Co-Author: Sena Dilhan Atasagun (MSc Social and Organisational Psy. Exeter University)
The International Coach 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”. A coach is a collaborative partner that helps to establish personalized goals, enhances your strengths, helps to overcome weaknesses and obstacles in pursuing your goals. The precise definition of coaching varies. Despite the variation, it is easier to define what coaching is not. To understand the coaching better, it is important to keep in mind that:
Coaching is not psychotherapy. Coaches, often work with well-functioning people to make them perform better. It focuses to the abilities and strengths of the client, whereas psychotherapy concerns with treatment of mental disorders. Coaching does not involve diagnose, so treats unlike the psychotherapy. Coaches are solution oriented, while psychotherapists are problem oriented. Psychotherapy, generally focus to the past to resolve the problems. It looks at how past issues shaped your current behaviors. However, coaches clarify what the client wants to improve upon. It has a more present day focus. In addition to this, in a coaching session, the client and the coach create a co-active model while psychotherapy is largely planned by therapist.
Coaching is not consulting. The coach does not provide answers. S/he is not the one to know all the answers. The coach assumes that the client is capable, creative and able to solve problems on their own. The coach considers that the clients already have the answers inside of them. The aim of the coach is to help the client to bring those answers to the surface. That’s why the answers emerge themselves. Asking the right question is the essential weapon to do this.
Coaching is not mentoring. People tend to be confused about the differences between coaching and mentoring. One of the significant difference is that having the first-hand experience is not a must for coaching. The coach does not need to have direct experience of their client’s occupational role. Mentoring involves skills-transfer from a more experienced to a less experienced person. Mentors use their practical experiences from the real world to help and advice the client. The mentor recommends solutions, gives advice and orients the client. In contrast, the client is the one who come up with the solution in a coaching session. So this is about helping clients explore their own solutions via asking right questions.
Coaching is not training
Training is about teaching the skills and knowledge to the learner by an expert. However the coach does not transfer knowledge or skills. S/he creates awareness for the client using client’s own skills, knowledge.
All in all, if you want to make significant changes, to deal with uncertainty or to set goals in order to make your life more meaningful; get ready to take action. A solution-focused coach may fill your mind with many questions to help you find out your own way without telling you what to do or not. This may be a tailor-made solution, thus, customized for your needs if you do not want to follow the others’ paths.