Coaching FAQs

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Can you describe coaching in more detail?

Coaching is a professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual that supports the attainment of desired results, as defined by the individual. It is most often done via phone, but can also occur in person.

How often in life do you have someone whose specific job is to make sure you remain true to what YOU want? When you are acting authentically, and in line with your purpose and values, you will not only be happier and more productive in your own life, but your stronger foundation will enhance your ability to lead others in your own unique way.

Depending upon your personal goals, the coaching relationship can provide you with the following:

  • Clarification of your personal purpose, wants, values and visions
  • Support in overcoming obstacles (including self-placed barriers) to creating the life and lasting legacy you desire
  • Guidance in utilizing strengths and recognizing developmental opportunities
  • Accountability for remaining true to yourself and your visions
  • Action and results that move you into a refreshingly new range of possibilities

How does coaching differ from therapy or counseling?

Therapy and coaching are often confused. This is not surprising, given that coaching often draws upon concepts and techniques developed by pioneers in the counseling field. While I believe that my formal training in counseling enhances my coaching significantly, I do not conduct counseling/therapy with my coaching clients.

Coaching clients are at a point where they’re willing to accept responsibility for their outcomes, and are ready to define and work toward what they want out of life. Coaching supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. While some forms of therapy focus on the “why,” coaching usually places greater emphasis upon the “how”–how will you get to where you want to go? Where necessary, coaching still engages in some forms of self-exploration, such as clarifying sense of purpose and values.

Individuals can benefit greatly from coaching if they’re relatively high functioning, and have already sought (or are currently engaging in) therapy where it may be necessary. I’ve utilized both therapists and coaches, and have found them both very useful in different ways. If any of the following seem to describe you, counseling/therapy may be a good option to explore prior to coaching:

  • I have, or believe I may have, a mental health condition (includes substance addictions) that still impacts my life significantly, and that hasn’t yet been addressed with a counselor/therapist or psychiatrist.
  • I often find myself blaming others for my problems or current condition.
  • I have unresolved past trauma issues that continue to impact my functioning significantly; I need to work through and let go of them before I’m ready to move forward.

Coaching places less emphasis on improved emotional and feeling states than some forms of counseling/therapy. While positive feelings and emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. Coaching emphasizes action, accountability and follow through; and any efforts focused on the past are intended to form a more powerful foundation for this action–e.g., gaining clarity on one’s purpose, values, strengths and tendencies for “blocking” oneself.

If you’ve experienced therapy or counseling, you may be wondering which styles or models from that field bear some similarities to coaching. Actually, several models or schools of thought have elements that may be utilized in coaching. These include Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Reality Therapy, cognitive-behavioral approaches, positive psychology, existential psychology, constructivism, and even Gestalt. Career counseling in general also draws from many of the same knowledge bases as coaching.

How does coaching differ from consulting?

Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals and teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks. I occasionally share specialized expertise in a consulting fashion, generally following the client’s permission to do so. This is why I utilize both “coaching” and “consulting” to describe the services I offer.

How does coaching differ from mentoring?

Mentoring…is guiding from one’s own experience or sharing of experience in a specific area of industry or career development…Coaches are not typically mentors to those they coach. Because coaching is a transformative process that can be applied across a range of situations, it is not necessary for the coach to have industry-specific experience to add great value for a client.

What types of backgrounds do coaches come from?

Coaches come from a broad range of backgrounds, and the best fit for you depends upon what you seek to achieve. You may wish to have someone who has first-hand experience in a specific industry area (although in that case you may really be seeking a mentor or consultant rather than a coach), you may wish to have someone who has training and experience in human transformation processes (these interactive processes may be applied across a range of life situations), or you may be seeking someone who has both.

What types of clients have you worked with?

I’ve worked with clients on issues including career transitions, work/life balance, stress reduction, completion of specific projects, social networking, and reassessment of life purpose, values, and strengths.

My clients have ranged in age from 20 to 50s. They have included both single and partnered individuals, with and without kids.

Their diverse interests have included public leadership, law, environmental issues, animal welfare, marketing, applied arts, and public health. Some have been looking to shift from one professional area into another.

Clients have included college and graduate students, a public official who is now nationally visible, a human resources director, a medical doctor with both clinical and academic faculty responsibilities, and a lawyer managing their own practice.

Do you specialize in working with particular types of clients?

While I’ve worked with a range of clients, I do tend to work particularly well with those who have one or more of the below characteristics.

Leading a life that expresses your ideals is important to you. Career, play and relationships feel superficial if they’re not aligned with who you really are, and life is too short to spin your wheels doing otherwise.

Your values include creating a more just and sustainable world. Part of coaching is about helping you to discover and honor your own unique set of values and priorities. However, I work best with others who appreciate the interconnectedness among all people and living things.

You have overachiever tendencies. You take your endeavors very seriously, and may have an impressive array of accomplishments in your career, family, or academic life. However, your efforts aren’t necessarily getting you where you really want to go yet, and may be connected to martyrdom or lack of life balance.

You’re somewhat eccentric or “outside the box.” You could be a leader who desires to challenge the status quo, someone who is committed to important but unpopular causes, or someone who has outgrown a current setting, job or set of relationships. You may struggle to honor and leverage what sets you apart. You may wish to increase your authenticity, happiness and impact in your current environment, or transition into a new one.

You are very creative and intelligent – even if you’re modest about it, or if it doesn’t show up in a traditional way.

Note: Some of the definitions of professions above are adapted from the International Coach Federation.