Coaching Defined

Coaching, or being coached, is about finding direction and solutions—moving forward from where we are now to where we really want to be.

We all know that how we deal with changes and challenges can make all the difference to outcomes. Sometimes outside factors seem to complicate matters. Even our own thoughts and beliefs can act as barriers to our moving forward. It can also seem that the more we struggle to find direction and resolution, the more frustrated we become (and the more tangled a web we seem to weave).

Professional life coaching gets to the heart of the matter, helping to untangle key issues, establishing personal priorities and identifying the best possible way forward for each person. Coaching effectively boosts someone’s chances of finding and realising what they really want, when and how they want it.

The coaching relationship is confidential and based on mutual trust, respect, commitment, honesty and responsibility. It is positively focussed on the whole person moving forward. It is non-judgemental and does not impose advice or treatment. The coach is expert in coaching and does not rely on knowledge of any other field. Each person is unique and is therefore their own expert. The coach and the coachee collaborate to find and promote the best possible solutions more easily and effectively than through acting alone.

Coaching is not : therapy, mentoring or consultancy. The following use of the metaphor of driving a car shows the main differences:

  • A therapist will explore what is stopping you driving your car;
  • A counsellor will listen to your anxieties about driving the car;
  • A mentor will share tips from their own experience of driving cars;
  • A consultant will advise you how to drive the car;
  • A coach will encourage, support and guide you in driving your car.

(Bresser and Wilson, edit. Passmore, 2006)

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