Coaching: What even is it?!


What comes to mind when you hear the word coaching?

The chances are, you’ve never come across coaching or spoken to a coach and don’t really know what coaching is. Until quite recently, I was the same.


But now that I understand coaching and recognise how powerful it is, I want to share it with you so that you can use it too.


Many women are in a similar place now to where I was a few years ago – trying to figure out how to live a full life while managing a chronic illness. (If you don’t know my story, you can find it here.)


When I finally discovered coaching, I realised that as I’d gone through the long process of growth and change, I’d been effectively coaching myself all this time. I wanted to properly learn and understand the tools to help other women go through change and upheaval, so I decided to train as a coach myself.


To give you a bit of an idea of what coaching is and how it can help you live a better life, I’m going to explain some of the terminologies around coaching and the different types of coaching available.

Coaching, mentoring, counselling – are they all the same?

As someone relatively new to the world of coaching, I can see how people who have been in the industry can use words and phrases that most of us are not familiar with.


I have discovered that there is a clear difference between coaching, mentoring and counselling or therapy and that they all require specific skillsets and achieve different outcomes. Professionals who offer these services are trained specifically in that area. Sometimes these practises can run alongside one another – for example, some coaches also provide mentorship, but you’ll usually find that people specialise in just one.


How do you know which one is right for you?

In a nutshell:

  • Therapy/counselling helps people address issues from their past so they can function better in the present day.
  • Mentoring involves someone who has already ‘been there and done that’ giving their clients guidance and instruction on exactly what to do to achieve a particular outcome.
  • Coaching helps people raise their self-awareness and unpick some of their thoughts and feelings to help them move forward and create change. Pure coaching doesn’t involve telling you what to do; it gives you the space to explore the options and come to a decision yourself.



The Basics of Coaching

  1. Coaching is future-focused. That means it starts from where you are now and supports you in moving forwards.


  1. Different coaches work in different ways. A coach will bring their own experiences and personality to your coaching sessions. No two coaches will deliver the same coaching experience, which is why it’s important to work with someone you resonate with.


  1. Coaches don’t tell you what to do. This is a really common misconception, and clients often want their coach to give them the answers. However, in pure coaching, your coach will never tell you what to do; they will simply ask the right questions to draw out the answers that are already within you.


  1. Coaching is about achieving goals and making changes. Coaching is not just a conversation. It’s about moving things forward, identifying and achieving goals and driving change.


I mentioned above that more direct and instructional guidance is known as mentoring. However, sometimes when people discuss ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’, the lines between the two can blur.

For example, sports coaching and business coaching involve direct instruction from an expert who gives you clear steps or a very structured programme to follow. While this is technically mentoring, it’s commonly referred to as coaching. Across all the different fields of coaching, you’ll find that some coaches offer a mix of coaching and mentoring.


Why is it important to know the difference?

Understanding the difference between coaching, mentoring, and counselling or therapy helps you know which is the right service for you. You might find that as your needs change over time, you move from one service to another. For example, some people who have completed a course of therapy go on to access coaching to help them continue moving forward and achieve their goals.

Types of Coaching

There are numerous types of coaching, and coaches can train in different techniques and styles to suit them and their clients. Here are just a few of the different kinds of coaching you might see:

Transformational Coaching

I’m starting with transformational coaching as this is the style of coaching I’m training in. To my ears, ‘transformational’ sounds a bit woolly (!), but don’t let that put you off. It’s called transformational because it encourages you to explore and unpick your deep-rooted feelings and patterns of behaviour that are holding you back, in every area of your life, with transformative results.


Transformational coaching uses a mixture of techniques, some borrowed from NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and therapy, to help you achieve your goals.


Executive Coaching

Executive coaching typically focuses on workplace performance and progression. It can be initiated by either the coachee or their employer. In large organisations, top-level managers and C-Suite execs might receive executive coaching as part of their ongoing career development.


Team Coaching

Team coaching brings colleagues together to help them develop a more cohesive and harmonious working relationship. It can be used to facilitate change within an organisation or support a team experiencing problems. Group coaching is a similar concept but usually involves a less formal setting. For example, a group coaching session might feature at a health or wellbeing retreat.


Sports Coaching

Sports coaching is quite different to the other types of personal coaching I talk about here. A sports coach might help a person train for a marathon or a team win the league. The coach sets out the path to achieving this goal, with strict instructions on what to eat, when to train etc. Although coaching is the correct term for this in the sporting world, we’d refer to this style of instructional support as mentoring in the personal coaching space.



I’m currently offering free coaching sessions as I complete my certification in transformational coaching. Contact me to arrange a discovery call.

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