Coaching is loved by some, hated by others, and a vast majority is uncertain about what a coach even does. Here I share my starting point, what I thought of coaching, and how an interest in getting certified grew. This post is the first in my blog series My Journey Into Coaching.
Thoughts People Have On Coaching
A couple of typical comments I have read over the years in media are “Lol, and these woke people need a coach because they can’t figure out their own lives without paying someone!” and “It’s so funny, they cut stuff out of magazines and sit with their glue, and it’s supposed to be intelligent somehow…”
I find these hilarious.
It is true that some coaches use paper-based mood boards or vision boards as tools to help clients figure out their immediate directions in which to start moving. Magazines in paper format are no thing in my own home anymore, and the two glue sticks I own have a purpose in quilting only, so you will never have to do anything with me unless you want to.
Besides, a coach should invite a client to try something new every single time, and be prepared for a “No thanks!”
When something is close to our hearts, getting a bit triggered from unfavourable reactions is normal. To me personally, it really is no big deal though. There are many things I don’t enjoy engaging with in any shape or form, so to expect the whole world to appreciate coaching would be naive.
With that said, I do love mood boards. They are crucial in my work as a surface pattern designer and designer of handicraft patterns on another website of mine. But they certainly don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea :) Plus mine have all been digital so far, either on my computer or as a secret Pinterest board.
For some reason this topic cracks me up anytime I think of it, but let’s scroll back some more in time to when coaching appeared on my radar.
The Absolute Beginning
There is no clear memory of when I heard of life coaching the first time, but I think it was when discovering personal organisers, too. Back then I lived in Denmark, had moved to a larger home, and while I wasn’t aware of it yet, moving stuff had caused significant stress.
My original searches online around 2009 and 2010 were about organising things, which led me to discover decluttering as a concept. Personal organisers popped up, as did Apartment Therapy with their famous Home Cure. Mixed into this major questioning of life and its meaning, stuff and home maintenance, I must have stumbled upon life coaching as well. There was a group deal for coaching sessions available, and I grabbed the offer with dedication.
It seems to me as if this first contact with coaching—as a client—is rather unusual, since most wanna-be coaches arrive at it from the direction of wanting to help others. All I knew was I didn’t want therapy but coaching, and after being coached I was sold.
Coaching, Medicine And Therapy
My studies were in medicine at the time (and never finished), but I saw the benefit of approaching self-development and health in general from different directions. Many doctors and psychologists are rather uptight about their expertise, but isn’t it beneficial for societies when their particular skill sets aren’t needed?
On Pinterest you sometimes find comments on pinned images from therapists being completely triggered, when coaching is described among others as future-focused, as opposed to therapy being past-centric. Few coaches want to be therapists, but those triggered individuals are insinuating that coaches don’t understand therapy.
Some facts to recall:
- Coaching isn’t regulated (the way it should be), but therapy is.
- Coaching has a very specific rhythm to its sessions, whereas therapy can be meandering.
- Coaching doesn’t look to the past except for information purposes such as “This happened to me, and now it affects my situation like so [enter details]”, whereas therapy seeks for example to heal past trauma in addition to exploring new ways to handle potentially similar situations in the future.
- Coaching includes goal setting most sessions, and therapy does not.
- Coaching done right offers no advice, suggestions or teachings. A therapist can suggest things.
There is no reason whatsoever why coaching and therapy cannot co-exist. I warmly recommend therapists to dig deeper to truly understand the meaning of coaching and its purpose. There is little overlap and only some similarities.
Once a therapist sends off their patient, they could refer to a coach if they have the integrity to think of what is best for their former patient. Obviously not all patients would benefit from becoming coaching clients, but some would if they have expressed thoughts in such a direction, without possibly understanding their need yet.
When the depth and huge potential of coaching became evident to me, I wanted to pursue the route of certifications and accreditations. The International Coaching Federation, ICF, showed up on my screen and their principles of treating people respectfully resonated fully. It took a decade for me to start the journey into certified coaching, though.
The ICF, which I will discuss in greater detail in my next blog post in this series, has established itself as an authority in coaching. A minority of all coaches out there have been certified, and a minority of certified coaches choose the ICF accreditation route.
Not all coaches offer coaching, but in their harmful misconceptions they call their consulting and/or teaching coaching. Instead, they should call consulting what it is, and teaching or training what it is.
During my first training towards Associate Certified Coach, the first formal title issued by the ICF, it was hinted that the European Union will start regulating the local coaching industry. In my opinion, this is the only sensible decision in a world where anyone can wake up one day and call themselves coach on a whim.
Coaching is a wonderful form of communication in my view. It is special in that a coach doesn’t have to be an expert in a particular field in order to coach successfully. Comparing to a consultant, the latter needs a certain level of expertise in order to be able to not only sell their services, but have happy consulting clients as well.
In fact, coaching is the most challenging interaction I have ever stumbled upon, so this should take me on a new path of challenges, which is both welcome and rather uncomfortable (if thinking in terms of comfort zones). But as we all know, growth doesn’t happen in comfort, so if we want new flavours of experiences, we must do the work.
And now I welcome your constructive comments below! I am very curious about your thoughts on coaching.
This blog post is part of the series My Journey Into Coaching.
Photo credit: Denys Nevozhai.