It is important for both the client and the coach to know what coaching is and what coaching is not. More specifically, when to refer a client to another professional that can better serve the client’s needs. An example could be to refer a client who suffers from depression to a psychiatrist. Unless you have the skill set to deal with that client. In that case you need to ensure the client knows that is not be a traditional coaching agreement.
Coaches are trained in very specific and different skills and methodologies than those of a psychologist or counselors etc. So certain behavioral problems may not be appropriate to deal with under the label of coaching. It may be appropriate to suggest they contact their local GP, or refer them to another health professional.
Examples of this could be, drug misuse, mental illness, suicidal, alcohol misuse, domestic violence, resistance to being coached or fear of the coach, food misuse (bulimia, anorexia) or a danger to others.
You may find it useful to have the contact details of trusted professionals to be able to refer clients too. It is important to be clear and upfront with the client about your duties and role as a coach.
Here are some examples of differences between coaching and other professions.
Coaching is not Therapy.
Therapy talks about a patient and something is wrong with the client. Often dealing with the past. In coaching we are interested in assisting the client with setting of goals and moving towards a compelling future.
In therapy the therapist often diagnoses the patient and seeks to heal a broken client. In coaching we believe our clients are not broken and want to create a better future. In therapy the therapist suggests to have the answer, where as in coaching, the coach encourages the client to generate the answer. Coaching is action orientated and about getting the client from where they are to where they want to be.
Coaching is not Consulting.
Consultants are experts in their fields. They either sell their expert advice or assist their clients in completing a specific project. Consultants are hired to solve problems. Consultants normally take credit for the work or results achieved. Consultants maintain their “expert” position and rarely get involved in fields outside of their expertise. Consultants don’t often affect the personal development of their clients.
In business coaching as an example, the client is going to do the work. They will discover and utilize their most productive strategies, values, and other modalities already at their disposal but not fully utilizing. Focus is on the client in achieving his coaching goals and objectives. In coaching the coach does not have to be an expert in the specific area the client wants to be coached on. Coaching is process based and not content based. In fact it can be beneficial for a client if the coach has no expertise in the client’s field, as the coach then has no preconceived ideas of how that particular field “Should” operate.
Coaching is not Training.
Trainers are usually experts in their fields who teach their students various processes, methods or skills. Typically trainers focus on teaching you a particular skill and not necessarily on you improving as a person. Trainers and their clients generally form a loose teacher/ student relationship which is not usually close and is not confidential. With training the students are instructed what to do and often have little control over the process or outcome.
Coaching on the other hand is designed to assist the client to discover and get in charge of the mental processes occurring naturally inside them self. In coaching everything is confidential. The coaching process will give the client tools to be able to learn many new skills in various areas of their lives.
Coaching is not Mentoring.
Mentors focus on providing advice and wisdom gathered through experience. Mentors are often older and have knowledge in the particular area that they are mentoring the “mentee.” Mentors have been known to help in your improvement as a person when you allow yourself to become the subject.
In coaching we don’t offer advice as to what to do. The coach works with the client so that the client can utilize his own capabilities; discovering and understanding the client’s intrinsic abilities. The coach can assist in maximizing those abilities to make it possible for the client to take the actions necessary to achieve his desired results. Coaching concentrates on the client implementing the best strategies to achieve the desired goals and objectives. The coach may or may not have experience in the specific area that the client wants to be coached in. Many coaches do have experience in these areas, example business coaches may have run their own businesses. However it is not mandatory. Coaching is more personal growth, where mentoring is more knowledge transfer.
Coaching is not Psychology.
Psychotherapy is an interpersonal, relational intervention used by trained psychotherapists to help their clients with problems of living. This usually includes increasing individual sense of well-being and reducing subjective discomfort through the process of lengthy discussion. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behaviour change; that is designed to improve the mental health of their patient or patient group.
In coaching, the client does not spend a lot of time wallowing about “the problem.” The focus is on discovering the structure of what prevents the client from achieving his goals and changing the structure to make the goals achievable. Coaching does not focus on the client’s past but on his future goals and objectives and the overall development and growth of the client during the process of achieving those objectives.
Directive compared to Non-Directive coaching.
There are many different approaches to coaching and this is where the definitions of coaching may and have become a little blurred.
Non-Directive coaching is coaching in the true sense of the word and what you are going to learn during your NLP coach training. Non-directive coaching is where the coach simply asks questions to allow a client to find their own solutions, expand their awareness or way forward. A non-directive coach will not offer advice and rarely even give suggestions. Although through skillful questioning the coach will help the client to see the situation from different perspectives, gain clarity, uncover options and challenge inconsistencies. Holding the person accountable to his/her actions. This is typically what we talk about when we talk about coaching.
Directive coaching on the other hand is where the coach offers solutions, tools and techniques for solving a problem. The client may like to be offered solutions, however the danger is that the client may not take ownership of the solution. They may therefore not feel fully committed to the solution provided.
There are a number of people who are operating as coaches, who give clients advice or tell them what to do. This does not meet the ICF guidelines and is not what coaching is about. If the client wants specific solutions or to be told what to do, then you are not coaching them.
So in summary, coaching stands on its own as a methodology to assist your clients in getting the results they want. There is a form of coaching we call blended coaching. This is a combination of primarily coaching, with other methodologies the coach may be trained in. We will look at blended coaching in a future post.
If you want to find out more about the coaching courses offered by Coaching with NLP, simply contact us today and we will be more than happy to help.