#1 Coaching is advice-giving.
Coaches ask questions that help you look to at your issue and concerns in new ways. I love hearing the “Oh!” or “Ahhhh,” sound of a client having a realization–when something just clicks that did not occur to them before. Their excitement of being opened to a totally unexpected perspective through the process of inquiry is palpable.
Presence, attention, and curiosity can lead to startling discoveries about ourselves, our patterns, our beliefs, and our possibilities.
While a coach may pick up on things you’ve never seen in yourself and be able to reflect that back to you with some encouragement or challenge, we are less attached to any outcome or any fixed way of solving anything, and more focused on bringing you into your own best heart-centered advice.
#2 Coaching is about the future, therapy about the past.
Coaching and therapy overlap in many ways. Effective therapists will integrate present time issues and strengths and future goals with an understanding of past influences. Same with coaches.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) distinguishes therapy as a field that is primarily concerned with “resolving difficulties arising from past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning.” As a coach, I am not qualified nor comfortable working with pervasive patterns of dysfunction or mental illness and will refer clients for whom I am not a good fit to someone more equipped.
Realistically, though, on a spectrum, all people share many of the same patterns of what is labeled as “dysfunction.” That is: disconnection, fear, the inner critic, resistance, shame, and core wounding.
As a coach, my approach is to focus on offering validation, compassion, questioning limiting beliefs, collaborating on taking action, and holding clients accountable–all in the here and now.
#3 The Coach leads the coaching process and has the control over the relationship.
Coaching is a co-creative process that is most successful when the client feels driven to make a change and is willing to look at themselves and their choices honestly and show up vulnerably.
The client will set the agenda by choosing the focus and goals for the coaching relationship. The client will collaborate with coach to come up with practices and the client will take action steps, however small, towards their goals.
The coach facilitates the process and brings an eclectic toolkit along to assist the clients in uncovering the real desires behind their goals and continually bringing the client into deeper self-awareness. Either client or coach can end the relationship at any time.