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The Practice of Coaching

What is Coaching?

There is not a universally accepted one line definition of coaching. Anyone can theoretically refer to themselves as a Coach in much the same way as they could position themselves as a Consultant or Expert.

Furthermore, Coaches, both accredited and non-accredited, will have their own fields of specialism, preferred coaching tools and techniques, and individual approaches.

​It is, however, possible to broadly define coaching as a practice and differentiate it from other forms of intervention such as counselling, mentoring and performance management.

Image by Modestas Urbonas
Some useful definitions of Coaching


Coaching constitutes an equal partnership between the Coach and the Client.

  • The role of the Coach is not that of an Expert, Teacher, Consultant or Guru.

  • Coaching aims to create a safe, supportive, structured, and confidential space in which the client feels empowered to define and explore the areas/ challenges on which he/she wishes to work.


Coaching aims to facilitate learning and development which is personal and meaningful to the Client.

  • Central to the Coaching process is assisting the client to develop greater self-awareness and to apply this knowledge optimally in the pursuit of personal and professional goals.

  • Coaching aims to broaden the client's perspective as to the choices, strengths, and resources, both internal and external, which he/ she can bring to bear in pursuit of his/ her goals.


Coaching is non-judgemental and non-prescriptive.

  • Unlike mentoring a Coach does not need specialist subject matter knowledge of the issues brought to coaching.

  • A Coach's role is to not to impose their own preferred solutions nor to advocate a particular course of action


Coaching aims to identify and challenge patterns of thinking and behaviour which are preventing the client from moving forward.

  • A Coach works with a client to surface and understand limiting beliefs, behaviours and habits which are keeping them stuck and potentially sabotaging their efforts to move forward.

  • A Coach encourages a client to take a more balanced, compassionate, and positive view of himself/ herself.


Coaching is primarily a future-oriented, action-oriented intervention.

  • A Coach's role is to encourage the Client to identify and take actions which will move them closer to their stated goals.

  • Coaching aims to understand and provide ongoing support in bridging the gap between where the client sees himself/ herself to be and where he/ she aspires to get to.

  • Rather than drilling down into the past to establish the root causes of problems, as many counselling interventions endeavour to do, the focus of Coaching is primarily around identifying changes that can be made in the present which serve as a catalyst for future progress.

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