International Coach Federation (ICF), which regroups over 16 000 members worldwide defines professional coaching as an “ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses, or organizations. (…) With each meeting, the client chooses the focus of the conversations, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and moves the client into action. Coaching accelerates the client’s progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future.”
David Skibbins (2007, Becoming a Life Coach) suggests that coaching roots are in the approach Plato describes in Meno, the account of a dialogue between Socrates and Meno, a young boy slave. Meno asks Socrates if virtue could be taught. Socrates suggests that if they both have to determine if virtue could be taugh, they have to define virtue first. Their dialogue continues in the same spirit.
This is the essence of coaching. A client comes to a life coach with some questioning. This could be at a very personal level — the client’s search for spirituality or his life purpose — or relative to a single aspect of his life like his work, his couple relationship or simply the deep inner dissatisfaction feeling about his life in general. Coach then suggests exploring the subject together, without imposing himself as an expert. Through a series of questions and voiced thoughts, the life coach brings the client to elaborate his own understanding of the problem he brought to his coach in the first place. This opens the door to two fundamental elements for a satisfying change. The client himself: 1) designs a solution he is comfortable with. 2) chooses the way to arrive there without to put out of balance the satisfying aspects of his life. 3) walks this path by taking actions. His coach will strongly support him on the way, helping him to keep moving towards his goals through homework or assignments between coaching sessions. Dialogue between client and coach will go on through multiple instances, or sessions. It will spread from the initial conversation, up to when the client has reached his goals.
Sometimes a client requests coaching services because he looks for the best way to reach an objective someone else imposed to him, at work by example. In addition, a client is not necessary an individual. Coaches work with groups too, by example, a team who must meet specific objectives. Work environment coaching is called organizational or corporate coaching. Individual or group coaching, the approach is about the same. Methods are adapted though, in order to work more effectively.
In a coaching relationship, the client is not in psychological distress and fully in charge of the whole decision process. Therefore, it is important to state that a coaching relationship is neither a therapeutic session, nor a consultation process. See Coaching vs Therapy vs Consultation for more about this.
In conclusion, the objective of life coaching is to help a client (or group-client) to find his own way to change when comes the need, to assume full responsibility of change, and to take all credits for results.
In that spirit, contact me for a free exploration session.