What is Coaching? Part 1

Written by Michael Jospe Posted in Professional Coaching

Part 1: Coach or Professional Coach

What is Coaching?  Part 1

Some of my Nature-Connected Coaching students have talked to me about their hesitation in labeling themselves as coaches. They told me that they have come against a “negative stigma”  about coaches in their networking for new clients. This conversation has inspired these next two blog posts on Professional Coaching.

There is a big difference between being a coach and being a professional coach. Today, there are many people calling themselves coaches who in fact have no formal training in the practice. Likewise, many training programs exist that use the term "coaching" simply because they don’t know how else to appraise the skills they are offering, or they believe they will avoid some misappropriation by labeling their practice “coaching” rather than "therapy" or "counseling."
Like the words “therapy” and “therapist”, “coach” and “coaching” are not owned by any one profession. It’s true - anyone who is helping, guiding, or supporting another in their journey towards self-improvement may call themselves a “coach”, just as anyone who helps another person feel better can call them selves a “therapist” of some kind. There are many people out there who, indeed, are born to be listeners, helpers and guides. They help people every day and yet, they have no formal training. Is it wrong for these individuals to call themselves coaches? For perhaps that’s who they are, at their core. Is it wrong for them to trade skill, passion and vision in exchange for money? Personally, I don’t think so. 

But, it is a misuse of power when someone cuts the corners insofar as the critical path of experience and training, and uses professional titles for personal gain, essentially capitalizing upon the pain and struggling of others. Of course, making a living is a necessary component of what it means to exist in the modern world, but misuse of power gives coaching a bad name. This appropriation creates negative stigma that Professional Coaches must navigate as they network to generate clientele (For example - "coach" means: presumptuous life-coach who will tell me what to do to change my life. Or, wannabe therapist. Or, athletic coach. Or trainer, etc.)

In contrast, Professional Coaching is a credentialed career path that requires a fairly rigorous combination of education and practicum, as well as approval by an overseeing organization: The International Coach Federation (ICF). Earth-Based Institute’s Nature-Connected Coach training program is approved by the ICF as a Professional Coach training program.

Professional Coaching is a modality that supports personal and professional change and growth. It is different from other forms of coaching, such as Athletic Development Coaching, as well as from psychotherapy, consulting and mentoring.

Here are some of the ways the ICF defines Professional Coaching:

  • “ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” 
  • “Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole.” 
  • “The coach's responsibility is to: Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve; Encourage client self-discovery; Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; Hold the client responsible and accountable” 
  • “Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change.”
  • “Coaching […] supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. 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 emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow-through.”
  • “With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.”
  • “The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives. “
  • “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.”

As a Professional Coach, you are always striving to take yourself out of the equation of your client's growth by putting the power of insight and direction entirely in the client’s hands. As a coach, you are showing your clients that they already have everything that they need to make the change that they are called to make. In other words, one might say that a measurement of good coaching is when your clients gain such confidence in themselves that they no longer need you!

What is the role of a Professional Coach? Learn more in Part 2!

Apply Now

Learn more about our programs

About the Author