Frequently Asked Questions About Coaching

Presented by Coach Sandy

What is coaching?
The former Professional and Personal Coaches Association defined coaching as "an ongoing relationship which focuses on clients taking action toward the realization of their visions, goals or desires. Coaching uses a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build the client's level of awareness and responsibility, and provides the client with structure, support, and feedback."

The current International Coach Federation defines coaching as "an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance their quality of life. Beginning with the client's desires, coaching uses reporting, exploring, and a consistent commitment to action to move the client forward. Coaching accelerates the client's progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are today and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be tomorrow."

What specifically is academic coaching?
Academic coaching is a designed alliance between a coach and a student for the purpose of fostering success skills in an educational environment. It is an individualized process that facilitates goal clarification and achievement. The purpose of academic coaching is to stimulate and motivate students toward their scholastic goals by providing structure, support, and feedback.

What are some of the things coaching can help me with?

How is coaching different from psychotherapy?
Coaching is very different from psychotherapy. Psychotherapy deals with healing psychological issues and is generally long term and intensive dealing with inter- and intra- personal issues as well as cognitive and behavioral development. The focus is often on past history and how it relates to that individual's development. Coaching is very proactive and does not deal with psychological issues. Coaching acknowledges personal issues, but focuses on skill development and implementation of new strategies that benefit the client in achieving their goals and becoming more fulfilled and better equipped to meet life's daily challenges. Coaching helps the individual learn new behaviors and habits and even new ways of thinking to overcome areas of difficulties. The agenda is client initiated and uses the process of discovery and inquiry to learn. Coaching may often involve designing your environment to meet your own particular needs in a way that is comfortable and appropriate for you. A coach will help you enhance your skills and will help you build awareness and responsibility toward your endeavors.

How does coaching usually work?
The coach and client design an alliance together that is synergistic in nature. They co-engineer the process as a team, so as to avoid a situation of "nagging". The roles of each are clearly defined in the beginning. Together they decide what to do and how to do it. A system of accountability is set up that is comfortable for both. The process for this is designed so the client will feel pulled toward their goal instead of pushed. They decide where to begin and what to do together. The arrangements for support and financial compensation are usually agreed upon in the initial visit. Some coaches require signed contracts for a specific coaching term with the number and length of coaching sessions agreed upon in advance and some coaches put together coaching "packages" to meet their client's needs, with flexibility built in. Coaching can be done by appointment in person at the clients home or workplace, in the office, over the phone, by e-mail, by fax, or a combination the four. The coach may work with the client alone or be part of a team, working directly or indirectly with the client's therapist, physician, and or employer.

Can a friend or family member be my coach?
Using people such as supervisors, spouses, and friends as coaches can be done, but may be difficult. It takes a very carefully co-engineered agreement to make it work well. Each person must be very clear about what is to be accomplished by the coaching and how it is to be done. Careful attention in sticking to what you both have defined is needed for it to work well. Using people who are close to us as coaches, often generates feelings of inadequacy and frustration due to the nature of the relationship and coaching can often be perceived as "nagging". Attending a coaching seminar or training on how to be an effective coach for some one can be a valuable experience and worth the investment. If you are designing a coaching relationship with a non-professional, both you and your coach must take it seriously for it to work well. A professional coach as a neutral person in the life of an individual will avoid the strong feelings that may be attached to a spouse or supervisor. Thus the coach can offer suggestions and reminders, provide structure and boundaries and be perceived by the client as helpful and supportive. Coaching can be the client's way of designing an environment that will be tailored to their own unique needs and not the perceived needs of some one close to them.

How can coaching help an individual with attention deficit disorder?
Time management and organizational skills are often improved with coaching for the ADDer. Having a warm, supportive, safe environment in which to learn new skills is often very important especially to the adult with ADD who has experienced criticism and negativity growing up. Good ADD coaches understand attention deficit disorder and the challenges it presents to the coaching process in terms of distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Helping ADDers develop healthy life style patterns is beneficial in the management of their ADD symptoms. Coaching is a comfortable way to learn and implement these new skills. Coaches help to foster good diet, sleeping patterns, exercise habits and other areas of self-nurturing. Coaches also help clients with feelings of being overwhelmed and off track to avoid "shutting down", or "burning out". Coaching can help the ADDer learn to select target areas to concentrate on to function more efficiently and manage their challenges with ease.

How is life coaching different from other kinds of coaching?
The process of life coaching is not very different from other kinds of coaching. It is the content and context that varies. Coaches and the concept of coaching are found everywhere. Coaching is common in the theater, sports, music, and business. Coaching is a process we are all involved with naturally on a daily basis as mothers, fathers, spouses, siblings, friends, employers, employees, teachers and students. We often are aware of what changes we would like to make in our daily lives, but don't know how to make those changes or we don't commit to doing it. Often we just don't invest the time or money in the process or we don't know where to start. That is where a life coach can be of help. Coaching provides the focus, support and accountability to make the changes that we are unable to make through other sources of support in our lives. To make steady progress toward a goal means defining the goal into long term and short term components and keeping on track with the process once it has been defined. Assessment of an individual's strengths and weaknesses, and learning how to compensate for the weaknesses, is an important part of the process of coaching and has been done for centuries by those who excel at what they do.

How much time is involved with coaching and what does it cost?
You can invest as much, or as little, time and money in coaching as you feel you can afford. A little coaching is better than nothing, and intensive one-on-one can produce amazing results in a relatively short period of time compared to struggling on one's own. A coaching relationship may last a few visits, or extend over the years, as a part of a client's plan for self development. Coaching can be more affordable in group settings that encourage co-coaching between participants with the supervision of a professional facilitator to answer questions and concerns, as well as encourage appropriately designed coaching agreements. The average coaching relationship usually lasts several months, with weekly visits sometimes tapering off to monthly coaching sessions. Daily coaching check-ins may often be a part of the initial process to help establish new habits. Fees vary according to the type of coaching services, the geographical location, and the qualifications and experience of the coach.

Does coaching work for everyone?
Unfortunately not. A client has to be willing to be accountable for his behavior as well as his intentions. A client has to want to change inside and to follow that through by corrective measures. When the outcome is not as expected, he or she can't point a finger at his/her boss, husband, or school. Coaching requires a commitment to day by day, hour by hour work and sometimes even minute by minute work. It's a lot like body building, if you don't get to the gym, you're not going to see the results in the mirror. It's hard work sometimes, but the payoffs can be big in terms of self-esteem and enjoyment of life. It's my personal opinion as a coach that everyone deserves to have a coach, especially coaches!


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