The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as: “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Said another way, coaching is a process to help clients clarify what’s meaningful for them, and to achieve their life goals.
Obviously we can do this on our own, but the coach acts as a mirror and support in the process. Coaching works by helping to enhance awareness, increase motivation, uncover and activate personal strengths and resources, and develop new ones. Coaching is widely recognized as an effective way to achieve forward-moving change, and is backed with solid research.
How Coaching is Distinct from Other Helping Professions?
Therapy: Therapy is more about healing personal difficulties and pain. Coaching is more about uncovering and achieving desires and goals. Coaching often includes goals of getting over unhealthy habits, and the focus is on present time awareness and moving forward to achieve our goals. In the evolution of therapy over the past several decades, the approach is increasingly pro-active and forward looking, whereas coaching was founded in this approach right from its inception. The results of therapy and coaching are not necessarily exclusive, because therapy can result in helping us achieve our goals, and coaching can result in healing past and present pains.
Consulting: Consulting is a relationship where the consultant offers advice and problem solving based on their expertise in a specific area or subject matter. Coaching works on the basis that the client is resourceful, creative and whole, and the expert in their own life.
Mentoring: Mentoring is a process of education where the mentor offers assistance based on their own education and experience. Coaching may sometimes include mentoring conversations, but the overall approach of coaching is focused on the client’s strengths, and applying those to moving towards the client’s goals.