Monday, July 28, 2008

What is Coaching actually

Courtesy from: Dr. L.Michael Hall
While coaching is conversation, coaching is not warm and fuzzy chat. Nor is it teaching, training, or advice giving. It is not being an expert in a domain-specific content. Coaching is about facilitating through questioning, giving feedback, and operating as an expert in process or structure about how we run our own brains for more effective performances. Coaching is distinct from the following professional fields. It is not consulting, mentoring, counseling or therapy, training or even a hypnosis session. If it is clearly falling into these categories, what is it?

As a skill-based process the skill of training is that of teaching, educating and drilling a person through a process where he or she is enabled to perform the new skills.

Mentoring as a process of focusing on a particular skill, knowledge, or experience, the skill involves giving advice, guidance, and sharing one's own personal story. In mentoring, there is an unequal relationship, senior mentor passing on specific information to a younger and less experienced person.

Therapy focuses on problems, their sources, the symptoms that result from those problems, how people are broken and dysfunctional, diagnosis of such disorders. The skill of therapy is that of healing hurts, re-parenting, and bringing resolution to personal pain.


Consulting involves the skill of giving advice and using one's own expertise in a given field to inform a client what to do. While consulting can be facilitative, it also involved procedures and expert knowledge and skills.


Seemed like a dangerous tool. Using gestures, words, and tones hypnotically enables us to induce a person into a hypnotic state for accessing new resources. Hypno-therapy for health, psychology and self-development involves the skill of speaking and communicating to induce trances.

The Coaching Dance

The distinctions between these professional modalities does not mean that a coach never engages in them nor does it completely eliminate these functions. There is a plce for consulting, training, mentoring, counseling, doing therapy, hypnosis and etc. The critical point is knowing when and how to step in and out of the coaching role.

When to Consult
In coaching, we first consult to develop a coaching contract with clients. We do not start coaching from the beginning of our contact with a new client or potential client. Prior to coaching, we consult with people showing the benefits and values of coaching. We engage in an explorative needs analysis and then make suggestions and may even begin the process of helping the client develop a well-formed outcome about being coached.

When to Train
We use training and mentoring when a client lacks the necessary models, knowledge, and skills. Shifting to these functions enable us to provide the models and skills and then to shift back to coaching them.

When to Counsel or Perform Therapy
It will be when is the boundary? Is it merely when a client feels sad or down? Is it when a client remembers something from the past? Is it when we address a problem? The answers to these questions are not simple.Therapy and counseling usually focuses on and addresses therapeutic issues of thought-emotion which undermines a client's ability to be in the moment, assume responsibility, an operate from a position of power and optimism (ego-strength)

With coaching, memories and emotions will emerge, new experiences arise and sometimes a client will become unresourceful in a way that is best dealt with by shifting from coaching to counseling. Without some form of criteria for where to create a boundary between these, this can seriously challenge a coach.Where and how we draw a line? The following criteria may give some good pointer: 1) There is the need to heal past hurts and traumas, 2) The client needs to increase ego-strength first in order to face what is, 3) The client needs to own his or her own person and to completely step out of any vestiges of a victim mentality, 4) The client needs to be reparented and so is highly susceptible to transference and counter-transference issues.

The Style of Coaching Dance
As a way of interacting with people, coaching is a collaborative relationship designed to facilitate higher level performance.
Personal and relational: It's a collaborative relationship that involves a working alliance that aims to empower the client.
Facilitative and supportive: The coach supports and facilitates top-notch behaviors in service of a desired outcome.
Solution and goal-oriented: It aims at developing the client's skills and finding better solutions to things. It is not remedial or therapeutic.

I shall share more information on my next posting coaching perspective in Meta Level namely Meta-Coaching.

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