What is professional coaching?
The International Coaches Federation ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”
Most often confused professions and some web definitions:
Consulting – Involves the use of expertise in a given field to provide advice, information, suggestions, choices and alternatives
Therapy – Focuses on what hurts and violates, and seeks to find healing by revisiting past events and situations. The treatment is intended to relieve or heal a disorder and treat mental health issues such as mental illness and trauma.
Counseling – Helping an individual to improve performance by resolving situations from the past. The provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties by recommending a course of action or giving advice
Mentoring – Helping to shape an individual’s beliefs and values in a positive way; often a longer term career relationship from someone who has ‘done it before’. An unequal relationship where the most experienced person imports his knowledge and skills to the less experienced person
Training – The trainer is the expert who instructs and teaches, putting the trainee through his paces by testing and evaluating
What about Coaching?
Coaching is not about telling you what to do. Coaching is helping another person to improve awareness, to set and achieve goals in order to improve a particular behavioural performance. Unlike consulting, mentoring, or teaching, your coach will not tell you how to solve a problem or provide step-by-step instructions. There is no set agenda to follow or course to complete. You will freely set the direction of focus based on the challenges you want to overcome. Once the coaching agenda has been set by you, your coach will use powerful questioning, assessment tools, techniques and brainstorming to help you accomplish your goals.
Coaching is not like going to a physician. There is no diagnosis code indicating a treatment and prescribed medications with Coaching. Coaching is a fluid process that often uses assessment tools and worksheets filled with questions to bring clarity to a situation and forward your desired actions.
Coaching is also not like getting counseling. Counseling and Coaching focus on two different time frames, Counseling looks at the past while Coaching looks at the future. Both Counseling and Coaching focus on how to make the present time a productive asset to one’s life.
Coaching is not like doing therapy. Therapists are trained to dig in under the surface to determine root issues, like the way an archaeologist goes in for the dig to figure out how the past speaks into one’s future. A life coach is more like an architect, helping the client figure out what should be built on an already solid and stable foundation. Although root issues may be considered in coaching, and addressed to some degree, the depth of doing so would depend on the emotional health of the client with sensitivity to the fact that counseling might be necessary.
Coaching is an opportunity to create one’s life as desired. A coach is a professional that works by deepening and forwarding your learning ‘in the now’ to empower you to create and start living the life you truly desire. A coaching relationship unfolds with the coach asking you thought-provoking questions, enabling you to come up with your own solutions, strengthening and building your skill set ‘muscles’. A coach encourages you to look at specific situations and at yourself from different perspectives, so you may uncover previously unseen options and make better choices.
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