What coaching is and who the coach is


Coaching. A word one hears today from all corners. Do you also get the impression that almost everyone who advises anyone with something calls themselves a coach? Then know that such people likely have precious little in common with a true coach and coaching. So what is the answer to the question of what coaching actually is, then?

According to the definition of the International Coach Federation Czech Republic, which is an association of professional internationally certified coaches in the Czech Republic, coaching can be described thus: "Coaching represents a relationship of trust which helps the client to undertake specific steps in order to achieve his vision, his objectives or desires. Coaching utilises processes of investigation and self-discovery to build up the client's awareness and accept responsibility which he achieves through greater structure, support and active feedback. The coaching process helps the client not just to precisely define his objectives, but also to achieve these objectives more quickly and with greater effectiveness than had he not made use of coaching." And what does this mean in practice?

What a coach actually does...

Lots of people think of a coach as an advisor or mentor. But that's not what a coach is. A coach is the client's partner, not their teacher. The coach helps the client reveal and deepen their skills and characteristics which are important for their growth. The coach listens and posits questions which guide the client on a path which helps them to achieve what they desire. In their own fashion, through their own efforts. The coach boosts the client's self-confidence and develops their personality.

A coach doesn't advise, but accompanies. A coach believes that the client knows deep down what is most important for them and how to achieve their goals, and helps to reveal these hidden strengths. Through the coach, the client begins to view him or herself differently - and changes his or her mindset towards a positive view of him or herself. It doesn't matter whether the client is seeking answers to questions related to work, their private life or perhaps sport. The positive changes based on his or her core being are what lead him or her (with the help of the coach) to the desired outcome.

...and what a coach doesn´t do

As described above, a coach is not an advisor, nor a mentor, consultant or instructor. Such people advise clients on the basis of their experience or information they have acquired through education. They set up plans, present solutions, tell the clients what to do and what not to do in order to improve in a particular field. A coach does not offer solutions of the type, "if you carry out these 10 steps, you'll be more successful/happier/more effective". Coaching is based on you and your perspective on the world, and not on external information.

Do you think coaching seems a bit like psychotherapy? This comparison doesn't quite stand up either. Coaching and therapy differ fundamentally in one important aspect - while the psychotherapist focuses on the client's past and an analysis of it, the coach focuses on the present and especially the future. The coach does not pretend that the client has no past, but rather takes it as a given. The coach does not analyse why someone behaves as they do because of past experiences, but rather tries to find ways to change the negative impacts of the past to the client's advantage.

Nor will your coach be your crisis manager or mentor. The coach doesn't have a list of general advice used to point the way to change for you and their other clients. The coach takes an individual approach, listens and together you will look for a solution. The coach is not the client's superior, but rather an entirely equal partner. And above all - the coach is not an expert who can help you if the desire for change does not come directly from you.

What does coaching help with?

The answer to this question could be essentially summarised in two words - with everything. There is basically no aspect of human life a coach cannot help with. Whether the client is wrestling with personal, work, sports or perhaps health problems they're not sure how to deal with, the coach is there to guide them to a resolution.

It doesn't matter whether you need to kick-start your business, improve relationships within your team, manage a relationship crisis, improve communication with your children or parents, improve your self-confidence, ascertain what you really want from life, overcome tough times, deal with stress, find a better family-work balance, improve your personal best in sport... No situation is too banal - if it isn't banal for you, then it isn't for coaching either. It is evident that coaches always specialise in a particular field or fields in which they can help their client, so when choosing a coach always check that they are right for you. And while we're on the subject...

How to choose a coach

Once you've decided you want or need to invite a coach into your life, you'll be faced with a rather thorny question - where can one actually find a coach? And it's not that there's a lack of them: rather you need to be sure that your chosen coach has the relevant education and necessary certification which confirms that they are a true expert. Because today anybody can call themselves a coach, and unfortunately this includes people whose only qualification is that they've read a book about personal growth, watched some videos on YouTube and are now convinced they can advise others.

That's why you should always check what certificates the coach has, and what education and training he or she has undergone. Read about what they specialise in and their experience. And not just in professional terms, but also personal experience. You may find that some aspect of their life resonates with your own experiences. Don't forget to read references from the coach's clients either.

However, even when it all looks great on paper (or rather on your screen or display), a personal meeting (or online meeting) will prove vital. Remember that your coach will be your partner, and you'll be sharing your highly personal thoughts with them, so you need to "get on". Do you get a positive feeling regarding how the coach responds, how they speak? Is there "chemistry" between you? Then the best path forward is to build a relationship based on trust, which is crucial for coaching, with them.

What is brain-based coaching?

Maybe you've noticed that some coaches specialise in so-called neurocoaching, or brain-based coaching. As the name suggests, this is a method based on the findings of neuroscience, which investigates the working of the human brain.

The brain remains a great mystery even for scientists, but we still need to recognise that it is the brain which determines how we respond, how we behave, how we think about things. When it starts to work against us, we need to "reprogramme" some of its routine rituals and methods. And this is the area which coaches focused on neurocoaching place great emphasis on in their education and in coaching clients.

Autor: Ing. Andrea Gawron, ACC (ICF)
Foto: Stockphotosecrets.com

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