wtf is coaching, anyway?

Life coaching. For many people, this phrase is confusing or even alienating. I'll admit, for awhile the term "Life Coach" made my skin crawl and conjured up images of 90s cheese balls in white linen. As a practicing personal coach, I've often struggled with finding a professional title that feels authentic, comfortable and accurate. Part of the struggle comes from a lot of the misconceptions floating around about coaching*. So, I decided to clear up some of the most common misconceptions I hear about this practice:

1. Coaches are experts in everything

Nope. I'd love to claim expertise in everything, but there are only two areas that every good coach is a guaranteed expert in:

  1. coaching

  2. themselves.

I tell my clients this over and over: you're the expert in you. There's literally nothing I can learn about my client that will give me more expertise than they already have in themselves. It's just not possible. And it follows that I don't need to be an expert in my client's' family, friends or their profession. That's my client's job. I simply need to be expert in coaching and know how to facilitate conversations to help my clients uncover values, unblock emotions and how to help them to take actionable steps toward their goals.

2. Come to a session with a goal and your coach will give you a step by step plan of how to achieve it.

Nope again. I am certainly willing to help clients develop a plan of action if that is what will work for them, but it's not the job of a coach to develop a prescriptive plan for a client without their input. If you're looking to lose weight and just want someone to tell you what to eat, go see a nutritionist. If you want to save money and need to know how to set up a budget, hire a financial planner. When you're ready to get honest with yourself about what you really want, what's stopping you from getting that and how you can finally get where you want to be, make an appointment via my online booking page.

In coaching, you'll be the one in control. You'll be figuring out what you want, what you need to do, and you'll be accountable to get it done. Coaching is client-led and this means the client is responsible for the results. It may seem backwards, but it ensures that when your work with your coach eventually wraps up, you have the skills, motivation and follow through to keep up your momentum. That doesn't happen when you're working off of someone else's to-do list!

3. I have a therapist, I don't need a coach.

I have a therapist. I also have a coach. The work I do with the two of them is very different, yet complimentary. And while my therapist and coach often use similar tools, their work is not the same.

There are a few key differences between therapy and coaching thjat

  • Training: therapists are trained and licensed medical professionals. Coaches are not. A coach should never diagnose and/or treat a mental health condition.

  • Client-Practitionner Relationship: In therapy, the therapist is typically viewed as the "expert" who drives the relationship. In a coaching relationship, the client leads the relationship and is viewed as the "expert" who works with the coach to define the relationship.

Read more here about the differences between coaching and therapy.

4. Only losers need life coaches.

ERRRH! Many highly successful people have life coaches. (I picked my first life coach partly because her website listed Mario Lopez as a client.) Making the decision to enter into a coaching relationship simply means you're taking an active step to change something in your life you want to change. Sounds like #winning to me.

5. Life coaches will blab my business.

Our lips are sealed! Just like other folks you talk to about personal and private stuff (doctors, therapists), coaches keep everything you tell us strictly confidential. In fact, most coaches follow the International Coaching Federation code of ethics which mandates confindentiality. [If you're unsure if a coach follows the ICF code of ethics, ask! BTW-I do!]

If you still have questions about coaching--what coaches do, how you can benefit from coaching or to book a session, drop me a line.

*in this piece, the term "coaching" will be used to refer to life coaching/personal coaching, not athletic coaching. I don't know anything about being an athletic coach. See myth #1.