Coaching

The benefits of coaching

What is coaching?

Although it takes many forms, coaching is the process whereby an experienced person or someone with special skills mentors another person – or group of people – who lack them. As such, as a typical example of a coach would be a football team manager who passes on tactical ideas and ways of developing skills among players, even though he or she does not play in the team. Many managers in commercial businesses consider themselves to be coaches, too. However, being in a position of managerial responsibility does not automatically mean you are a coach. Coaching requires you to take active steps to get the best out of the people you are coaching, whether that means training them, looking for insights into their practices, or simply offering advice.

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What is life coaching?

When coaches get involved in the overall life goals of somebody, this is usually referred to as life coaching. It will mean trying to identify what somebody wants to achieve in life and the barriers that may be preventing them from getting there. A life coach will often have a wide-ranging discussion with the person with whom they are working, in a similar way that a psychologist would. However, life coaches differ because they do not necessarily have any form of clinical training. What they often provide, however, is an insight into things like the work-life balance of the people they are helping, something that can lead to positive changes being made.

Can coaching help depression?

In some cases, coaching is a technique that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Where techniques that can help people who are suffering from depression and anxiety are not being deployed – such as doing more sports and physical exercise, for example – a coach can help to address such issues. The coach can help with the practicalities by coming up with a plan on how to put such actions into place and forming a routine for the person suffering from depression. However, coaching could never be considered a cure for long-term or chronic depression, merely a tool for that support.

What is coaching psychology?

Unlike other forms of coaching, such as sports or acting training, coaching psychology is a field of applied psychology. This fairly new psychological sub-discipline aims to enhance the performance and mental-wellbeing of individuals, organizations, or teams, by combining theories in learning and social psychology with humanistic psychology and positivity theory. Various models are used with this psychological approach, known as GROW, PRACTICE and SPACE, among others. As well as helping individuals, these models are often used with sports teams and in educational settings to help get the best from students. Coaching psychology is also commonly applied to leadership and corporate coaching.

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Which applications for coaching are there?

As mentioned, coaching is used extensively in all sorts of sport, but also to help individuals and students to achieve their life and educational goals. It is also often used to help people with certain disorders, such as ADHD, for example. Another application is in the world of business, where more experienced professionals sometimes mentor employees. It can also be used to help people undergoing a crisis in their personal relationships or marriage. Some people might feel a coach with another perspective can help them get back on track or even to form a new, healthy approach to life and help with goal setting.

What does coaching mean?

Coaching is a transformative way of helping someone move from where they are currently to a new position or level. It is a metaphoric term whereby the coach 'conveys' their trainee rather like a vehicle, such as a bus or coach. However, rather than being physically moved from one place to another, being coached means making an internal change, perhaps by acquiring skills, learning new facts or making a mental adjustment over attitudes and so on. It is often associated with sports training and team management, but it can be applied in many, many areas of life, and today it's become increasingly common to hire a life coach.

Why is coaching important?

Anyone who wants to achieve their full potential can benefit from the wisdom of a coach who can show them the way to make progress. Essentially, being coached well empowers people to excel in whatever chosen field they want to improve in. Of course, this can be achieved by self-help and self-coaching techniques but, in the main, people will turn to a professional coach or a mentor to assist them with the self-improvements they wish to make. In other words, without it, fewer people would reach the fulfilled lives they wish to lead and fall beneath their true potential.

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How does coaching help people?

Coaching helps people in a myriad of ways. Firstly, it is used by sportspeople and athletes to improve their skills, techniques, stamina and strength. In addition, in the arts, it is used to help people become better actors, singers and writers. Coaches can also be found offering business mentoring services, such as sales training, for example. Some people use coaches in their spiritual or religious life, while others use them to help with their personal relationships or dating. Coaches are also available to help people deal with career guidance, schoolwork and even health and mental well-being matters.

Why is coaching important in the workplace?

Lots of people find that their careers reach something of a plateau, and this can cause them to become frustrated. Many bosses have noticed that without coaching their key members of staff, they will lose valued team members who start to look for opportunities elsewhere. Therefore, acting as a coach or a mentor in a senior management role is a way of keeping hold of already trained people, allowing them to acquire the skills they might need to make career progress and land the next promotion opportunity that comes their way. It is a way of making in-house business teams stronger with fewer staff members leaving.

Is training the same as coaching?

In some sense, you can say that it is. However, some distinctions should be drawn between being coached and being trained. If you are trained to do something, then you will learn the basics – the essential skills that you need to complete a task, for example. The idea behind coaching is that it will be more transformative and allow you to carry out the task you have been trained to do to the best of your ability. In the best sense of the word, to coach someone is to enable them to do something better than it has ever been done before.

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Where did coaching come from?

As mentioned previously, the concept of coaching and being coached first gained traction in the field of professional sports. However, the term dates back further to the early part of the nineteenth century when some university students in England were coached by instructors to help them pass crucial exams. The term was coined because it made sure undergraduates who might otherwise have failed, were in a position where they were more likely to pass. Later, the technique went on to be applied also to training amateur rowing teams, and then it became widespread in the field of sports and physical activity.

What does life coaching teach you?

A life coach is someone who takes a holistic approach to the life of an individual and tries to coach them to make improvements on all fronts. Part of the process will involve identifying areas where people want to make improvements in their lives and establishing what their priorities are. Usually, the method involves a great deal of self-empowerment that encourages people to see the resilience they already have inside to achieve their goals. The process will usually involve extending or making more ambitious life targets and using psychological engagement techniques to make them seem more achievable, thereby making them more likely to be attained in the end.

What is co-coaching?

This is a structured method whereby two or more people will coach one another. The principle comes from the idea that two people who are potentially at the top of their game already will not necessarily be able to find a coach who has the skills to help them. As such, they will seek a peer who can coach them instead. Sometimes, top athletes will go down this route, but it is more common for the CEOs of big companies to coach one another and share their ideas to keep them focussed on whatever it is they are trying to achieve in business. That said, any group of people who want to co-coach one another can go about it themselves.


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Which professional bodies regulate coaching?

Firstly, not all coaches are qualified. There are some who operate in an entirely informal way. That said, most sports now self-regulate their coaches in some way, largely due to safeguarding issues centred on how young people and children are coached. Professional coaches will often belong to one or more professional associations, however. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is just one body that regulates its members. Another is the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). There are others and, especially in the United States, university courses allow coaches to gain the qualifications they need to practise professionally.

Can coaching replace counselling?

In some sense, the distinction between counselling and being coached is very fine. Some counsellors will act in a very similar manner to coaches and vice-versa. That said, counselling tends to focus on the blockages that are holding someone back and to think of ways around them so that they do not cause so much harm. Coaches, on the other hand, tend to be centred on moving from A to B and beyond. In other words, they will not always address negative issues but focus on what can be done. Counsellors are more likely to try to get to the root cause of issues while coaches just want to get on and improve performance.

 Coaching Summary

Although coaching is something that is frequently associated with sports or physical skills, it can be deployed in many more subtle ways in classroom and workplace environments. Whether you are talking about business, education, lifestyle or relationship coaches, the aim is always the same – to mentor someone so that they feel as though they have been transported from where they were to a new place having gained more experience on the way. And yet, being a good coach is more than merely being able to teach and to pass on knowledge.

This is because coaches will often do much more than hand over information to their charges – just as a good teacher creates an environment where students feel free to express themselves. In other words, the ability to actively listen, to restate crucial matters eloquently, to question false assumptions and to clarify ideas are all important parts of what makes some coaches more successful than others. This is why coaching is often viewed as an interactive experience for both the coach and the person being coached. In other words, although it is possible to learn some theoretical ideas from a coach by watching a presentation or reading a book, the coach will need to be present in some sense for the process to work. The most usual way is to do this face to face, but coaches can also have some success through virtual meetings and even phone calls where this is not possible.

Many coaches run taster sessions which allow people to get an idea of their approach and to understand a little more about the potential benefits of being coached. In some cases, a strong relationship between the coach and the person being coached can develop. Ethically, however, coaches should not allow such a relationship to become too personal and remain operating within professional standards.


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