What is coaching? Perhaps, the best way to understand coaching is to understand what it is not. There are many helping modalities that people can use to create the life that they want. Four of the modalities that are sometimes not clearly delineated are counseling/therapy, mentoring, consulting, and coaching.
Unfortunately, many of these terms are easily confused and interchanged by individuals deliberately or not deliberately. It is important to distinguish among these helping modalities so that people know which is the one that will serve them best given a particular need.
Counseling is a helping modality that helps people identify the cause of a problem that may be affecting the individual’s well-being. Counseling addresses psychosocial issues that may have originated in the past. Counseling therapy may include asking thought-provoking questions similar to those used in coaching. However, the goal is to apply what comes forth to principles of mental health, psychology, and human development. The goal is to help the client have growth, behavioral change, or emotional well-being.
Mentoring is a modality in which an expert imparts his or her knowledge and expertise on the mentee. The mentor takes an active interest in their development. For example, if you want to achieve a certain level in your career or personal life you seek out someone who has reached that level. That person shows you the ropes. The mentor provides guidance so that you can achieve those things with less effort, fewer obstacles, and fewer mistakes.
A consultant is an individual who advises. The consultant imparts his or her expertise to create a specific change or achieve a result that you want. The consultant analyzes the situation, collects data, and makes recommendations for the best course of action for achieving goals. The consultant may or may not be tasked with transferring knowledge and skills to the client.
What is coaching? According to the International Coaching Federation, “coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
I received my training at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. The definition of coaching from iPEC is “…the core energy process [coaching] is a process that helps bring out the potential of a client, be that a person, couple, family, or corporation. This process is done by emotionally connecting the client’s inner purpose and passion to other goals and strategies to bring about extraordinary and sustainable results.”
My Definition of Coaching
My definition of coaching is a process that creates trust, based on the foundation of support and nonjudgement, which allows inquiry, dialogue, thinking-aloud, brainstorming, accountability, feedback, and challenging the client to take place. Coaching makes the whole of all those tools greater than the sum of the parts. The coach is not the expert in the client’s life. The coach does not need expertise in the client’s field. The client is the expert in his or her life personal and professional life. The coach is the expert in the coaching process. The ultimate goal of the coaching process is to help clients achieve impactful and sustainable results with goals, perspective, and behavior change. My particular areas of coaching help bring about results and growth in the areas of self-awareness, self-mastery, and self-actualization. Coaching is a key that unlocks possibility and potential!
What would you add to these definitions to distinguish them better?