As the coaching industry moves toward self regulation or perhaps government regulation, the question remains as to how exactly coaching is defined. Start with this explanation: Executive, Career, Life, or Business Coaching is a strategic partnership in which the coach empowers the client to clarify goals, create action plans, move past obstacles, and achieve what the client chooses. The Executive, Career, Life, or Business Coach serves the client with a focus on possibilities and follow-through by expanding awareness and developing strategy.
Another significant consideration for understanding coaching is recognizing what it is NOT. Specifically, coaching is not psychology, psychiatry, counseling, therapy, or social work. Each of those professions requires separate training and licensing – and with good reason. Those professionals diagnose, focus on addressing problems from the past, give advice, and / or prescribe. Practicing without a license is illegal and there are cases where a “coach” was actually practicing mental health without a license.
A coach is NOT a mentor, an advisor, a consultant, or a friend. (Note: it is possible to coach a friend depending on the relationship and the boundaries established for coaching.) Each of these rolls calls for giving advice. At the same time, there are many situations where serving in more than one role benefits the client. The key is recognizing which role is being played when and openly discussing that with the client.
What does a coach do? A coach is a sounding board that expands and challenges the thinking of the client. A coach provides perspective and focus. A coach works with the client as the client develops their strategy. A coach serves as an accountability partner and a motivation partner.