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While I believe the best way to understand what coaching is about is to have an experience of it, I know some people want
to know how it compares to other professions, specifically
psychotherapy and consulting. This article from the International
Coaching Federation compares the three professions.
The Nature and Scope of Coaching
I: With Respect to Psychotherapy
WHO THE CLIENT IS
The individual coaching client is someone who wants to reach
one or more of the following: a higher level of performance,
learning, or satisfaction. The client is not seeking emotional
healing or relief from psychological pain.
coaching client can take action to move towards a goal with
the support of the coach. The successful client is not excessively
limited in the ability to take action or overly hesitant to
make this kind of progress.
HOW SERVICE IS DELIVERED
Coaches and clients arrange the schedule and means of contact
(e.g., in person, by phone, or via e-mail) that serve them
both. They are not constrained to follow a standardized schedule
or means of contact.
THE RELATIONSHIP IN COACHING
A coach relates to the client as a partner. A coach does not
relate to the client from a position of an expert, authority,
Coach and client together choose the focus, format, and desired
outcomes for their work. The client does not relinquish the
responsibility for creating and maintaining these nor does
the coach take full responsibility for them.
Coaching is designed to help clients improve their learning
and performance, and enhance their quality of life. Coaching
does not focus directly on relieving psychological pain or
treating cognitive or emotional disorders.
Coaching concentrates primarily on the present and future.
Coaching does not focus on the past or on the past's impact
on the present.
Coaching uses information from the client's past to clarify
where the client is today. It does not depend on resolution
of the past to move the client forward.
Coaching assumes the presence of emotional reactions to life
events and that clients are capable of expressing and handling
their emotions. Coaching is not psychotherapy and emotional
healing is not the focus of coaching.
RELATIONSHIP TO PSYCHOTHERAPY
Coaching can be used concurrently with psychotherapeutic work.
It is not used as a substitute for psychotherapeutic work.
Advice, opinions, or suggestions are occasionally offered
in coaching. Both parties understand that the client is free
to accept or decline what is offered and takes the ultimate
responsibility for action. The coach is not discouraged from
offering advice, opinions or suggestions on occasion.
A coach makes a request of the client to promote action toward
the client's desired outcome. A coach does not make such requests
in order to fix the client's problem or understand the client's
II: With Respect to Consulting
Definition: In all of the following statements, the word 'client'
is used to denote the person who is being coached, regardless
of who is paying for the service.
Coaches are experts in the coaching process and may not have
specific knowledge of a given subject area or industry. Where
coaches have expertise in other areas, they may use it to
facilitate the coaching process. Coaches do not use this particular
expertise to diagnose, direct, or design solutions for the
Relationship is the foundation of coaching. The coach and
client intentionally develop a relationship which is characterized
by a growing and mutual appreciation and respect for each
other as individuals. This relationship is not an adjunct
to or byproduct of the coaching. Nor is it based on the client's
position or performance.
USE OF INFORMATION
In coaching, information drawn from the client is used by
the coach to promote the client's awareness and choice of
action. This information is not used to evaluate performance
or produce reports for anyone but the person being coached.
Coaching has the freedom and flexibility to address a wide
variety of personal and professional topics. In any given
coaching relationship, coach and client alone determine the
scope of their work. Coaching is not necessarily restricted
to a narrowly defined issue nor is its scope determined in
any other way.
CONTRIBUTION TO RESULTS
In coaching, any contribution the coach makes to producing
the client's desired outcome is through on-going interaction
with the client. The coach's role does not include producing
a contracted product or result outside of the coaching sessions.
Coaching is designed to provide clients with a greater capacity
to produce results and a greater confidence in their ability
to do so. It is intended that clients do not leave coaching
with a perception that they need to rely on a coach in order
to produce similar results in the future.
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