Coaching - What it is, what it isn't and how it could help you

Put very simply, coaching involves helping you move from an unresourceful state to a resourceful one in order for you to achieve your goals. Coaching can facilitate positive changes in your life and is based on the idea that you already have all the resources within you to achieve the goals you set.

Coaching could help you to unlock your potential to maximize your skills and resources, empowering you to make the changes that are important to you. You could discover the strength and energy within yourself to make good decisions, increase your performance, improve your relationships and transform your life!

the definition of coaching

What coaching isn’t 

Coaching is not counselling or therapy

These interventions presuppose that there is something going on about a person or situation that needs to be “fixed.”

Coaching is completely different in that it presupposes that a person has all the resources and skills within themselves to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. There is nothing to be “fixed.” 

Coaching is not teaching or training

a teacher in front of a blackboard

A person can have all the training and academic knowledge in the world and still not be able to put into place the steps to achieve their goal.

Coaching facilitates an individual to identify for themselves what they need in terms of actions, knowledge and motivation to achieve their goal. A coach cannot teach them the skills they may need as these will be different for each person.

It is often not a lack of skill or knowledge that holds a person back (although that can be the missing part sometimes). It is something more fundamental about that person’s life experience so far which has led them to have self-limiting beliefs, lack of confidence or simply a feeling of overwhelm that doesn’t allow them to see a clear way forward.

Coaching is not mentoring

Although very similar, mentoring tends to focus on supporting future and broader skills, usually for career development. A coaching relationship is about the here and now. A career or business coach may also offer mentoring.

So, what kind of coach is right for me?

Often coaches will be quite general in the types of coaching they offer and some will specialize in certain areas. For example, a career and business development coach may have expertise in health and wellbeing and so on. There are however some basic skills that are common to all coaching activity and will be at the top of every coach’s tool box.

These are to: 

  • Facilitate the exploration of needs, motivations, desires, skills and thought processes to assist you in making real, lasting change
  • Use questioning techniques to facilitate your own thought processes in order to identify solutions and actions rather than take a directive approach
  • Support you in setting appropriate goals and methods of assessing progress in relation to these goals
  • Observe, listen and ask questions to fully understand your situation
  • Creatively apply tools and techniques to develop your own understanding of your situation
  • Encourage a commitment to action and the development of lasting personal growth & change

What happens in a coaching session?

There really is no set format as coaching is ALL about you and will be led by you throughout. However, your coach initially will want you to talk about yourself and what your goals and aspirations are, and also what your thoughts are on anything getting in the way of you achieving them.

Based on this your coach will be forming a plan for future coaching sessions, but it is important to know that this will be very fluid and flexible because coaching sessions often bring out thoughts and feelings that you may not have seen clearly before.

How many sessions will I need?

Usually 3 sessions are about the right number to get you onto a pathway that makes you feel in control and focused on next steps. At this point some people are happy to make progress by themselves. Some people like to continue for a bit longer if it has been a major transition and some people like to keep coaching going on a flexible basis.

For example you may want to have coaching every month to stay on track or have the option to ring for coaching as and when things pop up.

What does working with a coach cost?

Depending on the type of coaching you should expect to pay between £50 and £120 per session. Coaches often offer discounts for blocks of 3 or more sessions so ask your coach about this. The most important thing for you is that you find the coach that you enjoy working with.

You will find that you make most progress when you work with someone you can connect with, someone who is in rapport with you, and someone who makes you feel at ease and comfortable with them.

Most coach’s will offer a short complimentary telephone session initially so that you can see how it feels talking to them and get an idea of their style of coaching. Be curious, ask questions and trust your intuition.