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Friday, December 18, 2015

What Is Coaching? Frequently Asked Questions

Professional Effectiveness

Professional Effectiveness

By Julie Cohen, Professional Certified Coach

What is coaching? Coaching is a professional partnership to assist you in achieving more fulfilling results in your personal and professional life. Through coaching, you focus on the skills and actions needed to successfully produce personally and professionally relevant results.

What does the coaching process look like? Coaching begins with an initial session to assess your current opportunities and challenges, to define the scope of the coaching relationship, to identify priorities for action, and to establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions are scheduled two to three times each month. Between scheduled coaching sessions, you may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of your personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments, or models, to support your thinking and actions.

Where do we meet? Coaching sessions occur over the phone creating the most flexibility for you. Julie Cohen Coaching has clients throughout the US, Canada. Europe and Asia. Some ‘in-person’ sessions may be scheduled for organizational clients wishing to provide on-site coaching for their employees.

What should someone look for when selecting a coach? The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is someone with whom you feel you can easily relate to and can create the most powerful partnership. Additional considerations include the coach’s experience, specific coach training completed, attainment of ICF credentials, coaching success stories and coaching philosophies.

How long does a coach work with an individual? The length of a coaching partnership varies depending on your needs and preferences. For certain types of focused coaching, 3 to 6 months of working with a coach may be sufficient. For other types of coaching, people may find it beneficial to work with a coach for a longer period. On average, Julie works with clients for 6 to 12 months. A three-month commitment is encouraged to experience the impact of the process, but it is not required.

How do I get started? Prospective clients arrange a complimentary coaching consultation. During this phone session, you’ll share your situation and what you want to accomplish with coaching. This will allow Julie to understand how she can best support you and will allow you to experience coaching with Julie. If you decide to move forward with the coaching work, you will receive Coaching Introductory Materials which include various exercises and assessments that set the foundation for future sessions.

How is coaching distinct from therapy and other service professions? Professional coaching is a distinct service which focuses on your life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management. In an effort to understand what a coach is, it can be helpful to distinguish coaching from other professions that provide personal or organizational support.

  • Therapy. Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through.
  • Consulting. Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
  • Mentoring. Mentoring, which can be thought of as guiding from one’s own experience or sharing of experience in a specific area of industry or career development, is sometimes confused with coaching. Although some coaches provide mentoring as part of their coaching, such as in mentor coaching new coaches, coaches are not typically mentors to those they coach.
  • Training. Training programs are based on the acquisition of certain learning objectives as set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path which coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum plan.
  • Athletic Development. Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from the traditional sports coach. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but it is the experience and knowledge of the individual or team that determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

Thank you to the International Coach Federation [ICF] for providing a majority of the above FAQ.


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