Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ definition for coaching. I think this is the case because everyone is different and therefore everyone has their own unique style and definitions for what they do. This is great because it means that there is a huge amount of variety and people can find exactly the right coach for them, however it also generates a lot of confusion surrounding what it actually is. I am going to spend the next 1 minute 46 seconds to try and explain as clearly as I can, what I know coaching to be:
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
Coaching stems from a branch of psychology called ‘humanistic psychology’ founded in the mid 20th century. Very briefly, this is the branch which believes that people are fundamentally whole, and all that is needed for an individual to grow and reach their full potential, is the creation of the right environment. So the aim of coaching is to create that ‘right environment’ in order to facilitate a person’s growth.
It seems far simpler than you would imagine, but according to Carl Rogers (‘The Father of Coaching’), all that is needed to create this environment is: for the coach and coachee to be in contact with each other, for the coachee to desire some kind of change, for the coach to be open and honest, for the coach to be non-judgemental, for the coachee to not feel judged and for the coach to experience and express an understanding of the coachee’s inner world.
WHAT IS IT?
Coaching is the creation of the ‘right environment’ in order to facilitate the growth and the development of the coachee. It is a collaborative relationship in which both parties are working together to explore a certain area or work towards an outcome. The coach’s role is to reflect back and ask intuitive, challenging questions that will allow the coachee to have a second look at their own thought processes and to explore their thinking.
WHAT IS IT NOT?
Coaching is often pooled into the same category of counselling, therapy and psychoanalysis, but there are some significant differences. Firstly, it is not overly focused on the past, instead it is generally forward looking. Although coaches do not neglect the past, they refer to it only as much as the individual desires. Secondly, it is non-advisory. Part of the philosophy behind coaching is that individuals are the only experts of their own lives, so advice from a third party will never capture the full story and can so often be misguided. (Also we are far more likely to follow our own solutions to things than someone else’s!)
WHO IS IT FOR?
Anyone who has a genuine interest in self-exploration or making a positive change in their lives. Goals for people can vary from ‘I want to have a better grasp of my identity’, to ‘I want to create and stick to a better daily routine’.
HOW IS IT CARRIED OUT?
One-to-one, group, one off sessions, sessions every week for a year, skype, phone, face-to-face, at home, in an office, in a cafe. This is completely dependent on the preferences of the coach and coachee. I will use myself as an example: I start with 6 weekly or bi-weekly sessions that are an hour long. I do this face-to-face, over skype, over the phone, or a combination of the 3, and always give my clients an option to extend if they believe it will be of benefit to them.
It is very difficult to describe something that is by nature, subtle and nuanced. Coaching is something to be experienced rather than theorised about and put into words. I hope this description has cleared at least some of the clouds!