What is coaching?
Coaching is a relationship between two individuals. In the coaching relationship, the coach and client (sometimes called the coachee) work together in an environment of creativity, openness, non-judgement, curiosity and responsibility. The coach helps to protect and provide a space for the client to think outside the box, to consider something he or she has not previously considered and to access his or her own, unique abilities. Coaching is the conversations, the development and the growth that happen in this space.
Who seeks out coaching?
Almost anyone could seek out coaching. In my practice, clients come to me ready to work. They are typically high-functioning, reflective, creative and passionate. Most of the time my clients have already done a lot of personal work – they value personal growth and have already made, or have tried to make, steps toward their ideal life. People who seek coaching are looking for someone to support them in the process of life change. The change my clients are seeking varies depending on the individual, but it can mean: getting un-stuck, breaking unproductive habits, better understanding the values that drive personal or professional decisions, realizing a life-long dream or simply finding a new way to do things.
What makes someone a coach?
Coaching, in the formal sense, is a relatively new field. Most people agree that coaching as a profession started in the 1980s and became increasingly organized in the 1990s. To date, there is no official state, national or international licensing or regulation of coaches – so be cautious when hiring a coach. Sometimes people call themselves coaches without having the necessary training or background to support their work. Ask lots of questions and expect thorough, well-thought-out answers.
Many people who offer coaching do not necessarily have coach-specific training, but they offer invaluable services for meeting the needs of the people they serve. Therapists, doctors, lawyers, teachers and counselors, to name a few, are all people that probably provide some level of coaching in their work. Trained, professional or certified coaches will likely have credentials from the International Coach Federation. You’re likely to see ACC, PCC or MCC after their name. Coach training is active and dynamic – so it’s possible that someone might present him or herself as a coach, but not yet have these credentials. It's always okay to ask a coach about his/her credentials.
These technical criteria aside, a coach should be someone who comes to your relationship prepared to set aside his or her own agenda. A coach actively listens, supports, honors, encourages and values his or her clients.
What principles guide coaches and coaching?
There are probably as many different answers to this question as there are coaches. However, I believe that the best coaches adhere to a set of guiding principles that focus on the strengths of the client and her inner ability to discover and live the life she wants. I believe that the best coaches recognize the endless possibilities that await their clients when they chose to live life on purpose every day.
Do coaches have a Code of Ethics?
Yes. The International Coach Federation sets the Code of Ethics for the profession. All members of the ICF and coaches certified through the ICF pledge to adhere to these guidelines. The Code of Ethics is quite lengthy so I do not include it in its entirety here, but you can read it here.