognise that. They think, feel and act in completely unique ways.
With experience and maturity, coaches learn to go beyond simply using structured techniques and tools that might be learned.
Great coaches listen deeply, they help the client to tune into their intuitive wisdom and help them to bring about discoveries and insights in themselves to help realise their true potential.
Coaching and Other Helping Professions
Coaching can is often confused with other types of support professions such as consulting, mentoring and counselling.
Here I’ve outlined some of the key differences in the other support professions:
A consultant is a person who provides professional expert advice. They can work with businesses, organisations and individual clients.
Consultants diagnose problems and create solutions and strategies to achieve their clients’ goals.
The main difference is that coaches aren’t in the business of simply presenting the client with solutions.
Coaches believe that clients are in the best position to know what solution will work best for themselves. Coaches create space to help their clients discover it.
Some experienced consultants provide coaching services, and vice-versa.
A mentor is a wise and trusted advisor and guide.
The mentor has expertise and experience and cares about you and your long-term development.
A coach trusts that the client knows what’s best for themselves in their own life.
A coach might not have the expertise in the specific area or field in which the client is focussed on, but the coach can help the client achieve their goal through support and accountability.
Counselling is involved in helping individuals get well. Counsellors gain an understanding of the client and focus on healing emotional pain from the experiences they have had in their past.
It is the counsellors’ task to diagnose their problem and help develop their wellness both psychologically and emotionally.
Coaching is more focused on where they are now and is future-directed. Although useful and helpful for some clients, coaching doesn’t look at their past.
Coaches help clients through action plans and strategies to help them get to where they want to be.
Psychotherapy was started in the west in 1886 by Sigmund Freud, the first modern psychotherapist. Psychotherapy means treatment of the mind.
The main way psychotherapists do this is by talking to the person who has the problem in a way that they begin to be able to understand themselves better and feel happier.
Some psychotherapists may work with a group of people such as a family who have problems and are unhappy.
The difference between coaching and psychotherapy is that psychotherapists treat mental illness and focus on past and present issues.
Coaches don’t focus on healing from the past and are more present and future-directed.