What is Coaching?

Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. While the coach provides feedback and an objective perspective, the client is responsible for taking the steps to produce the results he or she desires.

Coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organizations to develop more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. Coaches work with clients in all areas including business, career, finances, health and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

People hire a coach when they are starting a new business, making a career transition, reevaluating their life choices, working toward challenging goals, or simply feeling ready for a personal or professional breakthrough.

We estimate that there are currently 50,000 part-time and full-time coaches worldwide. Coaching has been covered extensively in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Money, USA Today, Fast Company, New Age Journal, Industry Week, Inc., the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Management Review, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Men's Health, Bloomberg Personal, Newsday, etc.


With Respect to Psychotherapy

Who the Client Is The individual coaching client is someone who wants to reach one or more of the following: a higher level of performance, learning, or satisfaction. The client is not seeking emotional healing or relief from psychological pain.

The coaching client can take action to move towards a goal with the support of the coach. The successful client is not excessively limited in the ability to take action or overly hesitant to make this kind of progress.

How Service is Delivered Coaches and clients arrange the schedule and means of contact (e.g., in person, by phone, or via e-mail) that serve them both. They are not constrained to follow a standardized schedule or means of contact.

The Relationship in Coaching A coach relates to the client as a partner. A coach does not relate to the client from a position of an expert, authority, or healer.

Coach and client together choose the focus, format, and desired outcomes for their work. The client does not relinquish the responsibility for creating and maintaining these nor does the coach take full responsibility for them.

Results Coaching is designed to help clients improve their learning and performance, and enhance their quality of life. Coaching does not focus directly on relieving psychological pain or treating cognitive or emotional disorders.

Time Frames Coaching concentrates primarily on the present and future. Coaching does not focus on the past or on the past's impact on the present.

Coaching uses information from the client's past to clarify where the client is today. It does not depend on resolution of the past to move the client forward.

Emotions Coaching assumes the presence of emotional reactions to life events and that clients are capable of expressing and handling their emotions. Coaching is not psychotherapy and emotional healing is not the focus of coaching.

Relationship to Psychotherapy Coaching can be used concurrently with psychotherapeutic work. It is not used as a substitute for psychotherapeutic work.

Advice Advice, opinions, or suggestions are occasionally offered in coaching. Both parties understand that the client is free to accept or decline what is offered and takes the ultimate responsibility for action. The coach is not discouraged from offering advice, opinions or suggestions on occasion.

Requesting A coach makes a request of the client to promote action toward the client's desired outcome. A coach does not make such requests in order to fix the client's problem or understand the client's past.

With Respect to Consulting

Definition: In all of the following statements, the word 'client' is used to denote the person who is being coached, regardless of who is paying for the service.

Expertise Coaches are experts in the coaching process and may not have specific knowledge of a given subject area or industry. Where coaches have expertise in other areas, they may use it to facilitate the coaching process. Coaches do not use this particular expertise to diagnose, direct, or design solutions for the client.

Relationship Relationship is the foundation of coaching. The coach and client intentionally develop a relationship which is characterized by a growing and mutual appreciation and respect for each other as individuals. This relationship is not an adjunct to or byproduct of the coaching. Nor is it based on the client's position or performance.

Use of Information In coaching, information drawn from the client is used by the coach to promote the client's awareness and choice of action. This information is not used to evaluate performance or produce reports for anyone but the person being coached.

Scope Coaching has the freedom and flexibility to address a wide variety of personal and professional topics. In any given coaching relationship, coach and client alone determine the scope of their work. Coaching is not necessarily restricted to a narrowly defined issue nor is its scope determined in any other way.

Contribution to Results In coaching, any contribution the coach makes to producing the client's desired outcome is through on-going interaction with the client. The coach's role does not include producing a contracted product or result outside of the coaching sessions.

Ongoing Impact Coaching is designed to provide clients with a greater capacity to produce results and a greater confidence in their ability to do so. It is intended that clients do not leave coaching with a perception that they need to rely on a coach in order to produce similar results in the future.



For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please click here to open our FAQ document: FAQ's

ICF Ethical Guidelines

The ICF is the leader in developing a definition and philosophy of coaching, as well as establishing a set of ethical standards that ICF members pledge to uphold. The International Coach Federation ("ICF") is committed to high ethical standards for coaches.

The ICF is also committed to providing a forum where the public can bring complaints about alleged unethical conduct by ICF members and ICF credentialed coaches. The ICF adopted a policy and set of procedures that provide for review, investigation and response to alleged unethical practices or behavior deviating from the established ICF Code of Ethics.

For more information on ICF’s Code of Ethics and the Ethical Conduct Review Process please click here to open the ICF Ethical Guidelines document in pdf format: