What am I getting myself into?
(A.k.a. frequently asked questions)
What is Coaching?
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "a powerful alliance designed to forward and enhance the lifelong process of human learning, effectiveness, and fulfillment." As a member of the ICF and the alliance of Co-Active Coaches, I adhere to a form of coaching that honors each client as the expert in his/her personal and/or professional life. Coaches ask questions, listen, and empower - rather than instruct and advise. My responsibility as a coach is to:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what my client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client as responsible and accountable.
When and Why Would I Hire a Life Coach?
Life coaching adresses your whole life - there are no limits or preconceived notions around when and why you would work with a coach. In general, it makes sense to hire a coach if you desire to move your life forward. On one end of the continuum, many clients have chosen to work with coaches when they are stuck or in search of more meaning in their lives. Conversely, clients seek coaches when they are experiencing success and want even more! Many see coaching as a relationship that holds them accountable to their own dreams. Life coaching can target and/or move fluidly through areas such as: career, family & friends, relationships, fun & recreation, health, money, personal growth, and physical environment.
In each of our sessions, you will choose the focus of the conversation. The focus could be something specific you would like to work on or simply a reflection of where you are in that moment. As a coach, I will listen, contribute observations and ask questions. I may even challenge you, make requests, and assign “homework.” All of this is for the sake of your purpose and agenda – toward creating the life you really want to have.
How Does Coaching Work?
Together, we will design a structured alliance that best supports your growth and learning. This coaching alliance could include in-person or phone sessions, email communication, set times or open fluid dialogue. It could also include soft elements such as how we want to interact together (for example: as your coach, you would like me to tell you when I observe a certain behavior). Change takes place over time and as such, I highly recommend an initial commitment of three months to the coaching relationship. Minimally, we will contract one month at a time. It is all up to us to create!
What is a Discovery Session?
One of the unique aspects of our coaching relationship is that it is a relationship of design. The purpose of our first meeting together is to design the alliance between us. This begins with discovering the necessary background and other personal information that will be useful while working together. This session also provides you with an introduction to some of the specific tools and language that I will use frequently in our interactions. Some topics we discuss may include:
- What you would like in a coach
- Areas you are interested in exploring with a coach
- Your personal values and core motivation
- Your life purpose/vision
- Where you are today - achievements and challenges
Although we will spend time on designing our alliance up front, this is not a one-time deal. The process continues throughout the relationship, whereby you can redesign me as your coach as we go along. From time to time, you may also hear me check in and ask permission to tweak and change things as well.
How is Coaching Different from Counseling or Therapy?
The Coaches Training Institute explains the difference: “Psychotherapy generally deals with people with emotional/behavioral problems and disruptive situations – and seeks to bring the client to normal function by focusing on dysfunction. The primary focus is on healing. Coaching, on the other hand, deals with functional people who want to move toward higher function – and achieve excellence while creating an extraordinary life. The primary focus is on evolving and manifestation of potential. And, healing is often a side effect.”
My coaching approach (Co-Active) holds that you are creative, resourceful and whole, that you already have the answers within and that nothing is broken or needs fixing. If at anytime in our coaching we discover an area that I do not feel comfortable coaching in, I will refer you to another professional for more in-depth healing work.
Do Coaches Have to Be Certified or Licensed?
Not necessarily. While coaching is a not a new profession, the recent surge in demand and those pursuing this career has surfaced the need to create professional standards of conduct, ethical guidelines, and professional designations. Although many coaches still practice independent of these, most serious professional coaches seek out accredited certification programs and obtain their professional designation through the International Coach Federation (ICF) or an accredited program. The ICF is the professional association of personal and business coaches that sees to preserve the integrity of coaching around the globe.
Where Can I Find Out More Information on Coaching?
ICF (www.coachfederation.org)is the primary resource for both information and the accreditation of coaching professionals. The Coaches Training Institute, under which I am studying and obtaining certification, is an ICF accredited training program and their website (www.thecoaches.com) also offers a wealth of information on coaching and credentialing.
Does Coaching Really Work?
Coaching has been proven effective creating desired change in both personal and business arenas. A recent Harvard Business Review article, The Wild West of Executive Coaching (November 2004) explains, “Coaching engages with people in customized ways that acknowledge and honor their individuality. It helps people know themselves better, live more consciously, and contribute more richly. The essentially human nature of coaching is what makes it work - and also what makes it nearly impossible to quantify.”
Coaching’s unique design provides a safe and trusting space for the client to explore paths to clarity and movement in their life. The coaching structure also affords dedicated accountability for the client’s continuous action and learning; and sometimes more importantly – a champion when the client is facing the certain obstacles of any significant change. When coaching “really works” it is because both coach and client strive to design and redesign the relationship to serve the purpose.
You understand that the power of the coaching relationship can only be granted by you - and you agree to do just that - grant the coaching relationship power. When you see the coaching is not working as desired, you agree to communicate and take actions to return the power to the coaching relationship.