What is coaching?

Coaching is a professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations, helping them tobridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaches partner with their clients to design the life they want, bring out their clients’ own brilliance and resources so that they can achieve excellence and create purposeful, extraordinary lives. By creating clarity, coaching moves the client into action, accelerating their progress by providing greater focus and awareness of all the possibilities which exist to create fulfilling lives.

ILCT founder Patrick Williams described coaching as

“a powerful, human relationship where trained coaches assist people to design their future rather than help them get over their past . . . coaches aid clients in creating visions and goals for ALL aspects of their lives and in creating multiple strategies to support achieving those goals. Coaches recognize the brilliance of each client and their personal power to discover their own solutions when provided with support, accountability, and unconditional, positive regard.”
 

Therapist as Life Coach, 2007

According to the International Coach Federation

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.

Where did the concept of coaching originate?

Historically, there have always been “coaches” of some sort in society. It might have been the town priest, the shaman, an elder (grandfather, uncle) or some other mentor relationship. Prior to the evolution of the coach training programs, coaching was a term primarily used in the arts (voice coaches, drama coaches), athletics, and the corporate world. Many executives hired outside consultants as coaches or mentors to give them an outside and unbiased view of their business life and get help with their personal life as well.

Now coaching is seen as both valuable and convenient to the general public for assistance in “total life coaching.” Due to the “formal” training available to prospective coaches who come from a variety of disciplines and work experience, the general public can now find a personal coach who is well trained to assist them in achieving their big goals and desires in their personal or their professional life.

What is the philosophy behind coaching?

The underlying philosophy behind coaching is that we humans have immeasurable resources of energy, wisdom, ability and genius waiting to be set in motion. We can create the life we want faster and more easily by partnering with a coach who helps us utilize these resources to facilitate change and realize our potential.

Many of the early psychological theories (Adler, Jung, Ellis) and current theories such as Positive Psychology and the “solution focused” therapies are antecedents to modern day coaching. Instead of pathology as the main focus, these theories focus on behavior change through increased awareness and choices for desired future results and solutions to current problems in living, with the individual as the creator and artist of his or her life.

How does coaching differ from therapy and other helping professions?

Professional coaches know the importance of identifying the characteristics and ethical considerations which differentiate coaching from consulting, therapy, mentoring, counseling, or even friendship and support group membership.

While coaching and therapy share some similarities, psychotherapy often focuses on the impact the past has on the present, on healing psychological dysfunction, and on relieving emotional pain. The therapist is considered to be the expert, the one with answers about what is right for the client.

Coaching focuses on the present and future, the client's strengths, life purpose and goals, working with clients to create possibilities to enrich their life. Based on the belief that all individuals are whole, capable individuals, coaching assumes the client is expert, able to determine what is best for their lives and the coach works along with them to maximize their personal and professional potentials, to close the gaps to create extraordinary lives.

To learn more about the differences, download ILCT founder Dr. Patrick Williams’ article Borderline: Understanding the relationship between therapy and coaching.

Why has the industry attained such record growth?

We are in a time when the field and practice of coaching is both growing and evolving. The demand for coaching came into being when stressed out executives started seeking help in coping with their professional and personal lives. In addition, as companies started downsizing and outplacing, and baby boomers started turning 50, coaches were hired to ease traumatic transitions and to help people get back on track. Since then the profession of coaching has continued to grow and expand. Why? Quite simply, because it works!

A 2014 Global Coaching Client Study conducted on behalf of the International Coach Federation found that of those individuals who had received coaching

80% saw improved self-confidence

73% saw improved relationships

72% saw improved communication skills

70% saw improved work performance

61% saw improved business management

57% saw improved time management

51% saw improved team performance

And of those surveyed, 99% indicated that there were “somewhat or fully satisfied with their coaching experience” and 96% said they would do it again.

When you think about it, at any one time, the lives of about 10% of the population are being negatively impacted by mental illness and issues from their past which need to be resolved to move forward. The rest of the population (90%) for whom psychotherapy is not indicated, can benefit from the holistic, strength based approach of coaching which supports them to create more rewarding, fulfilling lives, to find and achieve their dreams.

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