What is and what is not Coaching?

Robert Johnston
What is and what is not Coaching?

Coaching is a new discipline that brings us closer to achieving goals, allowing us to develop personally and professionally. It is a competition that helps you think differently, improve the communications you maintain and deepen yourself.


  • What is Coaching?
  • What is not Coaching?
    • Coaching is not therapy
      • Some Coincidences:
      • Some differences:
    • Coaching is not training
    • Coaching is not consulting
    • Coaching is not mentoring

What is Coaching?

It could be said that coaching is the art of working with others so that they obtain unusual results and improve their performance. It is an activity that generates new possibilities for action and allows extraordinary results.

Another way of defining coaching is, an alliance between tutor and client, it is an agreement between the parties, which establishes the objectives to be achieved, the way to carry out the program, the work schedule and the evaluation of the results that the student is reaching.

Coaching is much more than a management tool, it is a way of being and doing. Which makes it a great tool in business management and an invaluable tool in personal development to achieve both personal and professional goals..

So that:

  • We can associate coaching with learning. The coach or instructor instructs the student or coachee and collaborates with him to put into practice the guidelines that he has previously given. Coaching involves “mentoring” from start to finish. That is, the tutor lays the foundations, instructs and collaborates with the student, correcting and supporting him..
  • Coaching is based on a dialogue between the coach and the coachee in a conducive and results-oriented environment. Coaching is about training individual people to bring out the best in them and bring out what they know.
  • On many occasions, people are not able to bring out all their knowledge. For this reason, the tutor assists them to find answers, perhaps to questions never asked. In many cases it is more important to know which questions are more appropriate than to know all the answers..
  • With coaching we try to discover ourselves, to recognize ourselves and to change. People are constantly changing, and what it is about is that those changes have a good end. Therefore, coaching will help us enrich ourselves and change in the right direction, getting the best out of ourselves, influencing not only knowledge but also emotions..

Many consider that coaching is still an incipient technique. However, and after the premises given, we can think that coaching, although not so baptized, has existed since the beginning of time..

Tutors have always existed providing support, encouragement and planning actions to achieve a specific objective. In another more formal aspect, many of the principles of coaching derive from psychology, and education. Therefore coaching is not a new discipline. Perhaps what has been achieved is that it is also based on philosophy.

What is not Coaching?

The basis of coaching is in psychology, specifically in psychological theory, and often in psychological practices. Coaching is based on humanistic psychology, a science created by Maslow that deals with human values ​​and personal development.

Mentoring involves examining and clarifying the individual's needs and values, and developing goals that lead to personal and professional development..

Coaching is not therapy

Although we can say that it is based on some models of therapy.

Although there are many others, it is based on the following:

  • Therapy based on the principles of constructivist learning. This therapy is considered as a system of changing the history of an individual. It is used in organizations to lead individuals towards deeper personal development. The person transforms their reality, becoming a being more aware of their own history.
  • Solution-directed therapy. This model is focused on focusing the problem, analyzing it and proposing alternative solutions. This is how an action plan is drawn up to solve a problem and achieve the set goals. It is based on the belief that the individual has all the answers and that it is only necessary to dig into them to obtain them.
  • Transactional analysis. Developed by Eric Berne, it helps the individual to identify the states of their ego (parent, adult and child) and to evaluate the ways of acting to make them mature and realistic.
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Study the functioning of thought, language and behavior. It is used in organizations, to promote learning, set goals, improve relationships and emotions.
  • Psychodynamic therapy. It is based on the subconscious of individuals. It is believed that the root causes of current problems are almost always found in the history of the person. In this case Freud and his psychoanalysis is fundamental and in it the coach must be trained to get the best out of his student. The importance of evaluating the real background of certain behaviors is highlighted. It is not easy to differentiate psychoanalytic therapy from coaching and it is essential that tutors do not become psychotherapists, since time does not allow them to transform a current relationship into an extension of a previous one.

Once the types of therapy are known, we are going to list the fundamental coincidences and differences between therapy and coaching.

Some Coincidences:

  • They focus on the individual, researching him and evaluating him.
  • In both cases of listening and reflections are made, talking about all situations.
  • It is based on fixing the strengths and weaknesses of each person.
  • In both cases it is about achieving personal development.

Some differences:

  • Therapists almost never give advice, instead the coach is free to make suggestions, give advice and confront the individual.
  • Therapists tend to focus on solving traumas based on past problems that have left their mark, while tutors know its impact on the individual, but do not explore it in depth. Coaches push the person into action by putting feelings aside.
  • Therapy usually focuses on feelings associated with the past, while mentoring is related to setting goals and moving forward.
  • Therapy explores negative resistance, while coaching attempts to turn complaints into goals, propelling an individual to a higher level of success..
  • Therapy is related to progress, while coaching is related to performance.

Coaching is not training

Training is an important point is everyone. All organizations invest heavily in training programs.

In any case, it has been shown that only between 8 and 12 per cent of those who attend training courses transform new techniques and knowledge into a measurable improvement in performance. This is due to the fact that many programs do not allow the implementation of the learned techniques: the individual tries, but if they encounter obstacles, they return to their previous behavior..

Training programs do not benefit everyone, only some. Coaching, on the other hand, is personalized and oriented to the needs of each individual..

In training, change comes from the outside, while coaching tries to clarify inner values, enhancing their motivation..

Coaching is not consulting

Workplace consulting is another discipline closely related to and sometimes confused with coaching. Workplace consulting often involves overcoming an underperforming situation by solving a specific problem..

Sometimes a consultant in the workplace can take on a coaching role. However, there are differences between the traditional consulting and coaching models.

The purpose of consulting is to make problem employees aware of them and to be able to recognize that there is a difference between their current performance and their desired performance. A plan needs to be developed to correct and fix it. Instead, coaching is a continuous development process that enables employees to gain the skills they need to evolve professionally and personally, and better perform their tasks both at work and in personal life..

Coaching is not mentoring

As much as mentoring seems a synonym for coaching, it is necessary not to confuse the two disciplines. Mentoring, according to Lewis, is "a natural way of transmitting knowledge, techniques and experiences to others by someone who is usually older, more erudite and endowed with life experience and a broader specific knowledge".

Two other definitions of mentoring are:

  • According to Shea: "Who offers a knowledge, reflection, perspective or wisdom especially useful for another person".
  • According to Rolfe Flett: "A colleague by profession who knows your specialty thoroughly and advises and encourages you".

Mentoring is based on the “mentor”, which traditionally was those older and more educated people who transmitted their wisdom, knowledge and advice to someone younger, but less expert..

This knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. However, modern mentoring relationships are based on a more mutual, equal and collaborative learning alliance. These characteristics also apply to the coaching relationship..

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