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Alice Galleway

Alice Galleway

How coaching is essentially different from other helping professions

The word “coaching” often creates some confusion, when added to the mix of “consulting”, ”counselling”, “mentoring”, “training” and even “therapy”. Those words are often used interchangeably because of their common points which make cause such confusion. They all have their place to develop individuals. However, they are all different, require peculiar skills, approaches and even outcomes. What follows is our explanation of our perception of the distinction between coaching and others helping professions or development approaches. We aim here to help you to choose the right one, because working with the right professional can indeed take you to new heights.

How coaching is essentially different from … Consulting

The consultant is a “subject matter expert”, who provides the answer that is considered to be the best for you. Consultants tap into their specific expertise with the assumption that they will diagnose problems, defines solutions to your issues, with the option to consult on the implementation on those remedies.

In coaching it is held that the best answers is inside you because you are the expert of your life. Your coach will not tell you what to do and will not take the superior position “the one who knows better”. On the contrary, your coach taps into your own experience, capabilities, knowledge and wisdom. Your coach supports you in accessing your truth to find the most effective answer for yourself. Your coach provides supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks to generate your own solutions and find in the answers you are looking for inside yourself. A coach combines clarity, accountability and support.

A coach is like a partner, while consultant is more like an advisor.

… Therapy

Therapy tends to focus on understanding and healing pain, conflicts, past experiences and asks “Why” and “From Where”. Therapists diagnose and treat mental illness. They analyze and look upon origins and historical roots of the main internal issues. They explore the genesis of behaviors.

The coach sees both parties as naturally creative, resourceful and whole. The coach is trained to work with fully functioning and capable individuals who are able to form an alliance and have common goals. Both coach and clients are on a peer basis, focusing on evolving and manifesting potential. The emphasis is on present and future, not on the past. The coach doesn’t ask “why and from where”, but “what’s now / what’s next”. Accountability in coaching is very important. Your coach focuses on taking action and moving toward your desired goal, aspiration and fulfillment. While positive feelings may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in your work or personal life.

Coaching does not replace therapy.

It should be acknowledged that both disciplines works side-by-side. They focus on helping people make changes and accomplish goals which are really important for them. They both use a discovery session/interview and may work with emotional material.

… Mentoring

It refers to a developmental relationship between a more experienced person (mentor) and less experienced partners in order to obtain information, good examples, and enlightenment, as they progress. Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching. Although highly skilled, mentors often provide some level of coaching; the focus is on information and teaching.

A coach will assist, challenge and encourage rather than direct, advise or teach. Coaching will help you if you are in need to develop personally, either to more effectively to reach personal or professional goals or to deal effectively with current working issues. Coaching will help you to work out what you need to do yourself to improve, what motivates or demotivates you (attitudes, prejudices, preconceptions, assumptions).

… Training

Training is about transferring new knowledge, information and skills through instruction and explanation. Programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. The focus is to put on linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum.

Although objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or by the team with guidance provided by the coach. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum. The focus is to put on development more than learning.

… Managing

Managing is a leadership activity where the manager oversees the work of others, set expectations which others “should” fulfill. Policies, directives and initiatives flow downward from the “top”. Managing is driving the team toward performance by delegating, giving feedback, monitoring progress, making decisions and dealing with conflicts. A manager is also an “arbiter” of outcomes and of what happens. The hierarchical link is vertical. Managers solve problems and have the task done.

In coaching the relation is at a horizontal level and offers a peer-to-peer partnership where mutual solutions are considered and generated. There is no directives. You set expectations for yourself about what you want to create. Your coach will explore with you your challenges in order to overcome your limits, holding you accountable. The coach will tell the whole truth. Discussions are 100% authentic, while in managing, it could be difficult to create such a space so that the “real you” arises. Coaching drives development and change.

By learning how to think, talk and act like a coach, managers can fulfill their responsibility to deliver enhanced performance and build a culture of trust within their team members.

… Friendship

A supportive friend can be a wonderful sounding board and cheerleader but cannot provide the powerful questions and direction that a coach can offer. There is no professional focus held for the other, both parties share their life issues and triumphs. Generally, both judgment and evaluation are freely shared in a friendship, with a bias as to what your friend “should do”.

A professional coach brings unique skills, new perspectives and objectivity without emotional attachment to the client choice. Your coach listens focusing on you only, without any judgment and evaluation. Your coach has no vested interest in which decision you make. Your coach supports and follows up with your personal agreements (in a friendship, there is generally no organised follow up). Your coach will elicit your talents, values and life purpose and support you to bear these in mind when making decisions.

As a coach, it is part of our role to explore your coaching need and establish the appropriate requirement or development approaches.

We have creating formal frameworks to structure our coaching and mentoring sessions to ensure you will benefit at the best. The boundaries and ethics by which a Beyond Borders Careers Coach™ operate can be found on the ICF website.

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