What is coaching?

I have been a coach for many years, after transitioning form counselling and teaching, I completed my coach training in the US and then updated my coaching studies in Australia. These studies included many hours of study, practice, supervision, feedback and reflection and these experiences have impacted my coaching skills, as well as how I work with clients as a coach.

What I have found lately is that many people call themselves a “coach” without any idea of what a coach is! This has exploded with the internet with “coaches” appearing daily with promises of a better life, more money, wonderful relationships, better health and wellness etc. What is common amongst many of these “coaches” is that they are there because they “want to share their story”, or someone has told them “you are a great coach” or, even better, they see it as a lucrative way to make money!

I am not suggesting that you need to complete specific training to call yourself a coach, but I am suggesting that many people who label themselves as a coach often have no idea what “coaching” is! Over the past few years, as I have moved from teaching back into running my own business as a coach, I also worked with a number of “coaches” with the goal of moving my business forward with the support and guidance of a business coach. What I found was that most of these so-called “coaches” do not coach. Instead I have been told how to do things, shown how they ‘made it’, been subjected to didactic lectures, and even been told that I shouldn’t do something because they were already the expert in the field. This is NOT coaching – it is training, teaching and leading!

So, what IS coaching? The Coaching Academy describes coaching as “ …assisting a client to bridge the gap between where they are now, to where they would like to be far more effectively than if they worked alone”! (TCA, 2018).  This is the basis of coaching – a coach supports their client to move from where they are to where they want to be!

Coaching is NOT

  • Mentoring
  • Teaching
  • Training
  • Giving advice
  • Showing someone what to do
  • Telling someone not to do something
  • Suggesting that the client follows their … course, mastermind, training,

So, why is this a problem? The first thing that springs to mind is that there are people out there who just don’t know what they are doing, and yet they are passing themselves off as a coach and taking people on as clients. This is a disservice to both the coaching industry and the people who are paying money to be told what to do and how to do it. And while I know that clients have ‘free will’ and can choose who to work with, it makes it a challenge for those of us who want to coach! I’ve had clients ask me to tell them what to do and when I suggest that we find the answer from their own experiences, they tell me that they came to me for the “solution”.

When I want to work with a coach, I want to be coached!


TCA. (2018). The Coaching Academy. Retrieved from https://www.the-coaching-academy.com/coaching/

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