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Coaching is "a professional relationship" that assists people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses, or organizations, helping them to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaches partner with their clients to design the life they want, bring out their clients’ own brilliance and resources so that they can achieve excellence and create purposeful, extraordinary lives. By creating clarity, coaching moves the client into action, accelerating their progress by providing greater focus and awareness of all the possibilities which exist to create fulfilling lives."

ILCT founder Patrick Williams described coaching as

“a powerful, human relationship where trained coaches assist people to design their future rather than help them get over their past . . . coaches aid clients in creating visions and goals for ALL aspects of their lives and in creating multiple strategies to support achieving those goals. Coaches recognize the brilliance of each client and their personal power to discover their own solutions when provided with support, accountability, and unconditional, positive regard.”

— Therapist as Life Coach, 2007

Where did the concept of coaching originate?

There have always been “coaches” of some sort in society. It might have been the town priest, the shaman, an elder (grandfather, uncle), or some other mentor relationship.

The first use of the term coaching to mean an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who "carries" a student through an exam. Coaching thus has been used in language to describe the process used to transport people from where they are to where they want to be. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1861.

Historically the evolution of coaching has been influenced by many fields of study including group awareness training, personal development, adult education, the Human Potential Movement, positive psychology, and leadership studies. Since the mid-1990s, coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and professional associations have helped develop a set of training standards. Many executives hired outside consultants as coaches or mentors to give them an outside and unbiased view of their business life and get help with their personal life as well.

Now coaching is seen as both valuable and convenient to the general public for assistance in “total life coaching.” Due to the “formal” training available to prospective coaches who come from a variety of disciplines and work experience, the general public can now find a personal coach who is well trained to assist them in achieving their big goals and desires in their personal or their professional life.

What is the philosophy behind coaching?

The underlying philosophy behind coaching is that we humans have immeasurable resources of energy, wisdom, ability, and genius waiting to be set in motion. We can create the life we want faster and more easily by partnering with a coach who helps us utilize these resources to facilitate change and realize our potential.

Like many aspects of Positive Psychology and “solution focused” therapies coaches are focus on behavior change through increased awareness and choices for desired future results and solutions to current problems in living, with the individual as the creator and artist of his or her life​.

How does coaching differ from therapy and other helping professions?

While coaching and therapy share some similarities, psychotherapy often focuses on the impact the past has on the present,  healing psychological dysfunction, and relieving emotional pain. In psychotherapy, the therapist is considered to be the expert, the one with answers about what is right for the client.

Coaching focuses on the present and future, the client's strengths, abilities, life purpose, and goals. Coaches work with clients to create possibilities, outcomes, and to enrich their client's life. Coaches allow the client to be the expert and are able to determine what is best for them. The coach works with their clients to maximize their personal and professional potentials, to close the gaps, and to create extraordinary lives.

Coaches use a variety of communication skills, processes, and modalities such as, determining values, questioning, NLP, clarify, listening, and guided visualization to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieve their goals. These skills can be used in almost all types of coaching. In this sense, coaching is a form of "meta-profession" that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in health, personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual, and other dimensions. There may be some overlap between certain types of coaching activities.

What kinds of coaching are there?

There are many kinds of coaching, some of them are:

Life Coaching - Assisting a client who is wanting to make a change or is stuck and unable to change in their life. They may feel stuck, bored, unfulfilled, or not knowing what is their next step.

Leadership Coaching - Helping a client take on a leadership role at work or other areas.

Business and Executive Coaching - Assisting a client create or build a business or learn new skills needed in a new position.

Health and Wellness Coaching - Working with a client in order to maintain a healthy or healthier lifestyle.

Relationship Coaching - Helping clients with a relationship.

Career Coaching - Assisting a client to begin a career or change careers.

Self Empowerment Coaching - Helping a client gain power and control over some aspect of their life.

End of Life Coaching - Helping a client through the final transition with care, compassion, and empathy while allowing the client to maintain a sense of control.

Why has the industry attained such record growth?

We are in a time when the field and practice of coaching is both growing and evolving. The demand for coaching came into being when stressed out executives started seeking help in coping with their professional and personal lives. In addition, as companies started downsizing and outplacing, and baby boomers started turning 50, coaches were hired to ease traumatic transitions and to help people get back on track. Since then the profession of coaching has continued to grow and expand. Why? Quite simply, because it works!

A 2014 Global Coaching Client Study conducted on behalf of the International Coach Federation found that of those individuals who had received coaching

80% saw improved self-confidence

73% saw improved relationships

72% saw improved communication skills

70% saw improved work performance

61% saw improved business management

57% saw improved time management

51% saw improved team performance

And of those surveyed, 99% indicated that there were “somewhat or fully satisfied with their coaching experience” and 96% said they would do it again.

When you think about it, at any one time, the lives of about 10% of the population are being negatively impacted by mental illness and issues from their past which need to be resolved to move forward. The rest of the population (90%) for whom psychotherapy is not indicated, can benefit from the holistic, strength based approach of coaching which supports them to create more rewarding, fulfilling lives, to find and achieve their dreams.

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