Focusing on the Transformation: What Coaching Is and Isn't
If you're considering hiring a coach or becoming one yourself, it's important to understand what coaching is and isn't. In this blog post, we'll define coaching and debunk some common misconceptions about it. Discover the true essence of coaching and how it can benefit you in your personal and professional life.
One of the things I love to do in my downtime is listen to podcasts. I'm a massive true crime fan, and have listened to some pretty harrowing podcasts, but the one I have just finished got me in all of the feels, because it's about my industry - coaching.
A Very British Cult is based on an 18-month BBC investigation into the practises of a life coaching company that promises spiritual development and direction to 'help people accomplish their dreams' and overcome life's obstacles.
Instead, it encourages people to invest large sums of money (even their homes) in the organisation in exchange for moving up the spiritual awakening ladder and access to the founder, and his team of high-level entrepreneurs, as well as investment in the growth of the business.
It's both an incredibly terrifying and fascinating listen. From a point of view that I can see how easy it is to put all of your trust in something that you think will make your life a whole lot better, that isn't based on anything solid, and the cult-like behaviour of some of the spiritual and wellbeing, personal development world that preys of people's vulnerabilities and fears.
And, of course, coaching itself, which is a booming - and unregulated - industry. And as it's the industry I myself am in, and teach, my ears (and hairs on the back of my neck) pricked up as I was listening to the podcast.
A lot of people may be skeptical of coaching, having listened to the podcast. And it was interesting to hear the podcast hosts initial views on coaching, and then her outtakes following having - genuine - coaching as part of her research, which served to remind me of the brilliant coaches there are out there, and how positive and powerful coaching really can be.
It can be the conduit for you to get a clear direction of travel, and step out of overwhelm and procrastination. As well as being a bump start from those dreams and ambitions that are collecting dust as you go 'round and 'round in circles wondering how, and what you should be doing.
One of my outtakes from listening to the podcast, is the importance of stating clearly what coaching is, and what it isn't, and creating the healthy boundaries that surround the client & coach relationship, so I'm doing that right here:
What coaching is, and isn't:
- Coaching is a forward-focussed, solutions-based approach. It is not healing, therapy or counselling, which looks into your past, and why you may have things holding you back, and how to move beyond trauma and pain in your past.
- While you may reference things that have gone on in the past, coaching takes the learnings to help you move forward in an empowered and healthy way.
- Coaching works on creating a goal and a vision for something that you want for your life, and helps you make a plan to get there.
- Coaching helps you to find the answers and solutions, because only you know your life and what is the best approach for you. Coaching uses effective listening and reflective questions to help you get to those answers.
- Coaching does not tell you what you should do. If you are working with someone who has a specific set of skills and experience in your field of work, who you are hoping to learn from, then this is more mentoring than coaching. Both are great in their context.
- Coaching is based on a specific outcome set by the client. At no time is this a business opportunity where the coach should ask the client to invest in the growth of the company during their coaching relationship.
- A coaching relationship between client and coach is based on openness, honesty and trust. Everything within that relationship and the sessions is strictly confidential, and held in a supportive, safe, non-judgmental space. At no time would any of what is shared in the sessions - whether in a current working relationship, or completed working relationship - ever ever be shared, or threatened to be shared.
- Coaching is client-led and the focus is around working together on what you want for your life, and your personal development and wellbeing. At no time are there any 'levels' of spiritual and personal development you can attain to you invest more in the coach, or its company.
- Coaching is based on mutual trust and respect for the coaching relationship. That's where the best work is done, and when it is done effectively is incredibly powerful. You should never never feel pressured into making any kind of financial commitment to coaching that is based on high-pressure sales tactics, or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. FULL STOP.
- Coaching is a transformational experience and requires a set of skills to create and hold that space for the client to step into. Coaching is not a regulated industry, but your coach should have formal training and credentials.
It's also important to make sure your coach has proper training and credentials. While coaching is not a regulated industry, a good coach should have formal training and be a member of professional coaching organisations. I've received ICF* and ANLP* accredited training, and am a member of both organisations. As well as having our own Practical Magic Coach Training accredited by the IPHM* as well as following the framework for ICF coaching standards.
Coaching can truly be a transformational experience. It can help you get a clear direction of travel, step out of overwhelm and procrastination, and jump-start those dreams and ambitions that may be collecting dust.
My hope is that the learnings taken from what has happened to people who've been through such horrific experiences, such as those affected in the podcast, that there is a call for regulation in the coaching industry.
It's certainly given me the call to arms to make sure that all coaches who go through the Practical Magic Coaching Certification, and my own coaching continue flying the flag with a framework and standard of excellence and safeguarding, and care for those we are lucky enough to support through our work.
*ICF = International Coaching Federation, ANLP = Association of Neuro Linguistic Programming, IPHM = International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine
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