top of page

So what actually is coaching?

I’ve been asked this a few times and I’m pretty sure there are people who would love to ask me but haven’t so here we go!

At its core, coaching is conversation with a purpose to transform. There’s usually either a problem to solve or something to achieve that’s proving difficult to work out on your own. A coach is there to listen, ask you questions to provoke deeper thought or a different perspective and help you find a different way of dealing with problematic areas in your life.

A good coach will help you find the things that work for you, they can help you get to the core of a particularly sticky problem and they will also challenge you when you give up too easily or make assumptions about yourself.

Coaches are there to be objective. They will cheer you on when you’ve made progress and help you find the truth when things feel like they’re going wrong. We will listen to what’s going on and, because we’re objective, will pick out the themes or threads that you don’t always recognise on your own.

Most coaches won’t tell you what to do because it’s not our place. We aren’t the experts on your life and your experiences - you are. But because we’re objective, we can see the truth of things in a way that you don’t. We use these truths to help you transform your thinking from one of fear, to one of possibilities.

I’ve been a coach and a client and as a client I can tell you that there is so much power in working out what’s going on for yourself and finding a solution that works for you. I’m one of those people who assumes I can think my way around most of my problems but I’ve realised now that this isn’t the case. I actually have to do something about it and that usually involves talking to someone about it!

I often use this as an example of the difference between thinking something over in your head and talking about it:

If you’re at work and you have a problem, you can think about it for a while and try to find a way to resolve it. The problem is that you tend to be bouncing around the bare bones of the problem and going round in circles. It’s also usually a bit black and white – the only options must be a, b or c so how can I make them work in this situation. Eventually you give up and go and ask someone else for help. You start explaining and all of a sudden you just know what the solution is.

My theory is that when you start telling someone else the issue, you have to fill out the bare bones and give it some colour. You start telling them what you’ve already tried or ruled out and why. Suddenly, your brain starts making connections that weren’t there in the stark black and white area of problem-solving.

A coaching session should be a safe, non-judgemental and objective space for you to talk about what’s going on for you. Away from the opinions of others who, whilst they may have your best interests at heart, just don’t really seem to understand what’s really going on for you. They have their own priorities and they aren’t always the same as yours.

Coaching is a place for you to discover yourself and new ways of going through life.

A coaching session should not be a place for the coach to give you their opinions on your life and what you should be doing. They should not be mapping out a plan for you to follow. You are the one who is going to be doing the work and you need to be ready to take yourself on and actively want to change your situation.

At the start, most people experience a bit of trepidation and concern, but a coach will support you to find ways to deal with that. You don’t have to come bouncing in being bold and unafraid, just be open to the experience and what may happen. Remember why you’re there and what the ultimate aim is.

So why would you choose coaching? Well ultimately, it’s about finding a new way to move forward with your life. It’s about resolving a temporary or long-term problem that keeps cropping up. It’s about finding more happiness or confidence or a new perspective. Looking at what your options are and helping you come to a decision about what to do.

And it could be about anything big or small – it might be that you’re at a crossroads in your career, or you just aren’t happy with the way things are going throughout your life and want things to change.

When we start working together, we chat about what brought you to coaching, what you’re looking for and invite you to talk about that in more detail. It’s ok if you’re not sure as well. That’s something we can work on.

Usually, at the beginning of each session, coaches will ask what you’d like to concentrate on today. What feels important to explore or what keeps coming up for you. I like to use this model too because whatever the outcome that you want, you are a whole person with feelings and experiences that may not feel related but will affect everything else that’s going on for you.

Coaching is vey rarely restricted to one area of your life because, as you know already, when one thing is out of balance, it affects every other area of your life. Dealing with the whole of you, makes it easier to deal with the individual parts of your life.

You can get a coach who will help you with almost anything these days and at the moment, coaching isn’t regulated so anyone can call themselves a coach. My advice is to make sure you find someone who has been through some kind of training, who isn’t just telling you what to do and who is either accredited or adheres to the standards of one of the big professional coaching bodies – ICF (International Coaching Federation), AC (Association for Coaching, EMCC (European Mentoring & Coaching Council).

Have discovery calls with more than one coach if you need to but don’t feel like you need to sign up to the first coach you speak to. Make sure you ask the questions you need to so you can make sure you have everything you need to make your decision.

Ultimately, you know yourself best and you know who and what you need better than anyone else, so trust yourself to make the right decision.

For more information on the differences between coaching, mentoring and counselling, check out my Facebook Live on 11 November 2022 on my Facebook page here -


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page